The article in Deutsche Welleexpresses an opinion that Ukraine has recently changed. The countrywhich celebrated its 21st Independence anniversary on Friday haschanged more in two weeks of August 2012 than in two decades afterthe fall of the Soviet Union.
Starting from Odessa, regional and city councils in the southand east of Ukraine have one after another adopted decisions toacknowledge Russian as a regional language. Kherson, Nikolayev,Sevastopol, Krasnyy Luch, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk andKharkov - residents of these cities and regions can now fill outofficial paperwork not in the official Ukrainian language but inRussian. The officials can do the same, too.
The regional languages bill was passed by the Parliament and cameinto effect on 10 August. It provides the opportunity forbilingualism in the regions of Ukraine where the share of thenational minority exceeds 10 percent of the population. Oppositionand intelligentsia protests in Kiev and several other cities havenot kept President Yanukovych from signing the law.
There were no mass protests. Only in the West the Ivano-Frankovskoblast council has announced Thursday, 23 August, that the languagelaw will not be executed and the Ukrainian language will remain theonly language in documentation management.
The need to introduce Russian as the second official language hasbeen discussed by Ukrainian politicians since the proclamation ofIndependence. But it never went beyond talking. None ofYanukovych's three predecessors has risked it. Leonid Kuchma whohad been the head of state for 10 years criticizes the currentauthorities' decision. "This law does not work in favor of thenational idea and independence of the Ukrainian state", saidKuchma.
Yanukovych himself has acknowledged that the law is imperfect andpromised amendments. The President's advisor Anna German declaredthat it will be done as early as September and the bar for theregional languages may be raised from 10 to 20 or 30percent.