Saturday, August 22, 2015

Russian Occupation Eliminating Ukrainian Language Instruction in Crimea’s Schools

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 22 – Many people have been concerned about the way in which the Russian occupation is limiting the use of Crimean Tatar in Crimea, but fewer have paid attention to another move by the occupiers: the destruction of Ukrainian language schooling on the peninsula.

            Yesterday, “Argumenty nedeli – Krym” reported that Natalya Goncharova, the occupation’s minister for education and science has declared that there is now not a single school in Crimea where Ukrainian is the language of instruction; there are only about 17 Ukrainian classes for the entire region (

            According to Goncharova, that situation reflects the fact that no one is asking for such instruction. For two reasons, her claim is implausible unless the occupation authorities are, as certainly appears to be the case, putting pressure on parents to ask only for Russian schools, something that appears to be the case.

            On the one hand, according to the 2001 census, just under 25 percent of the residents of the Ukrainian peninsula declared themselves to be ethnic Ukrainians. That figure has fallen since that time as a result of the occupation, and many of these people are likely to be Russian speaking. But it is certainly not the case that all of them are.

            And on the other, Vladimir Putin and the Russian authorities have made much-ballyhooed statements that there are three state languages in Crimea: Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. The difficulties speakers of the last face are well-know; those of Ukrainian speakers deserve to be more so (

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