Ukrainian language matters
March 11, 2022, Vadym Chumak
By the second half of the 19th century the standard of Russian language was eventually established and began to be forcefully set as the only language in Russian Empire and its provinces, including Ukraine at that time. This policy of russification lasted for more than a century and it resulted in the fact that all large cities (including Kyiv) and industrial regions in Ukraine became Russian-speaking. Ukrainian language existed as non-prestigious sign of a lower class (peasants and uneducated people). Gopak dance and folk songs were welcome by the communist rule as a demonstration of happiness and prosperity of the ‘multi-national family’ within the Soviet Union.
Also, a large influx of native Russians took place in course of industrialization in the last decade of the 19th century with spikes after Holodomor (resettlement of population from core Russian regions to replace Ukrainian population exterminated in course of Stalin’s genocide in 1932–1933) and deportation of Krymtatar population from Crimea in 1944. By 2014 the fraction of Russians was only 17% of the whole population of Ukraine.
The fraction of Russian-speaking or bilingual (like myself) was much larger (maybe 50%) strongly depending of the region of Ukraine. One should note that ethnic origin, religion or language people spoken had never be an issue in Ukraine. There is general consensus in Ukraine that Ukrainian is the state language while people in their everyday life can use whatever language they want (in fact, suppression of Russian-speakers in Ukraine is another lies of Putin and his propaganda!). So, in summary, ‘Russian speaking’ is not equal to ‘Russian’, citizens of Russian origin in Ukraine are a part of Ukrainian nation (like Hispanic are part of the US nation), both ethnic Russians and the rest of Russian speakers are defending Ukraine now in this historically predetermined aggression from Russia. The opposite perspective is Putin’s manipulation and propaganda. What happens in Ukraine has nothing with Russian speakers — Putin wants to claim each Russian speaking living soul to be a part of his proclaimed “Russian world”. This is clear manipulation because lots of Russian speaking Ukrainians of all nationalities are fiercely fighting against this invasion.
At the end just one small example: although I am a bilingual Ukrainian, my mother tongue and the language we speak most of time in my family is Russian. This does not make us a part of Putin’s “Russian world” and we will do what we can to resist this act of Cainic ‘brotherly love’, which is gaining clear features of genocide of all Ukrainians — both Ukrainian and Russian speaking.
Slava Ukraini! Together to the victory over the Evil Empire.