Russia’s language policy is a manipulative tool of an empire: it is using cultural intimidation and symbolic bribery to control its neighbors’ identity and disrupt political life.
Russia presents the Russian language as a lingua franca – the language of civilization and high culture. To make it work, Russia monumentalises its poets and writers in every post-Soviet city, aggressively sells Russian cultural products to unsuspecting Russian-speaking consumers, pushes Russian literature into national high school curriculums and gaslights national cultures into using Russian to be “better recognised.” Russia watches every legislative step concerning language use that Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, or any other state in Russia’s view, make – and condemns every decision against equal use of Russian and a state’s national language.
Watch part 1: How Russia weaponized language in linguicide and disinformation
Simultaneously, Russia manipulates the concept of a minority language to claim the right to represent Russian-speaking people and thus intervene in its neighboring states’ education, history and culture. The war in Ukraine was motivated by the mythical “oppression” of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, even though Ukraine actually had enough schools for multiple language minorities that lived here. Ukraine’s steady progress to support the Ukrainian language and limit the Russian influence in the Ukrainian education is proclaimed to be a Nazi move by the Russian government.
Russia’s priority to enforce Russian language in Ukraine is evident in the occupied South. The occupiers have banned the official use of Ukrainian language in public service and education in Kherson and Mariupol. Non-compilers risk losing freedom in filtration camps or being banned from humanitarian aid. It did not take long before Russian occupation administrations checked Ukrainian libraries for “extremist” books and destroyed the ones with Ukrainian literature, history and language. Road signs and street plates were changed from Ukrainian to Russian, an expensive and unnecessary decision in terms of modern urban management, if not for colonization of Ukraine.
- Kateryna Blyzniuk, Senior Lecturer at NaUKMA, linguist
- Orysia Demska, Professor of NaUKMA, First Head of the National Commission on State Language Standards
- Taras Marusyk, expert on language policy, publicist, journalist.
UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Ukrainian Catholic University’s analitical center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.
If you want to support Ukraine against Russian aggression, check the link with recommendations by Ukraine Crisis Media Center – https://uacrisis.org/en/help-ukraine.
NGO Euroatlantic Course collects donations to support Ukrainian Army and civilians – https://eac.org.ua/en/main-page/.