Ukrainian media hit by national language law

Ukrainian media hit by national language law
Image: Andriy_155 under a CC licence

25 April 2019

The Ukrainian parliament has adopted a law introducing new Ukrainian-language quotas for the country’s media outlets and publishing houses.

The legislation, which passed with a landslide majority of 278 votes, will be signed into law by the outgoing president Petro Poroshenko before stepping down in June, and is purportedly designed to strengthen Ukrainian’s position as the country’s “only official state language”. However, critics are wary that the law will alienate Ukraine’s sizeable Russian-speaking communities, who make up just under a third of the population, stoking further divisions.

Under the bill, newspapers and magazines will need to print at least half of their content in Ukrainian, with publishers facing similar requirements for books. National television and radio stations will also see their compulsory quota of Ukrainian-language content boosted from 75 per cent to 90 per cent.

The law is specifically aimed at curbing the use of Russian in the country’s official and cultural spheres, Other minority languages, including official EU languages — used by the country’s ethnic Hungarians and Romanians — and Crimean Tatar will be exempt.

A previous version of this article stated that EU official languages would not be exempt from the law. We apologise for any confusion caused.

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