Monday, April 03, 2006

Ukrainian "Russians"

Kiev International Institute of Sociology conducted a poll at the end of 2005. The results speak a lot about reasons why “pro-Russian” Yanukovich defeated “pro-Western” Yushchenko at the Ukrainian parliamentary elections.

According to the poll results 76,7% of respondents consider themselves Ukrainians and only 18,2% Russians. At the same time 44,2% of respondents consider their native language Ukrainian and 42,5% Russian, 11,3% speak so-called ‘Surzhik’ – a dialect linguistically stays between Ukrainian and Russian. In general 45,3% of respondents said it is easier for them to speak Russian and 44% - Ukrainian.

The results stress a very important point about East Ukraine – West Ukraine division. “Pro-Russian” here means – the right to be considered Russian (or Surzhik) speaking Ukrainian. Although the comparison is somewhat speculative but we are talking about the same phenomenon as English speaking Irish or Scots. When Ireland became independent one of the major problem of the new republic was – should we consider Irish we don’t speak Gaelic real Irish? There were several major attempts to make Gaelic the only official language of the country including total ban of English in mass media, government organizations, public speaking. That was time of political struggle between “pro-English” and “pro-Celtic”. But were these “pro-English” parties really “anti-Irish”? Does it hurt the independence of Ireland that English and Gaelic are both official languages of the country? Here is an article on the topic of independent Ireland and the language from Wikipedia.

Orange “democrats” believe that Ukrainian should be the only official language, Blue “democrats” think that Russian should be official too.

Via Regnum

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