The Ukrainian parliament approved a measure to force Ukrainian Television broadcasters to speak Ukrainian on at least 75% of their broadcasts, in a bid to further limit the influence of Russia on Ukrainian society. The bill was passed 269-15. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko backed the bill and vowed to sign it.
“I have drawn the attention of channel owners and managers on several occasions to the inadmissibly low amount of Ukrainian spoken,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook, reported AFP.
“On some channels the ratio was at 15 percent! Gentlemen, have you forgotten what country you live in?!”
The passing of the bill came on the heels of Ukraine banning popular Russian social media sites from being served on Ukrainian servers. The sites were very popular in Ukraine and many citizens used them to keep in contact with relatives with Russia and elsewhere. Ukrainians also remember well being forced to speak Russian and the atrocities they suffered under the Soviet Union.
Ukraine’s free speech and information policy committee chief Viktoriya Syumar, assured the media that the law fit within the standards of the European Union. “Such laws exist in a number of European countries,” she told lawmakers.
“Totalitarianism only existed when Ukrainian was banned from use in our land,” she added in reference to the Soviet practise of forcing other republics to speak Russian.
“This law will work for Ukraine, for Ukrainian culture and for Ukrainian performers, actors, directors and everyone who respects their country,” she said.