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Regulating Minority Languages in Ukraine’s Educational System: Debate, Legal Framework and Implementation

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Part of the Federalism and Internal Conflicts book series (FEINCO)


The chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of the development of policies on minority languages in Ukraine’s educational system, and in public debate, from 1991 to the present, combining legal analysis with the analysis of media discourses. Finding high politicization of the language-in-education issue in Ukraine, it maps key trajectories for the future course of Ukraine’s policies as to language in education.


  • Language
  • Education
  • Media debate
  • Venice Commission
  • Ukraine

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-80971-3_4
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    Mykola Romaniuk, Zakon ne dvoh, a trioh ‘k’: Kremlya, Kivalova, Kolesnichenka’ skasovano: shcho dali?’[The law not of two, but three ‘k’: ‘Kremlin, Kivalov, Kolesnichenko’ Is Abolished: What Is Next?, Ukrinform, n.d., (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    See ‘Verkhovna Rada Repeals Law on Minority Languages’, Radio Svoboda, 23 February 2014, (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    See note 43 supra.

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    Konstituczi`jnyi`j Sud Ukrayini [Constitutional Court of Ukraine], Rishennyau spravi` za konstituczi`jnim podannyam 57 narodnikh deputati`v Ukrayini shhodo vi`dpovi`dnosti` Konstituczi`yi Ukrayini (konstituczi`jnosti`) Zakonu Ukrayini, Pro zasadi derzhavnoyi movnoyi poli`tiki [Decision on a case based on the Constitutional Appeal by 57 MPs of Ukraine regarding conformity with the Constitution (Constitutionality) of the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Foundations of State Language Policy’], 2018, (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    Ukrayinska Pravda, V Rossii boyatsya, chto v Ukraine ne budet russkoyazy`chny`kh detej [Russia Is Afraid There Would Be no Russian-Speaking Children in Ukraine], Ukrayinska Pravda, 17 January 2020, (accessed 3 April 2020); A. Lubensky, Yazy`kovaya bomba’ zalozhena pod Ukrainu. Smozhet li ee obezvredit` Sovbez OON? [Language Bomb Is Planted in Ukraine. Can the UN Security Council Defuse It?’],, 16 July 2019, (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    Yaryna Busol, Chem Ukraine grozit dvuyazy` chie? [How Does Bilingualism Threaten Ukraine?], Ukrayinska Pravda, 24 April 2019, (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    Ibid.; see also note 35 supra.

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    See note 57 supra; see also: Radio Svoboda, Zakhi` dni` Reakczi`yi na Novij Movnij Zakon [Western Reactions to the New Language Law], Radio Svoboda, 26 April 2019, (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    See note 57 supra.

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    Maksym Sydorzhevsky, Ugorshhyna ta Rumuni`ya oburylisya cherez novyj zakon pro osvitu v Ukrayini [Hungary and Romania Outraged at Education Law in Ukraine], Deutsche Welle, 8 September,гopщинa-тa-pyмyнiя-oбypилиcя-чepeз-нoвий-зaкoн-пpo-ocвiтy-в-yкpaїнi/a-40410674 (accessed 3 April 2020).

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    István Csernicskó and Mihály Toth, The Right to Education in Minority Languages: Central European Traditions and the Case of Transcarpathia (Uzhgorod: AudorShark, 2019); János Fiala-Butora, The Controversy over Ukraine’s New Law on Education: Conflict Prevention and Minority Rights Protection as Divergent Objectives?, European Yearbook of Minority Issues 17:1 (2020): 233–261,

  63. 63.

    European Commission for Democracy through Law, Opinion on the Provisions of the Law on Education of 5 September 2017 № 902/2017, 11 December 2017, (accessed 3 April 2020).

  64. 64.

    Ibid., p. 13.

  65. 65.


  66. 66.


  67. 67.

    Ibid., p. 21.

  68. 68.

    Ibid., p. 25.

  69. 69.

    Ivan Toronchuk and Volodymyr Markovskyi, The implementation of the Venice Commission Recommendations on the Provision of the Minorities Language Rights in the Ukrainian Legislation, European Journal of Law and Public Administration 5 (2018): 59–60.

  70. 70.

    European Commission for Democracy through Law, Opinion on the Law on Supporting the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language № 960/2019, 9 December 2019, (accessed 3 April 2020).

  71. 71.

    Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy, Zakon Ukrainy Pro Povnu Zagal’nu Seredniu Osvitu [On Full General Secondary Education] № 463-IX, Vidomosti Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy, 16 January 2020, (accessed 3 April 2020).

  72. 72.

    See note 70 supra, p. 29.

  73. 73.

    Ibid., pp. 29–30.

  74. 74.

    Ibid., p. 9.

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Rabinovych, M., Berg-Nordlie, M. (2021). Regulating Minority Languages in Ukraine’s Educational System: Debate, Legal Framework and Implementation. In: Aasland, A., Kropp, S. (eds) The Accommodation of Regional and Ethno-cultural Diversity in Ukraine. Federalism and Internal Conflicts. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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