Ukraine: Situation of Russian-speakers in Kyiv [Kiev], including their ability to access housing, employment, education, and healthcare; treatment by the Right Sector [Pravyi Sektor] political group; state protection (2019–November 2021) [UKR200831.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

July 2021 estimates by the US CIA World Factbook indicate that ethnic Russians make up 17.3 percent of the population of Ukraine (US 27 Sept. 2021). According to sources, Russian is the native language of almost 30 percent of the population (US 27 Sept. 2021; RFE/RL 16 July 2019), while Ukrainian is the native language of approximately 67 (RFE/RL 16 July 2019) or 67.5 percent of the population (US 27 Sept. 2021). An article by Reuters indicates that "Ukrainian is the predominant language in western Ukraine, while Russian is predominant in much of the east. Both languages are spoken widely in the capital Kiev, and a large proportion of the population speaks both fluently" (Reuters 25 Apr. 2019). According to a study [1] conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) [2] from February to March 2019, 46 percent of Ukrainians "speak mostly or only the Ukrainian language with their closest relatives i.e. parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters," while 28.1 percent of Ukrainians "speak mostly or only [the] Russian language" (KIIS 15 Mar. 2019). The same source further finds that 24.9 percent of Ukrainians speak both languages "in equal proportion" (KIIS 15 Mar. 2019). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a research fellow at the University of Bremen in Germany who specializes in elite social groups, and Ukrainian-Russian relations stated that

the Russian language dominated in cities, working settlements, as well as partially in rural areas in southern and eastern Ukraine. In rural areas, in central and northern Ukraine, as a rule, they speak Ukrainian, or even more often Surzhik (this is a group of dialects combining Ukrainian and Russian vocabulary). But this is a relatively small part of the country's population. (Research Fellow 4 Nov. 2021)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a "private and non-profit corporation" funded by the US Congress (RFE/RL n.d.), states that "Russian is spoken mostly in urban areas" (RFE/RL 16 July 2019).

2. Legislation

The Constitution of Ukraine provides the following:

Article 10

The state language of Ukraine is the Ukrainian language.

The state ensures the comprehensive development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of social life throughout the entire territory of Ukraine.

In Ukraine, the free development, use and protection of Russian, and other languages of national minorities of Ukraine, is guaranteed.

The state promotes the learning of languages of international communication.

The use of languages in Ukraine is guaranteed by Constitution of Ukraine and is determined by a law.

Article 11

The state promotes the consolidation and development of the Ukrainian nation, its historical consciousness, traditions and culture, and also the development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of all indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine.

Article 24

Citizens have equal constitutional rights and freedoms and are equal before the law.

There shall be no privileges or restrictions based on race, colour of skin, political, religious and other beliefs, sex, ethnic and social origin, property status, place of residence, linguistic or other characteristics.

Article 53

Everybody has the right to education.

Citizens who belong to national minorities are guaranteed the right to receive instruction in their native language, or to study their native language in state and communal educational establishments and through national cultural societies in accordance with the law. (Ukraine 1996, bold in original)

2.1 Law on Supporting the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language

Sources report that the Ukrainian parliament approved legislation in April 2019 that will "'secure' the use of Ukrainian as the official 'state language'" (RFE/RL 25 Apr. 2019) or "that grants special status to the Ukrainian language" (Reuters 25 Apr. 2019). The Law on Supporting the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language provides the following:

Article 2. The scope of the Law

  1. This Law governs the functioning and use of the Ukrainian language as the State language throughout Ukraine in the spheres of public life referred to in this Law.
  2. This Law shall not apply to the sphere of private communication and the conduct of religious rites.
  3. The procedure for the use of the Crimean Tatar language or other languages of indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine in the respective spheres of public life is determined by the law on the procedure for the exercise of rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine, subject to the specific features determined by this Law.

Article 9. Persons required to be proficient in, and use the State language in the course of their official duties

1. The following persons shall be required to be proficient in, and use the State language in the course of their official duties

  1. President of Ukraine, Prime Minister of Ukraine, First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Vice Prime Ministers of Ukraine, other members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, first deputies and deputy ministers, heads of other central executive bodies and their deputies, Head of the Administration of the President of Ukraine and his deputies, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine and his deputies, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine and his deputies, Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine and his deputies, the Prosecutor General and his deputies, heads of regional and local prosecutor’s offices, head of the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and his deputies, members of the Council of the National Bank of Ukraine, Chairman and other members of the Accounting Chamber, Chairman of the Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine, other State Commissioners of the Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine, heads of the local offices of the Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine, members of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, members of the National Commission for Standards of the State Language, members of the Central Election Commission, members of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, members of national committees for regulation of natural monopolies, members of the National Securities and Stock Market Commission, members of the National Commission for State Regulation in the Field of the Market of Financial Services, members of other State collegial bodies, Chairman of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine and his deputies, Chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine and his deputies, permanent representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, President of Ukraine at the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights and his representatives, Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and his deputies, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and his deputies, ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and his deputies;
  2. deputies of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, deputies of local councils, officers of local self-government authorities;
  3. civil servants;
  4. chairmen of local state administrations, their first deputies and deputies;
  5. employees of the National Bank of Ukraine;
  6. military servicemen of the officer rank, who do military service under contracts;
  7. middle- and senior-ranking superiors of the National Police, other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, officers of other bodies, to whom special ranks are awarded;
  8. personnel of private, sergeant, and sergeant-major ranks of the National Police, other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and other bodies, to whom special ranks are awarded;
  9. prosecutors;
  10. judges who have been elected or appointed in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine and administer justice on a professional basis, members and disciplinary inspectors of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine, members of the High Council of Justice;
  11. lawyers;
  12. notaries;
  13. heads of educational institutions of all patterns of ownership;
  14. education, academic and education, academic workers, other than foreigners and stateless persons, who have been invited to educational institutions and/or academic institutions and work on a temporary basis as academic, education, or academic and education workers, or teachers of foreign languages;
  15. medical personnel of State and communal health care institutions;
  16. officers and officials, other than persons who are not citizens of Ukraine, of State- and community-owned enterprises, institutions and organisations not referred to in paragraphs 1.1– 15 of this Article.

2. Persons applying for election or appointment to the positions referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be required to be proficient in the State language.

Article 16. Use of the State language in law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, special-purpose government agencies with law enforcement functions

2. An employee of a law enforcement agency, intelligence agency, special-purpose government agency with law enforcement functions may communicate with a person who does not understand the State language in a language acceptable for both parties, as well as via an interpreter.

Article 21. The State language in the field of education

1. The language of educational process in educational institutions shall be the State language.

The State guarantees every citizen of Ukraine the right to receive formal education at all levels (preschool, secondary general, occupational (vocational), professional pre-higher and higher), as well as extramural and postgraduate education in the State language at the State and communal educational institutions.

Persons from among national minorities of Ukraine shall be guaranteed the right to study at communal educational institutions, in order to receive preschool and primary education, in the language of the respective national minority of Ukraine, along with the State language. This right shall be exercised by setting up, in accordance with the law, of separate classes (groups) providing education in the language of the respective national minority of Ukraine along with the State language, and shall not apply to classes (groups) providing education in the State language.

Persons from among indigenous peoples of Ukraine shall be guaranteed the right to study at communal educational institutions, in order to receive preschool and secondary general education, in the language of the respective indigenous peoples of Ukraine, along with the State language. This right shall be exercised by setting up, in accordance with the law, of separate classes (groups) providing education in the language of the respective indigenous peoples of Ukraine along with the State language, and shall not apply to classes (groups) providing education in the State language.

Persons from among indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine shall also be guaranteed the right to study the native language of the respective indigenous people or national minority of Ukraine at communal secondary general education institutions or via national cultural societies.

Persons with impaired hearing shall be guaranteed the right to study sign language and to learn the Ukrainian sign language.

2. Educational institutions, including occupational (vocational), professional pre-higher and higher education institutions, shall provide for mandatory study of the State language to the extent that would allow for professional activity to be pursued in the selected field using the State language.

Persons from among indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine, foreigners and stateless persons shall be provided with adequate facilities for study of the State language.

Article 30. The State language in the field of consumer services

1. The language of consumer services in Ukraine shall be the State language.

2. Enterprises, institutions and organisations of all patterns of ownership, individual entrepreneurs, other economic entities that serve consumers (except as stipulated in paragraph 3 of this Article) shall deliver services and provide information about goods (services), including via online shops and online catalogues, in the State language. Information in the State language may be duplicated in other languages.

3. At the request of a client, services may also be provided to him personally in another language acceptable to the parties.

5. Information about goods and services within Ukraine shall be provided in the State language.

Article 33. The State language in the field of health care

  1. The language in the field of health care, medical assistance and medical services shall be the State language.
  2. At the request of a person seeking medical assistance or health care services, such services may also be provided to him personally in another language acceptable to the parties.
  3. Documentation on patients' state of health shall be drawn up by health care institutions in the State language.
  4. The language of the acts regulating the operation of health care institutions, record keeping and document management shall be the State language.
  5. Health care institutions shall use medical terminology in their documentation according to the standards established by the National Commission for Standards of the State Language. (Ukraine 2019, bold in original)

RFE/RL, quoting a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, states that the 2019 bill "contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution[,]" "promotes the 'Ukranization' of the country[,]" and "in some case[s] directly ban[s] the use of Russian and the languages of ethnic minorities in different spheres of social life" (RFE/RL 25 Apr. 2019). Reuters, citing "a prominent figure in Ukraine's Russia-friendly opposition," reports that the law "violated the constitutional rights of millions of Ukrainian Russian-speakers" (Reuters 25 Apr. 2019). A statement from the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) indicates that "[Ukrainian] authorities do not consider native speakers of Russian, who are not immigrants and who make up a huge part of the Ukrainian population, to be an indigenous population of this country" (Russia 27 Jan. 2020). According to the same source,

[i]n areas where communities previously had the right to choose their language, they are now being deprived of that choice. Under the guise of measures to protect the Ukrainian language, legislative acts have been adopted and have entered into force with the real aim of ousting Russian and minority languages from virtually all sectors of public life. … These laws significantly reduce the opportunities for non-Ukrainian-speaking citizens to fully participate in public life while preserving their ethnocultural identity. Both coercive and restrictive measures are being introduced. Coercive – in terms of the promotion of the Ukrainian language, restrictive – through the introduction of penalties for the failure to use it. (Russia 27 Jan. 2020)

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG), a human rights organization based in Kharkiv (KHPG 30 Nov. 1999), indicates that a 2019 public opinion survey conducted after the new law "came into force" by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF), a Ukrainian think tank "that conducts original research" including research and analysis of public opinion trends (DIF n.d.), found that "[o]nly 11% felt that the situation for Russian speakers had worsened, while 5% said that the situation had improved and 72% saw no change" (KHPG 17 June 2020). According to a study [3] conducted by KIIS from 31 May to 4 June 2020, 36.3 percent of respondents answered "I fully agree" and 30.2 percent responded "rather, I agree" to the question "[d]o you agree or disagree with the opinion that the state should contribute to the further implementation of the Law on Language in all areas?" (KIIS 29 July 2020).

According to UNHCR, "[i]mplementation of the law will create opportunities for non-Ukrainian speakers to learn Ukrainian free of charge" and "[r]ecognized refugees who apply for naturalization may benefit from public courses of the Ukrainian language to be able to pass a language test" (UN Apr. 2019). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester, who specializes in the study of political behavior and identity in Ukraine, indicated that "Ukrainian language training classes are available through government programs" (Senior Lecturer in politics 26 Oct. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of anthropology at the University of Washington who specializes in language ideology and language politics in Ukraine stated that "free Ukrainian language courses for adults are widely available to enable people to keep or access jobs that require Ukrainian" (Professor 28 Oct. 2021).

2.2 Law About General Secondary Education

The Ukrainian Independent News Agency of News (UNIAN), a news agency in Ukraine that publishes in Ukrainian, Russian and English (UNIAN n.d.), reports that the Verkhovna Rada [parliament of Ukraine] passed bill No. 0901 on secondary education in January 2020 (UNIAN 16 Jan. 2020). A copy of the law could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. According to UNIAN, the law includes a "model[,]" which

concerns national minorities whose language belongs to one of the Ukrainian language families, as well as those who live mainly in the environment of their own speech (Russian language). Primary schools there will also have a minority language along with the study of Ukrainian, and from grade 5 at least 80% of school hours will be instructed in the official language. (UNIAN 16 Jan. 2020)

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine 16 November 2019 to 15 February 2020 states that

although the law on secondary education guarantees the instruction in the language of indigenous people along with instruction in Ukrainian, it fails to indicate the exact proportions. This raises concerns as to the level of protection provided for indigenous peoples' linguistic rights. The law on the realisation of the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities should also address this issue and provide appropriate protection for instruction [in] the languages of indigenous peoples in school. (UN 12 Mar. 2020, para. 112).

The statement by the representative of Russia to the OSCE notes that

the Ukrainian authorities are taking great pains to oust the Russian language from almost all educational processes funded by the budget. In line with the new developments, the Russian language is subject to multiple layers of discrimination in schools – both in relation to the Ukrainian language and the languages of the so-called indigenous peoples of Ukraine, and in relation to the languages of the European Union countries, since for the latter there is a delay in the entry into force of the new rules.

On 16 January [2020], the Verkhovna Rada adopted another law regulating educational rights – this time the Law on Full General Secondary Education. Together with a number of provisions aimed at modernizing educational methods, the law contains articles on language that deprive Russian-speaking Ukrainians of the right to receive State general secondary education in their native language after primary school. … In State schools, Russian-speaking students are now being asked to study at least 80 per cent of educational programmes in Ukrainian. (Russia 27 Jan. 2020)

3. Treatment of Russian-Speakers in Kyiv

RFE/RL reports that "Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine claim Kyiv is deliberately curtailing the use of the Russian language" (RFE/RL 25 Apr. 2019). In contrast, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, a Ukrainian journalist who specializes in Ukraine's foreign policy, Ukrainian-Russian relations, and Ukraine's European integration indicated that "[t]here are no problems with [the] treatment of Russian speakers in Kyiv" (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021). Other sources similarly stated that "Russian speakers are not treated in any particular way in Kyiv" (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021) or "Russian speakers are treated neutrally in Kiev" (PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021).

According to sources, Kyiv "is still mostly a Russian-speaking city" (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021) or "in general," a "Russian-speaking city" (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021). Sources indicated that Russian is the "lingua franca" in Kyiv (Associate Professor 1 Nov. 2021; Senior Lecturer in politics 26 Oct. 2021). The Professor noted that currently, "the presence of Ukrainian and Russian languages in public in Kyiv is closer to equal, with [the] Russian language still a bit more widespread in use" (Professor 28 Oct. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a senior lecturer in linguistics at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, who specializes in multilingualism among Ukrainians in Ukraine, indicated that "almost all people in Kyiv speak both Russian and Ukrainian" and both languages are heard "regularly throughout the day" (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021). The same source further noted that "if there is any discrimination against Russian speakers, that comes from bias of individuals but it [is] relatively uncommon in Kyiv" (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Head Research Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine's Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, a research institution funded by the Ukrainian government, whose fields of research include the politics of language, memory, and identity in contemporary Ukraine indicated that

there is absolutely no evidence that any systematic discrimination or mistreatment of Russian speakers takes place in any domain or that particular Russian speakers are discriminated or mistreated regularly or often. Not only are they never denied service, offended, or otherwise mistreated if addressing their interlocutors in Russian in any public or private domain but also, more often than not, they are served in that language based on their demonstrated preference (or the preference of service providers). (Head Research Fellow 29 Oct. 2021)

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a PhD student in of political studies at the University of Ottawa who researches the political implications of having Russophone identities in Ukraine indicated that "a practice of non-accommodation bilingualism, carrying the conversation in both languages, Ukrainian and Russian simultaneously, is widespread in Ukraine" and "the use of Russian is considered normal in Ukraine" (PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a lecturer with the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Columbia University stated that Kyiv "is a city that welcomes both Russian and Ukrainian [speakers]. Most Ukrainian citizens are bi-lingual. In fact, [the] Russian language continues to dominate most public spaces in Kyiv" and there "really [is not] a bounded category of people known as 'Russian-speakers'" (Lecturer 19 Oct. 2021). The journalist provided the following information:

Although Ukrainian language did some advance/gains in the government and local administrations, it is still [the] Russian language that dominates the streets and everyday life of most Kyivans. The term 'Russian speaker' should be defined as a term, which describes the majority of actually ethnic Ukrainians who use [the] Russian language in daily life. …There [are] no restrictions on the use of [the] Russian language -- quite the opposite -- if you ask, for instance, a waiter [something] in Ukrainian, the reply most likely will be in Russian. (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021)

3.1 Treatment of Russian-Speakers by the Right Sector Political Group

Sources stated that the Right Sector "has been a rather marginal group for [the last] five years" (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021) or "is a fringe organization with no parliamentary representation and no factions in the councils on local level" (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021). According to the Head Research Fellow, the Right Sector "is almost non-existent" (Head Research Fellow 29 Oct. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the General Director of KIIS noted that the Right Sector is a "marginal party" and did not run in the 2019 election (General Director 26 Oct. 2021). According to the PhD student, the Right Sector is "a political group that has no significant political power in Ukraine" (PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the head of the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group, a group that monitors antisemitism in Ukraine (NOA n.d.), indicated that the Right Sector "has been in deep crisis for many years, and it hardly numbers more than a few dozen people in Kyiv" (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021).

According to sources, "the Right Sector's speaker is a Russophone" (PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021) or members of the Right Sector are Russian speakers (Associate Professor 1 Nov. 2021). The Head Research Fellow stated that "while its leaders spoke Ukrainian, at least in public, most of its rank-and-file members were Russian speakers" (Head Research Fellow 29 Oct. 2021). The journalist provided the following information:

It is easy to brand the Right Sector as [a] staunchly nationalistic organisation. But in reality the situation is more nuanced. For instance, a lot of ethnic Russians from Russia fought in the ranks of [the] Right Sector as volunteers in Eastern Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists. The spokesman of Right Sector was a Russian man from Russia who communicated quite often in Russian language. (Journalist 19 Oct. 2021)

The Head of the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group similarly indicated that the Right Sector "theoretically declares a negative attitude to the Russian language. On a practical level, the official spokesperson of the [Right Sector] is a Russian speaker, as well as many other key activists of the group" (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021).

In contrast, the Senior Lecturer in linguistics stated that

in general, [the Right Sector] disfavours people speaking Russian. For some members of this political group, that is the extent of it. For others, they speak out against and protest against Russian speakers. This latter part of the group would be those more likely to discriminate against Russian speakers. However, the majority of people in Kyiv do not approve of such discriminatory practice. (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021)

The Research Fellow stated that the "there are many other right-wing and neo-Nazi groups [in Kyiv] (Azov is the biggest) exerting significant pressure on those who might try to defend the rights of Russian-speakers or speak publicly in Russian in an oppositional spirit" (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Access to Housing

According to sources, Russian speakers are able to access housing in Kyiv (Lecturer 19 Oct. 2021; PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021; Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021) or have "the same access to housing as Ukrainian speakers" (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021). Other sources stated that Russian speakers face "no problem[s]" accessing housing in Kyiv (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021; Journalist 18 Oct. 2021).

5. Access to Employment

Sources indicated that Russian-speakers are able to access employment in Kyiv (Lecturer 19 Oct. 2021; PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021) or "have the same access to … employment as Ukrainian speakers" (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021). The journalist noted that "if someone wants to work in the government or local government, he/she needs to be able to communicate in Ukrainian" (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021). The Senior Lecturer in multilingualism similarly indicated that "if the person is seeking employment in a government or service position, they will be expected to know at least basic Ukrainian in order to abide by the new language law" (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, an associate professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts, who specializes in Ukrainian political development, nationalism, nation-building, and citizenship, indicated that "by law, companies are supposed to communicate in writing in Ukrainian with one another, especially government agencies" and that there might be limitations if a Russian speaker "does not speak a word of Ukrainian"; however, Russian-speakers who grew up in Ukraine would have sufficient knowledge of Ukrainian "to write a simple letter in Ukrainian" (Associate Professor 1 Nov. 2021). The same source noted that an individual can speak Russian in the office and with their colleagues, "but sufficient command in written Ukrainian is required" (Associate Professor 1 Nov. 2021). According to the Senior Lecturer in politics, "in some sectors/posts (like in the service industry) Russian speakers might be asked to use Ukrainian if a client requests it (only whilst on the job)" (Senior Lecturer in politics 26 Oct. 2021). When asked whether Russian speakers are able to access employment in Kyiv, the Research Fellow stated that "[t]here is discrimination in hiring in government bodies, in the system of culture, science, education and in some private companies" (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021).

6. Access to Education

According to sources, Russian speakers are able to access education in Kyiv (Lecturer 19 Oct. 2021; PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021) or "have the same access to education" as Ukrainian speakers (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021). The journalist indicated that there are seven schools that teaches in Russian and nine schools that teaches in both Russian and Ukrainian in Kyiv (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021). The Associate Professor noted that "there are some state schools that teach in Russian in Kyiv, but not that many," however, "there are more options for Russian private schools" (Associate Professor 1 Nov. 2021). According to the Senior Lecturer in linguistics, "secondary and tertiary education are now conducted primarily in Ukrainian (other than language subject courses)," while "there is more linguistic accommodation at the pre-school and primary school levels" (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021). The Senior Lecturer in politics noted that "in Russophone cities like Kyiv whilst officially, all state education is in Ukrainian, in practice, students and teachers speak Russian throughout sessions and in the classroom" (Senior Lecturer in politics 26 Oct. 2021). According to the Head Research Fellow, "the large majority of Kyiv's schools and other educational establishments have Ukrainian as their official language of instruction, but speakers of other languages are not denied admission (in certain cases that involves an exam or other test of their language and other abilities)" (Head Research Fellow 29 Oct. 2021). The same source further noted that "at most schools and other establishments Russian is widely used outside of – or even inside – [the] classroom" (Head Research Fellow 29 Oct. 2021).

In contrast, the Research Fellow stated that "there are very serious problems" for Russian-speakers, "since all education has been translated into Ukrainian, and Russian is prohibited for use" (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021). The Head of the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group indicated that "due to the fact that Ukrainian is the only state language in Ukraine, education in state educational institutions is carried out in Ukrainian" (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021). Similarly, the Senior Lecturer in politics noted that "education in the state language (Ukrainian) applies to the whole territory of Ukraine and this requirement is no different in Kyiv" (Senior Lecturer in politics 26 Oct. 2021). According to the Head Research Fellow, "Russian speakers may be somewhat disadvantaged in admission to universities because of their generally worse mastery of Ukrainian than that of persons primarily speaking the latter language in everyday life," however, "it is a matter of proficiency (and thus of social background, quality of education, and individual talent and effort) rather than any discrimination based on their preferred language" (Head Research Fellow 29 Oct. 2021).

According to the study conducted by KIIS from February to March 2019, when respondents were asked the question "[i]n your opinion, how much time should be devoted to learning the Russian language in Ukrainian-speaking schools?" the answers were distributed as follows:

  • 29.9% – the same amount of time as to learning Ukrainian;
  • 25.9% – less time than to learning Ukrainian but more time than to learning foreign languages (English, German, etc.);
  • 25.4% – same or less amount of time than to learning foreign languages (English, German, etc.)
  • 7.8% – no need to study it at all;
  • 11% [–] [hesitated] or refused to answer. (KIIS 15 Mar. 2019)

7. Access to Healthcare

Sources noted that Russian-speakers are able to access healthcare in Kyiv (Lecturer 19 Oct. 2021; PhD Student 22 Oct. 2021; Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021). A Wilson Center [4] blog post by Natalia Kudriavtseva, an associate professor of English-Ukrainian translation at Kherson National Technical University in Ukraine who conducted research on Ukrainian language revitalization in southeastern Ukraine (Forum for Ukrainian Studies n.d.), indicates that the language of "public medicine is Ukrainian, though a different language may be used if the client or patient requests it" (Kudriavtseva 8 July 2019). According to the Senior Lecturer in linguistics, "those seeking services can request that languages other than Ukrainian be used," including Russian (Senior Lecturer in linguistics 26 Oct. 2021). The Associate Professor noted that "if a patient wants to receive services in Ukrainian, the doctors have to provide it; but this does not prevent doctors from providing services in Russian" (Associate Professor 1 Nov. 2021). The Guardian reports that the 2019 language law permits "some providers of health services" to use "other languages, such as Russian, by mutual agreement" (The Guardian 25 Apr. 2019). According to the journalist, "there [are] no restrictions in access to healthcare in [the] Russian language" and "healthcare is still heavily [in the] Russian-language [in the] sphere of [the] public service" (Journalist 18 Oct. 2021). The Head of the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group indicated that "proficiency in the state language is not required to apply for medical care" (Head of National Minority Rights Monitoring Group 21 Oct. 2021). According to the Research Fellow, Russian speakers are able to access healthcare in Kyiv "in general," although "Ukrainian 'patriots' are putting increasing pressure on this area" (Research Fellow 18 Oct. 2021).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted an "all-Ukrainian public opinion poll by the client's request" among 2,004 respondents "living in 129 settlements in all oblasts of Ukraine (except for the A[utonomous] R[epublic] of Crimea) with the method of personal interviewing" (KIIS 15 Mar. 2019). The same source notes that the sample was "representative of the population of Ukraine aged 18 and above," except in the oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, where the survey was "conducted only in the territories that are controlled by the Ukrainian government" (KIIS 15 Mar. 2019).

[2] KIIS is a private Ukrainian sociological and market research company that works collaboratively with the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (KIIS n.d.).

[3] KIIS conducted a survey on the socio-political and socio-economic opinions of Ukrainian aged 18 and over from May to June 2020 (KIIS 29 July 2020). The same source notes that a total of 2,000 interviews were conducted between 31 May and 4 June 2020 with survey respondents that are representative of the "structure of the population of Ukraine as a whole" (KIIS 29 July 2020).

[4] The Wilson Center is a "non-partisan policy forum" chartered by the US Congress (Wilson Center n.d.).

References

Associate Professor, Tufts University. 1 November 2021. Telephone interview with the Research Directorate.

Forum for Ukrainian Studies, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. N.d. "Author: Natalia Kudriavtseva." [Accessed 8 Nov. 2021]

General Director, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS). 26 October 2021. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

The Guardian. 25 April 2019. Andrew Roth. "Ukraine Adopts Language Law Opposed by Kremlin." [Accessed 14 Oct. 2021]

Head Research Fellow, Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. 29 October 2021. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF). N.d. "About ILKO Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF)." [Accessed 2 Nov. 2021]

Journalist. 18 October 2021. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: assistant professor at a university in Canada that specializes in Russian politics, Soviet and post-Soviet Ukraine, regionalism, human rights, rebellion and revolution; associate professor at a university in Canada that specializes in changing state boundaries, political economic relations, and geopolitics in Ukraine; associate professor at a university in Canada who specializes in political anthropology, human rights and social movements in Ukraine; Belgium – Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons; chair of international law department at a university in Ukraine who specializes in international human rights and genocide studies; Center for Civil Liberties; director at a university in Germany who specializes in post-community transition processes in Ukraine, democratisation and authoritarianism, war and ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe, and protest dynamics; Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation; journalist who specializes on far-right politics in Ukraine; Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group; No Borders Project – Social Action Center; professor and chair of Ukrainian studies at a university in Canada; professor at an American university who specializes in political regimes, ethnic politics, federalism, democratization, political parties, and politics of post-soviet countries; professor at a university in Canada that specializes in the formation of Ukraine since the 19th century; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; senior research fellow at an academy in the Ukraine who specializes in urban sociology, nationalism, memory, and migration studies; Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research; Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union; Ukrainian Institute of Politics; University of Alberta – Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies; US – Embassy of the United States in Kyiv; Wilson Center.

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