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Ukraine to ban Greek as official minority language

Ukraine to ban Greek as official minority language

Bills being passed by the Ukrainian parliament in the wake of recent political upheavals may now be threatening among others the rights of the Greek minority in the country

Euthimis Tsiliopoulos

Bills being passed by the Ukrainian parliament after the flight of Viktor Yanukovich have caused the ire of Ukrainians of Russian descent, as well as Moscow, and are raising eyebrows around the world.

Among the bills passed by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) is one of especial interest to Greeks as it bans the use of their native tongue to minorities. Greek was an official minority language in Ukraine, which has a Greek diaspora community of 150,000.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has published an official statement, in which the most recent actions of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine were found illegitimate.

The statement runs that Ukraine is now "rubber stamping" laws violating the right of national minorities, including Russians. All this is being down with reference to revolutionary reforms.

The ministry noted that Ukraine is threatening Russian-speaking individuals and conducting a struggle against monuments of Russian culture.

Earlier, the foreign ministry had expressed concerns about the desecration of monuments in Ukraine, pointing out the demolition of the monument to Kutuzov in the town of Brody on 25 February and the desecration of memorials to Soviet warriors.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also condemned the decision of the Rada to hold early presidential elections on 25 May. Mr Lavrov stated that the move to ban the broadcast of Russian TV channels in Ukraine would be a violation of freedom of speech. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev released similar statements yesterday.

More specifically, on 23 February, the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) voted the following bills:

4201 – Bill to ban Ukrainian Communist Party activity.

4217 – Bill to redress antecedents of the Soviet occupation of Ukraine.

4176 – Bill to repeal law penalizing Nazi propaganda.

4184 – Bill to place V. Avakov as minister of the interior and members of “Right Sector” party on ministry staff (Avakov also belongs to the party which many consider fascist). Σ

4215 – Bill to establish a “Pantheon of national heroes.”

4203 - Bill to curb state spending.

4215 – Bill to pay tribute to participants in the clashes during peaceful demonstrations.

4197 – Bill to place "Svoboda" party member Α.Mahnitskogo as Prosecutor General.

4204 – Bill delineating the duties of the President of the Uraine.

4191 – Bill to place "UDAR" party member V.A. Nalivaychenko as overseer of Ukrainian Security Agencies

4211 – Bill to fire incumbent officers and personnel of security forces and replace them with new personnel (the latter are believed to be members of extreme right wing groups).

4199- Bill to repeal the use of their native language by minorities , which re4fers to Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Greek.

On 25 February, the Rada also voted to send the fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych to The Hague to be tried over the violence that led to at least 82 deaths in Kiev last week.

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