Babchenko: Putin, not Poroshenko, has destroyed future of Russian language in Ukraine

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2014/11/12 • Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko criticized by some for saying that Russia will never have the status of a state language in in his country is doing no more than ratifying what Russian President Vladimir Putin has already achieved: causing Ukrainians who have spoken Russian all their lives to drop that language and use Ukrainian.

Only a year ago, journalist Arkady Babchenko says in a Facebook post, discussions about making Russian a state language in Ukraine were “completely natural” and didn’t elicit “any particular antagonism”.

Many Russian-speaking Ukrainians saw that as natural, and Babchenko says that he too felt that it was better for Ukrainians to know Russian and other languages, especially “English as an international one.”  But now, he says, even he understands that any possibility of giving Russian official status in Ukraine has been lost for at least “a century and a half.”

And that in fact, he suggests, means that this possibility has been foreclosed “already forever.” International experience shows, Babchenko says, that when nations “depart from any language sphere, as a rule they do not return. Finland is an example of this. Already everyone there speaks English, and almost no one Russian.”

A similar pattern is seen in Eastern Europe, he continues, and in the Baltic countries and Georgia, the younger generation is “either already English speaking or is moving in that direction.”  In Central Asia, their counterparts are leaving Russian and learning Farsi, Pashto, and other languages of neighboring countries.

As a result of what the Ukrainian commentator calls Putin’s “insane imperial policy” over the last 15 years, Russia has lost” the language loyalty of these nations and thus it has lost “this most powerful instrument of attraction,” one that is far more effective and stronger than even economics.

In the medium term, Babchenko says, “Ukraine also will shift to English” in place of Russian, and that will mean that “the points of contact” between the two peoples will be “lost.” “To force Russian-speaking Kyiv to hate the Russian language and to lose in one year 40 million people who had been loyal to that language, one must really be the very greatest of politicians.”

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  • Eddy Verhaeghe

    Putin isn’t a politician, he was and is a KGB-man with all what that entails…

  • LorCanada

    These days English is almost the universal language as it’s much simpler.

    • Arctic_Slicer

      There is nothing “simple” about the English language. It’s near universal because of centuries of dominance by English speaking countries.

  • Brent

    So Putin’s next step to ‘protect Russian speakers’, will have to be to go after….himself!!! How ironic that his imperialist policies are becoming the greatest threat to the Russian language. What a miserable little entity he is. He’s not a man, and not even a person. Just another little “Colorado” beetle…

    I wonder how you spell “K-A-R-M-A” in Russian?

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    The stupidity of the Russian people to allow this tyrant to continue leading their country is beyond what I can understand. 145 million sheep going over the cliff to become irrelevant in two generations. Unbelievable.

    • Michael Couck

      Indeed strange.

  • Greg

    got to love this last line “To force Russian-speaking Kyiv to hate the Russian language and to lose in one year 40 million people who had been loyal to that language, one must really be the very greatest of politicians.” Putin has achieved much in his term))