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Kiev’s education law adds fuel to the fire that stoked Donbass conflict — envoy

Instruction in the languages of ethnic minorities will remain only in elementary schools, while all educational instruction in secondary schools and universities will be exclusively in Ukrainian

MOSCOW, September 29. /TASS/. Ukraine’s new law on education fans the flames that sparked the civil war in Donbass in 2014, and as a result this prevents any settlement to the conflict, Russia’s Ambassador to OSCE Alexander Lukashevich stated at a conference of the Organization’s Permanent Council.

"By continuing the earlier line in the language question, Kiev’s authorities are once again inciting the situation and reverting to the grounds, which to a large extent were the flash point to the conflict, and later on the civil war in Ukraine’s southeast," he noted. "Adopting this law prevents the parties to the Ukrainian conflict from rapprochement and postpones any chances for its final settlement."

Although the Russian language is not mentioned directly in the new law, "clearly, the key objective of the current Ukrainian lawmakers is to hugely infringe upon the interests of the millions of Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine, to have by force a mono-ethnic linguistic regime in a multi-ethnic country."

"This initiative of the government in Kiev is an attempt by the Maidan regime to organize a linguistic ‘cleaning’ of the country’s educational atmosphere, which directly contradicts the country’s Constitution, namely Articles 10, 24 and 53, and its undertaken international obligations," he said.

Reaction from Europe and Russia

On September 25, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a new law on education. According to the legislation, starting from 2018, instruction in the languages of ethnic minorities will remain only in elementary schools, while all educational instruction in secondary schools and in colleges and universities will be exclusively in Ukrainian.

Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece and Moldova have voiced concerns over the new law. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis canceled his visit to Ukraine scheduled for October. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest would block any step in the EU that could lead to Ukraine advancing towards European integration.

Ukraine’s law on education undercuts legal norms of a multiethnic state and the international reaction to it should be tough and instantaneous, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Tuesday.

"No doubt, this [law] is an outrageous act of disrespect for the reality of today’s world," he said. "Apart from encroaching on Ukraine’s international obligations, it humiliates the people of many nationalities who live there." Kiev is conscientiously violating the foundations of a multiethnic state and whipping up neo-Nazi sentiments, Karasin continued.

Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, adopted a statement on Wednesday calling on the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and international parliamentary organizations of Europe to provide an unbiased assessment on Ukraine’s educational legislation. On the same day, the State Duma (lower house) passed a statement on the inadmissibility of violating the rights of indigenous people and national minorities living in Ukraine to study in their native languages.

On Thursday, a leading expert from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Oleg Nemensky, said, "the adopted law on education will drastically worsen the level of education in Ukraine. It envisages a slump in the level of secondary education, the number of compulsory subjects would be more than halved and disciplines would be merged which will certainly prevent Ukrainian school students from having a sufficient level of knowledge to enter higher educational institutions in Europe or Russia."