RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 2, No. 40, 31 October 2000

A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.


YUSHCHENKO DENIES DISCRIMINATION AGAINST RUSSIAN SPEAKERS. Premier Viktor Yushchenko told the 24 October "Stolichnye novosti" that there is no "mass Ukrainization of the population" in Ukraine. Yushchenko cited a number of official data testifying to the fact that the use of the Russian language is being freely encouraged in the country's educational and cultural spheres.

Yushchenko said Ukraine has 2,561 general education schools in which instruction takes place in Russian: those schools are attended by 2.3 million children or 34.1 percent of their total number. Additionally, 1.8 million schoolchildren (26.6 percent) learn Russian as a subject at Ukrainian-language schools.

Some 35 percent of students at Ukrainian universities and colleges receive instruction in Russian. In Crimea, all higher educational institutions offer instruction only in Russian; the percentage of Russian-language highereducational institutions is also high in Ukraine's eastern and southern regions: Donetsk Oblast (89.3 percent), Luhansk Oblast (85.6 percent), Odesa Oblast (49.8), and Kharkiv Oblast (41.9 percent).

Of the some 800 titles in Ukraine's catalogue of periodicals, 50 percent are published in Ukrainian, 25 percent in Russian, and 25 percent are bilingual. In eastern and southern regions, 30-50 percent of state television and radio broadcasts are in Russian. According to Yushchenko, in some regions non-state broadcasting companies provide coverage that is 70-90 percent in Russian.

Yushchenko also told the newspaper that Ukraine has 30 Russian-language theaters and 36 that stage plays in both Ukrainian and Russian.

Commenting on the state policy of promoting the Ukrainian language, which is often criticized by Russian circles in Ukraine and some Russian politicians in Moscow, Yushchenko said: "One needs to understand our natural desire to pay more attention to the Ukrainian language, insofar as its use was artificially limited in Ukraine for a long time. Now, you must agree, there is the problem of the Ukrainian language.... It is impossible to force somebody to like a language.... It is necessary to create incentives for a wider use of the official language, to make it prestigious."

COMMUNISTS REMAIN MORE POPULAR THAN OTHERS. The Center for Social and Marketing Studies (SOCIS) has found that if parliamentary elections were held in October, the Communist Party of Ukraine would obtain 20.42 percent of the vote, Interfax reported on 27 October. The poll registered a wide gap between Ukraine's Communists and other parties: the Social Democratic Party (United) would be backed by 4.58 percent of voters, the Popular Rukh of Ukraine (Gennadiy Udovenko's wing) by 4.17 percent, and the Greens Party by 4.17 percent. The other 13 parties mentioned by respondents did not exceed the 4 percent threshold that political parties in Ukraine need to overcome in order to have their candidates elected to the parliament on party tickets. Of those polled, 37.33 percent said they would not vote for any party, while 7.58 percent refused to answer the question about their party preferences in legislative elections.

RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.

UKRAINE, RUSSIA 'PRACTICALLY' CONCLUDE BORDER DELIMITATION. Ambassador at Large Yuriy Kostenko, chief of the Ukrainian delegation to the border delimitation talks with Russia, told journalists on 31 October that the delimitation of the Ukrainian-Russian frontier has "practically" been concluded, Interfax reported. Kostenko said some 30 sections of the border in Rostov Oblast (Russia) as well as Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (Ukraine) remain to be determined. He added that the sides must demonstrate "particular caution" with regard to these sections since they are in densely populated areas. According to Kostenko, an agreement on the delimitation of the Ukrainian-Russian land frontier may be ready for signing in the summer next year. Kostenko admitted that Kyiv and Moscow currently differ on how to determine the maritime part of their border in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. JM