Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law requiring the use of the Ukrainian language in almost all aspects of public life. While the move aims to solidify national identity, it could disenfranchise the country’s Russian speakers.
The law, which passed by 278 votes to 38 on Thursday, obliges all Ukrainian citizens to know the national language, and requires that it be used for all official duties. Doctors, politicians, judges, teachers, and soldiers are all among the groups that will have to speak Ukrainian in the workplace.
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Under the new law, 90 percent of TV and film content produced in Ukraine must be in the national language, while 50 percent of books and other written media must also be in Ukrainian.
Outgoing President Petro Poroshenko was a champion of the law, describing it as “one more important step on the path to our independence.” Poroshenko is expected to sign off on the law before his successor, comedian Volodymyr Zelensky takes office. The president-elect has been speaking mostly Russian during his performances but promised to brush up his Ukrainian skills. Although the recent election brought a change of leader, the makeup of the Rada (Ukrainian parliament) remains unchanged.'
Read more: Ukraine passes controversial language law, isolating Russian-speakers