Question: Can you comment on the information about exemptions for Hungarian and other EU languages in Ukraine’s Law on Education?
Maria Zakharova: We were alarmed to read information in some Ukrainian media that Ukraine’s Law on Education, which is already notorious all over the world due to its discriminatory nature, will acquire new provisions – it is alleged that exemptions will be granted to Hungarian and other EU languages.
Needless to say, we are happy for our Hungarian partners whose compatriots will receive certain benefits. But that immediately raises a different question: What about the rights of millions of Russian speakers and other ethnic communities? Is it possible that one of the core ethnicities of the Ukrainian state – Russians – will lose the ability to be educated conveniently in the mother tongue they are accustomed to, which they as well as many Ukrainians have been using in everyday life for hundreds of years? This is a source of serious concern. Such a move amounts to discrimination and linguistic racism. In a word, the Kiev authorities have just made the bad situation worse.
We are persistently urging the international community to prevent Ukraine’s Russian speakers from being denied their rights, to denounce the actions of the Kiev authorities that are violating their own Constitution and international human rights commitments (under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the UN Convention Against Discrimination in Education), and to demand that they guarantee that the rights of all ethnic groups living in Ukraine will be respected.