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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Russians in Ukraine

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Date(s) Item
1917 Economic and political collapse brings about the downfall of Czarist Russia and the establishment of the Soviet Union.
Nov 22, 1917 The Central Rada of Kiev (the council of the main Ukrainian national organization) issues decree establishing the Ukrainian Republic which is to work towards a federation of other nations of the former Russian Empire.
Dec 1917 Competing claims of statehood are issued by the Ukrainian Bolsheviks and Russian Bolshevik troops invade.
Feb 1918 The Central Rada signs an agreement with the Germans to gain German and Austrian protection from the Bolsheviks. This leads to a major loss of support from Ukrainian nationalists. As the Germans lose the war, the Central Rada is removed from power by December. In April, a "Hetmanate" is established which gets support from the Russian Bolsheviks.
Mar 13, 1918 The Ukraine (the Central Rada) declares the Black Sea fleet, Ukrainian. By the end of April, the fleet sails under the Ukrainian flag.
1919 - 1921 Anarchy reigns throughout the eastern part of Ukraine. The Russian Bolsheviks attempt two more unsuccessful invasions. Finally in late 1921, the Bolsheviks defeat the Ukrainian nationalists and it is absorbed into the Soviet Union.
1945 Following the end of World War II, Stalin begins to industrialize the Soviet Union with renewed vigor. In the process, he "encourages" Russians and Belarusians to settle in and help re-industrialize Ukraine.
1989 Ukrainian Supreme Soviet votes to declare Ukrainian the sole official language of the Ukrainian SSR. In the last Soviet census, while only 44% of the Donbas region identified themselves as ethnically Russian and 51% identified themselves as Ukrainian, 66% of them identified Russian as their "mother tongue." Herein lies the problem of identifying the size of the Russian group in eastern Ukraine. Ethnically, Russians are a minority in eastern Ukraine (about 47%), but as a linguistic group, they are a majority (about 67%).
Jul 16, 1990 The Ukrainian SSR declares its state sovereignty.
Dec 1990 The Intermovement of Donbas organizes to oppose the implementation of the 1989 language law. The group has remained active ever since, though it has remained out of electoral politics for the large part.
Feb 12, 1991 The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet restores the Crimea as an autonomous republic within the borders of the Ukraine.
May 1991 The Communist officials order nationalist deputy Stepan Khmara (of Ruhk) arrested and tried for exceeding his authority and other charges. Members of Ruhk widely view this as a maneuver by Communists against the Ukrainian nationalist movement.
Aug 1991 An attempted coup against Gorbachev fails on the 21st. On the 24th, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet declares the Ukraine's independence. The Communist Party of Ukraine is banned for its support of the coup attempt.
Sep 4, 1991 Separately, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet affirms the immunity granted to Ruhk deputy Stepan Khmara for charges leveled against him in May by Communist officials. Early relations between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians (even nationalists) are mainly cooperative.
Dec 1, 1991 A referendum is held in the Ukraine on independence simultaneously with presidential elections. Leonid Kravchuk is elected the first president of the Ukraine, and the independence of the Ukraine is supported by the referendum. Support in eastern Ukraine is strong.
Jan 1992 The Russian Foreign Ministry and parliament condemn the transfer of Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954.
May 21, 1992 With relations between Russia and Ukraine becoming irritated, Russian parliament passes a resolution declaring the 1954 transfer of Crimea illegal and calling for negotiations on the future of Crimea.
Jun 23, 1992 The Dagomys Summit between the Ukraine and Russia takes place. An agreement is signed dividing the Black Sea Fleet equally by 1995.
Jan 13, 1993 A Russian, Rear Admiral Baltin, was confirmed by both Ukrainian and Russian presidents as commander of the Black Sea Fleet.
Apr 25, 1993 Two vessels of the Black Sea Fleet pledge allegiance to Ukraine. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry accepts the ships into the Ukrainian Navy. The fleet command denounces this move as a violation of the Yalta agreement. The battle between Ukraine and Russia over the Black Sea Fleet mainly affects the Russians in Crimea, not those in the rest of Ukraine.
May 31, 1993 The Defense Council meets over the situation with the fleet. The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists declares that all ships flying the Russian flag be withdrawn from Ukrainian waters and the Yalta and Dagomys agreements be voided.
Jun 5, 1993 Miners in mainly Russian-speaking, eastern Ukraine go on strike for better wages and living conditions. The strike is supported largely along linguistic and ethnic lines: Russian-speakers in southern and eastern Ukraine support the strikers, while Ukrainian-speakers in western Ukraine oppose it. The strike began in the coal-mining Donbas region and spread throughout eastern Ukraine. The goals of the strikers were to improve working conditions and pay in the eastern oblasts. A compromise was struck when Kiev agreed to early elections for president and parliament, and Kiev also agreed to increase the level of subsidies for the Donbas region. The majority of the economic and industrial capacity is located in the 5 eastern oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya. The "most Russian" of the oblasts are Donetsk and Luhansk which make up the Donbas region.
Feb 1994 Representatives of the coal mining collectives in the Donbas region threaten a hunger strike over the failure of the government in Kiev to pay them since December of 1993. Kravchuk placates the protesters by vowing to formulate a program and way out of the problem. The problem is not isolated to eastern Ukraine only, but the situation is more tense given the ethnic breakdown and importance of the region economically for Ukraine. In general, ethnic Russians in the Donbas region are becoming more assertive for their "ethnic rights." Many Russian leaders complain that 70 to 80% of the revenues from the heavy industry in eastern Ukraine are allocated by Kiev, but little of that makes its way back into the eastern oblasts. They charge that the eastern oblasts are barely able to maintain their social programs as a result. They have begun to call for more political and economic autonomy from Kiev and closer economic ties to Russia and the CIS. There are also growing complaints concerning the increased use of Ukrainian in schools and the media as Russian (and, in general, Russian-speaking) parents claim their children are now at a disadvantage on entrance exams (due to the language laws designating Ukrainian as the only state language).
Mar 27, 1994 The early parliamentary elections are held. Voting is irregular and many urban areas have very low turnout. Most seats remain unresolved as Ukrainian election laws require at least 50% voter turnout for valid elections and winners must receive an absolute majority of all ballots cast. In the continuing elections to fill parliament, the Communist party comes out as the largest party and the electoral bloc of Communists, Agrarians and Socialists form a majority coalition, electing the Communist Party head, Moroz as Speaker. By January of 1995, the three-party Leftist bloc holds 173 deputies with 34 independents. Non-communist parties control 193 deputies (Ruhk with 27 and IBR with 34). The Leftist bloc supports generally closer ties with Russia (the Communists support reintegration of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia as a new Slavic federation). Eastern and far southern Ukraine is the main base of support for the Communists, with some considerable support coming from the central oblasts (Moroz garnered nearly 20% of the vote throughout the central oblasts). Both Leftist and pro-Russian parties call for raising Russian to the status of a state language along side Ukrainian, allowing dual citizenship, open borders between Russia and eastern Ukraine for economic ties, and regional autonomy for the Donbas region.
Apr 13, 1994 UN and CSCE election observers question the fairness of the ongoing parliamentary elections in Ukraine. There are reports of rural voters being pressured, questionable objectivity of the electoral commission, and instances of access to polling stations being denied to foreign observers.
Apr 15, 1994 Kravchuk and Yeltsin sign an agreement on the fleet dispute. The agreement calls for the fleet's division with Ukraine getting 15-20% of the ships. It also is to set up separate Russian and Ukrainian bases. The Russian-Ukrainian talks over the fleet later break down with no final agreement signed.
Jul 1994 In the first round of presidential elections, Kravchuk places first with 37.7% of the vote, Kuchma comes in second with 31.2% and the Communist Party candidate, Moroz comes in third with 13.1%. Kravchuk is to face Kuchma in the run-off election. As expected, Kuchma won 47% of the vote in the eastern oblasts, 53.5% in the southern oblasts, and did very poorly throughout the rest of the country. Kravchuk did poorly in the south and east, while winning 78% of the vote in the western oblasts. In the maneuvering preceding the run-off, Kravchuk makes overtures to the Russian minority.
Jul 19, 1994 Leonid Kuchma is sworn in as president of Ukraine. He won the election with 52.14% of the vote. Kravchuk did well in western Ukraine with 87.4% of the vote, while Kuchma did well in eastern and southern Ukraine (75.6% and 72.5% respectively). Kuchma also won the central oblasts east of the Dneiper River (with 65.9%) and Kravchuk won those central oblasts west of the Dneiper River (with 59.7%). There is growing fear that ultra-nationalists in western Ukraine will become more active now with the inauguration of a pro-Russian president.
Aug 6, 1994 Kuchma issues two decrees which place the government under his direct control and subordinates all local and regional councils to his authority. This move is not challenged by the parliament which has ten days to do so (otherwise the decrees become law).
Sep 1994 Ukrainian parliament passes a new language law which establishes Ukrainian as the "state language" and other languages may be established by local oblasts as "official languages." The state language must be learned by all citizens.
Nov 2, 1994 The council in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine votes to establish Russian as the official language for the oblast. A referendum held in the oblast in March, polled 90% in favor of giving Russian official status. Russians (who live mainly in urban areas) and "cosmopolitan" Ukrainians almost universally speak Russian in eastern Ukraine.
Nov 7, 1994 Celebrations are held commemorating the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution throughout Ukraine including Kiev and Odessa. The turnout in Kiev drew several thousand demonstrators. Nationalists held counter-demonstrations and had to be separated from the communists by police. In Lviv, a restaurant frequented by communists was vandalized by nationalists.
Nov 28, 1994 Russia takes steps at unilaterally instituting dual citizenship for Russians in all CIS states. Ukrainians fear this will add to the influence Russia holds over Ukraine.
Jan 1995 In a survey taken by the International Sociological Institute in Kiev, 64% of Ukrainians still support Ukrainian independence. The survey from the previous year reported only 56% in support. The Communist Party is reported to be collecting signatures in eastern Ukraine in support of a referendum on re-establishment of the Soviet Union.
Mar 1995 The Ukrainian parliament rescinded Crimea's constitution and abolished the post of Crimean President. Unrest continued through May as a result of these moves. The move is supported by Mejlis leaders. Reports have indicated that presumably Kiev will recognize the Mejlis as the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people, a move which Crimean authorities have refused to do and which likely will rile the NMCT.
Apr 19, 1995 Russian Foreign Minister Kazyrev warned that Russian is prepared to use force to protect the rights of ethnic Russians living in the former Soviet republics. He noted that Russian could use a range of diplomatic, political and economic means to protect such Russians, adding that Moscow would not exclude the use of force. He insisted he was staking out a moderate position and warned against extremists who might appeal to nationalism in upcoming elections.
Jan 15, 1997 Leaders of the Russian community of Crimea held a press conference to draw attention to what they say is a policy of "language aggression" aimed at "driving out the Russian language in Ukraine." Last Fall, the Ukrainian president gave instructions to the government and heads of local administrations to intensify control over the putting into effect of the language policy, to draft a new edition of the lay on language, to work out privileges for the publication and circulation of materials in Ukrainian and to issue licenses only to those TV companies which broadcast mostly in Ukrainian. The press conference organizers claimed the president violated the Ukrainian constitution which guarantees the free development, use and protection of Russian and other languages of national minorities. They also sent a message to the Russian government suggesting it "examine the problem of the language rights of the Russian population of Ukraine and Crimea, the situation of Russians and Russian Culture in Ukraine and especially in the regions traditionally inhabited by Russians and discuss a possibility of rendering assistance for the purpose of preserving Russian culture, as well as the Russian language and information space."
Mar 20, 1997 An announcement that the U.S. and Ukraine would participate in joint naval exercises this summer brought a protest from Russia. The outcry over the planned exercise was traced to an early scenario drawn up by the Ukraine in which a separatist revolt by and unnamed "ethnically based party" is threatening the integrity of Ukraine. The separatists in the scenario are backed by an "unnamed neighboring country." The unnamed party was interpreted by Moscow to be Crimean Russians and the unnamed neighboring country Russia itself. The U.S. rejected this scenario outright. A previous joint exercise (July 1995) went of without controversy.
Mar 25, 1997 The Donetsk Province Council legalized the use of the Russian language on an equal footing with Ukrainian as the language of education, science, culture, official paperwork and relations among institutions and enterprises. The resolution also required local councils to give Russian the status of an official state language. Ukraine's President Kuchma had said repeatedly that Ukraine has only one state language - Ukrainian. (Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 4/23/97)
Apr 9, 1997 The head of Russia's upper house of parliament suggested that Ukraine join the planned union of Russia and Belarus, saying "Those Slav states should form the core of integration in the CIS." (British Broadcasting Corporation 4/11/97)
Apr 10, 1997 During Ukrainian hearings on the freedom of the media, the Ukrainian Information Ministry said that in 1996 the number of books published in the Ukrainian language was 2.3 times less than were published in 1970. Of the 70 private radio stations in Ukraine, 90% broadcast in Russian. Ukrainian leaders decried the "Russification" of the media, and the freedom that allowed publishers to choose the language of their presentations. (TASS 4/10/97)
Apr 25, 1997 The head of training for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense called for a legislative agenda and budget allocations to ensure the Ukrainianization of the armed forces. At the time, a large number of commanders were still speaking Russian, despite policies to reduce the use of Russian and ensure that only Ukrainian-speakers were appointed to top posts. (British Broadcasting Corporation 4/25/97)
May 18, 1997 Unknown assailants set fire to the Russian cultural center in Lvov. No casualties were reported, but the damage was estimated at 1,000 hrivnas (550 dollars). A pro- Russian party, the Citizens' Congress of Ukraine blamed the attack on "Ukrainian national extremists," and demanded the creation of a special parliamentary commission to investigate the incident. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 5/19/97)
May 27, 1997 The Russian Prime Minister reacted with concern to a proposed new Ukrainian language law which he said would "limit and force out" the Russian language from intellectual life. He claimed that Russians and Russian speakers were denied their rights and subjected to arbitrary use of power, and that employment or residency permits were denied to those who had not begun the naturalization process. (TASS 5/27/97)
May 31, 1997 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed a treaty of friendship, cooperation and partnership, between the two countries, promising to respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, not violate the present borders, nor interfere in each other's internal affairs. The treaty marked the first time Russia had formally recognized Ukraine's independence, and was decried by some Russian politicians as formally giving up hope of protecting Russians or the Russian language in Ukraine. (Xinhua 5/31/97 and The Independent [London] 5/30/97)
Jun 5, 1997 More than 50 Russian parents whose children attend school 107 in Donetsk protested the director's decision to teach in Ukrainian because most of the area's few schools did not teach in the Russian language. The Russian community felt pressure from several organizations who had supported the switch including the local Ukrainian Language Society which calls itself Prosvita (enlightenment), as well as the party Ukrainian Civil Congress and the public organizations Donbass' Movement and All-Ukrainian Workers' Union. (TASS 6/5/7)
Jun 11, 1997 Kiev denied entry to a Russian legislator who had been invited to Stavropol to attend an event by the commander of the Black Sea fleet, prompting subsequent protests by the Russian government. (TASS 6/24/97)
Jun 20, 1997 The Donetsk regional council decreed the lawful status of Russian as the official language in Donetsk. A March, 1989 regional poll found that 89 per cent of respondents wanted Russian to be the region's working language and 67 percent had Russian as their mother tongue. A more recent poll by the Donetsk Analytical Centre showed that 90 percent embraced the regional council's decree on the Russian language. The Russian language made a comeback in Lugansk and Kharkov, and the administration of Kherson was preparing a decree of the official status of Russian. (TASS 6/20/97)
Jun 27, 1997 The Ukrainian National Assembly and Ukrainian National Self-Defense groups publicly trampled, tore, and burnt the flags of the Russian Federation, Poland, and Romania as a denunciation of the territorial claims each had against Ukraine on the seventh anniversary of its independence. Russia and Ukraine both formally protested the action on July 3. (British Broadcasting Corporation 7/5/97)
Jul 11, 1997 Delegates of Ukraine's Russian communities and culture leagues met the Ukrainian parliament's nationalities and human rights commission. According to reports, the number of Russian schools in Kiev had been reduced seven times in the past six years, leaving no Russian-language schools in some neighborhoods, while initiatives to open schools in other areas were barred by Ukrainian education officials. The parties agreed that Ukraine's national policy was an offensive on Ukraine's ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers, who made up about 60 per cent of the population. (TASS 7/12/97)
Oct 7, 1997 A new Ukrainian national party, Soyuz, founded in Crimea, launched an election campaign with a program for the protection of the Russian language and culture, the integration of the Slavonic republics, and the development of regional self-government in Ukraine. The Soyuz congress received congratulatory telegrams not only from leaders of Crimea, but also Moscow's Mayor and other Russian politicians. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/9/97)
Oct 18, 1997 The Sotsis-Gallop organization released a poll that said 32 per cent of Ukrainians firmly believed that Russian should be made the second official language in Ukraine, while 15 per cent said that they "rather support" the idea. Twenty per cent stated their firm opposition to any change in the status of Russian, 11 per cent could agree to the change, 14 per cent were partly against and partly in favor of the idea, and 8 per cent had no opinion. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/18/97)
Nov 12, 1997 The district court of the Voroshilov District of Donetsk, ruled on the appeal of Vladimir Krivobok, former public prosecutor of the region, who tried, when still holding that post, to declare illegal and cancel the resolution "On the functioning of the Russian language on the territory of the region," which Donetsk regional council had adopted in March (see chronology for 3/25/97). Krivobok had protested, but was in the midst of transferring to another job in another area. The court upheld his motion. (TASS 11/12/97)
Dec 22, 1997 Ukraine's parliament decided not to review the 1989 law on languages, although the parliamentary speaker emphasized that the reduction of Russian language classes in Ukrainian schools to optional lessons was in violation of Ukrainian law. (TASS 12/22/97)
Feb 4, 1998 Approximately 200 Donetsk residents picketed the Donetsk Regional Administration building in protest against measures to promote the development and use of Ukrainian in the region. The picket was organized by the Regional committee of the Socialist Party of Ukraine and supported by the Civic Congress of Ukraine, the "Chernobyl sufferers," an organization called "those who fought in Afghanistan," miners and veterans. They claimed that the measures would "squeeze out the Russian language by force from all areas of public activity, including the press, radio, television, education and preschool education." (British Broadcasting Corporation 2/5/98)
Feb 19, 1998 President Leonid Kuchma refuted allegations about restrictions on Russian- language publications, saying practically all formerly Soviet publications could be found in Ukraine, and that there were no restrictions on Russian-language publications at any state level. (TASS 2/20/98)
Feb 24, 1998 Surveys conducted by the Kiev Center of Political Research and Conflict Resolution revealed that 31% of all inhabitants of Ukraine considered themselves to some extent to be Russian: including 11.5% who claimed to be Russian, 5% - more Russian than Ukrainian, and 14.5% - equally Russian and Ukrainian. The surveys also indicated that 55% of all inhabitants of Ukraine preferred Russian as their everyday language, despite the fact that only nine Russian-language schools remained in Kiev at the time. (What The Papers Say 2/24/98) Russian newspapers were blocked at the Ukraine border for several weeks. Ukrainian officials claimed the newspapers had not paid their customs duties, but later, the newspapers claimed they were being asked to pay a surcharge for the circulation of Russian material in Ukraine, which they refused. Many, especially in the Russian media, saw the move as political, especially since it came on the eve of the parliamentary elections. (Soviet Press Digest 3/12/98)
Mar 5, 1998 A Sotsis-Gallup poll sponsored by the Democratic Initiatives Fund revealed that 57 percent of voters would back a parliamentary candidate political party or bloc that advocated Ukraine's admission to the Russia-Byelorussia Union. The poll included members of various segments of the population from various regions. In addition, 44 percent of respondents favored granting the Russian language second state language status, while nearly 35 percent advocated "iron order" in the country, meaning authoritarian power. (TASS 3/5/98)
Mar 29, 1998 The Communists won 84 of 225 seats voted under the party list system in the 450-seat parliament. The nationalist Rukh Party won 32 seats, the Green Party -- 19, the Peoples' Democratic Party -- 17, Gromada association -- 16 and the Progressive Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party (United) -- 14 seats each, under the party list system. The Communists won another 39 seats in the first-past-the-post constituencies, which made them the biggest single party faction with the aggregate of 123 seats. Turnout reached 70% in some places. (TASS 4/1/98 and British Broadcasting Corporation 3/30/98)
Jun 15, 1998 Information Minister Kulik reiterated that the government could not use legal means or financial means to prohibit information companies from using other languages to transmit information in Ukraine, since there were no legal restrictions on the use of languages other than Ukrainian. (British Broadcasting Corporation 6/19/98)
Aug 24, 1998 Left-wing Ukrainian opposition activists staged a meeting in Donetsk to protest the proclamation of Ukrainian independence in 1991. The meeting was attended by members of the Slavonic Party, Communists, Socialists, World War Two veterans, participants in the Afghanistan campaign, and rescuers who had worked in the contaminated area of the Chernobyl power plant which exploded in 1986. They dubbed as a "historic mistake" the proclamation of independence and called on the government and people to revoke the decision, give up independence, and seek union with Russia and Byelorussia. (TASS 8/24/98)
Oct 2, 1998 Kiev's Russian community picketed near the city's administration building in honor of the Day of the Teacher to demand an end to Russian school and class closures. They also demanded that the "rabid Russophobes" responsible for the policies be fired. Only five percent of schools in Kiev used Russian, despite the fact that 20% of the Kiev population was Russian, and no Russian kindergartens were left. The group had staged seven earlier protests. (TASS 10/2/98)
Oct 6, 1998 All Ukrainian cable channels stopped broadcasting ORT Russian Public Television at the request of the Ukrainian Independent Television Broadcasting Corporation (UITBC), which was established with the help of ORT. UITBC had exclusive rights to broadcast ORT in Ukraine; other channels were not authorized to show the programs. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/7/98)
Oct 7, 1998 About 1,000 people staged a protest march in downtown Kiev, which was organized by the All-Ukrainian Workers' Union, the Communist Party of Ukraine and the Kiev city branch of the Socialist Party of Ukraine. The marchers put forward the following slogans: Down with the rule of parasites - we welcome the rule of the people! Down with Kuchma! Soviet power for the working people! Yes to the union of the three Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian nations! (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/9/98)
Oct 21, 1998 The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the vandalization of the tombs of Soviet World War II soldiers in Lvov. The Russians claimed anti-Russian slogans had been smeared on the tombs and the bronze letters removed, a charge that the Lvov authorities denied. (TASS 10/21/98)
Jan 28, 1999 The Russian Communities Congress of Ukraine was formally registered in the Republic. The association became the first to include all organizations and movements for the protection of ethnic Russian interests in Ukraine. (TASS 1/28/99)
Feb 8, 1999 About 50 ethnic groups--including Russians, Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, Jews and Romany (Gypsies)--from eight regions of western Ukraine formed a confederation to increase ethnic group influence on local authorities. The confederation cited instances of discrimination, including the prevention of minority political candidates from holding office and the reduction of ethnic language schools. (British Broadcasting Corporation 2/9/99)
Feb 17, 1999 The Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian parliament, ratified the Russian-Ukrainian friendship treaty signed by Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma on May 31, 1997. Protests followed by Russians who felt several issues, including the status of Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine, should have been resolved prior to the agreement. (Interfax 2/17/99 and TASS 2/18/99)
Mar 14, 1999 The Regional Rebirth Party of Ukraine announced it would enter into active cooperation with the all-Ukrainian union Zlahoda (Accord) to gain official language status for the Russian language in Ukraine and to facilitate cooperation with CIS member-states, especially Russia and Belarus. (British Broadcasting Corporation 3/17/99)
Mar 22, 1999 The Russian human rights commissioner, Oleg Mironov, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Nina Karpacheva, signed a treaty in Moscow agreeing that the sides would help restore the violated rights of Russian and Ukrainian citizens on their territories.
Jun 8, 1999 A member of the Central Electoral Commission charged the Supreme Court of Ukraine with violating his rights by denying him the opportunity to testify in Russian. (British Broadcasting Corporation 6/9/99)
Jul 17, 1999 In a press conference, President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine should have only Ukrainian as its state language, but that the Russian language was not oppressed in the Republic. "I am categorically opposed to pressing Russian or Ukrainian. But people will understand that they live in Ukraine and must know the Ukrainian language,"he said. (TASS 7/17/99)
Aug 30, 1999 On live Ukrainian television, President Leonid Kuchma again advocated the importance of the state Ukrainian language as well as Russian. Kuchma advocated compulsory Ukrainian lessons in Russian schools, as well as the teaching of Russian and other foreign languages in Ukrainian schools. Kuchma also said that he opposed autonomy for Tatars within Crimea because it would affect the balance between ethnic groups in the area. The Tatars were assumed to be the dominant ethnic group within the Crimea after about 270,000 Crimean Tatars had returned to Ukraine in the course of a few years. (British Broadcasting Corporation 8/31/99 & 9/1/99)
Sep 15, 1999 During a visit to Ukraine, OSCE Commissioner for national minorities Max van der Stoel said he felt the Russian minority in Ukraine did not encounter any problems in daily life. (British Broadcasting Corporation 9/16/99)
Jan 5, 2000 The Ukrainian Parliament formally ratified the European Charter on Local Languages and the Languages of Minorities, which Ukraine had signed when it joined the Council of Europe in 1995. The Charter guaranteed the right of Russian speakers to use Russian in public life in all areas of Ukraine where a minimum of 20% of the population spoke Russian. Russian groups claimed that all of Ukraine met the 20% requirement. However on December 14, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine recognized Ukrainian as the only "compulsory means of communication for officials of the local government bodies and local self-government structures while discharging their duties and in all the public spheres of social life, as well as in clerical work," in accordance with Article 10 of the Constitution. The ruling meant that all public officials, including police officers and teachers, could only use Ukrainian while on duty, and that inadequate knowledge of Ukrainian could be grounds for the dismissal of public workers. (TASS 1/5/00 and Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 1/19/00)
Feb 15, 2000 Following public criticism by Russia of the absence of Russian language facilities in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry released the following data. There were 2,399 state-run schools with instruction in Russian. More than 2.1 million pupils, or almost 32 percent, were taught in Russian and almost 280,000 children attended Russian-language study and education groups in 17,600 pre-schools. Ukraine also had 14 state-run Russian theaters and 1,195 Russian-language newspapers, which constituted almost 50 per cent of all periodicals published in Ukraine. (British Broadcasting Corporation 2/15/00)
Feb 16, 2000 Dmitry Bulgakov, a Russian living in Crimea, filed a case in international court claiming that the government had Ukrainized his name on his passport. He said while Tatars and other ethnic groups in Ukraine retained their names on government documents, the names of Russian speakers were regularly Ukrainized, and that his previous appeals in district and Crimean courts had not restored his identity. (TASS 2/16/00)
Feb 26, 2000 The Soyuz (Union) party and several other organizations called a conference on human rights and languages in which they criticized Ukrainian authorities for carrying out a policy aimed at forcing the Russian language out of the country. Delegates to the conference cited examples of language discrimination and mass violations of the right of people to speak their native language. (TASS 2/26/00)
Feb 28, 2000 250 members of the Slavonic Party meeting in Donetsk formally filed a petition calling for an all-Ukraine referendum to give the Russian language official status in Ukraine. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Monitoring Committee later rejected the proposal, saying its organization was ambiguous and that it conflicted with the legal provisions required to modify Ukraine's basic law. (TASS 2/28/00 and Interfax 3/13/00)
Mar 9, 2000 Seventeen political parties and organizations in Lvov staged rallies and pickets in front of the mayor's office and the regional administration in honor of the 186th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, whom they regarded as a symbol of independent Ukraine. They also demanded closure of the monthly Russian-language newspaper, a ban on activities of the Russian movement, withdrawal of all books in the Russian language from city libraries, and even a ban on broadcasting songs in Russian. (TASS 3/9/00) In Kiev, eleven members of the Independent Ukraine youth organization "Camoctiina Ukraina" took over the Communist Party Central Committee building to demand that Ukraine drop out of the CIS, remove the Russian fleet from Sevastopol, and cease education in Russian, among other things. (Interfax 3/10/00)
Apr 11, 2000 The governor of Lvov Region decreed the suspension of the only regional radio station broadcasting in Russian. The governor did so on the grounds that it violated article 9 of the Ukrainian law on television and radio broadcasting, which required these media broadcast in the state language. The city had been wracked by protests organized by eight political parties against the "Russification" of Lvov for several days preceding the suspension. The day after the suspension, unidentified protestors broke the windows of the city's Russian cultural center. Though the courts later ruled the suspension illegal, the station remained closed for months. (British Broadcasting Corporation 4/11/00, 4/12/00 & 5/28/00)
May 8, 2000 A fight in a cafe between a Ukrainian composer, an officer and a businessman--which left the composer in intensive care--sparked several weeks of protests against the Russification of Lvov. (TASS 5/23/00)
Jun 13, 2000 A Lvov legislator proposed a bill "On Audioecology" which would have banned Russian language music from stores and cafes. The bill was motivated in part by the death on May 20th of the Ukrainian composer injured in the May 8 fight. The Lvov city council approved a similar measure in a special session on June 15th, becoming the first Ukrainian city to do so. (Moscow Times 6/13/00 and British Broadcasting Corporation 6/15/00)
Jun 21, 2000 The Russian Movement in Ukraine appealed to OSCE National Minorities Chair Max van der Stoel to help them during the wave of anti-Russian sentiment in Western Ukraine. Van der Stoel visited Lvov, which the Russian movement claimed was on the brink of an ethnic war. (TASS 6/21/00)
Jun 27, 2000 Two public organizations advocated the restriction of Russian-language education to only those students that asked for it in writing and for the taxation of Russian language publications, with the proceeds to benefit the development of the Ukrainian language. (TASS 6/27/00)
Jun 28, 2000 The Donbass Internationalist Movement and the Slavonic Party held a demonstration in Donetsk on the anniversary of the Ukraine constitution to protest against the infringement of the rights of the Russian-speakers in the area. They pointed to the arming of Ukrainian and formerly Nazi groups and the destruction of cafes holding Russian performances as reasons for concern. (TASS 6/28/00)
Jul 5, 2000 A parliamentary debate in the town of Zaporizhzhya on the suggestion that the town keep records in both Ukrainian and Russian ended without resolution after both legislators and protestors were unable to reach a resolution. The opposing sides were branded "Muscovite invaders" and "Lvov fascists." (British Broadcasting Corporation 7/5/00)
Jul 14, 2000 The Constitutional Court of Ukraine decided that the law "On the Ratification of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages 1992" was unconstitutional, based on irregularities in the way it was ratified and approved. (Interfax 7/14/00)
Jul 15, 2000 To aid in the enforcement of Lvov's Russian music ban (variously translated as the Law on Aural Environment Audio Pollution), over 90 people joined "Lvov Ukrainization Units," which placed stickers saying "Muscovite poison! Caution - Russified!" on Russian-language establishments. The law went into effect on July 13. (British Broadcasting Corporation 7/19/00)
Jul 25, 2000 The State Committee for Information Policy, TV and Radio Broadcasts began drafting a policy to ban TV and radio broadcasts that humiliated Ukrainian national dignity, in particular forbidding the use of a hybrid language of Russian and Ukrainian in broadcasts. (British Broadcasting Corporation 7/25/00)
Apr 15, 2004 Ukraine announced that all national television and radio broadcasts are required to be done in Ukrainian. (Radio Free Europe. 4/16/2004. "Ukraine: Kyiv Imposes Controversial Ban On Russian-Language".)
Nov 2004 During the 2004 election campaign between Russian-backed Ukrainian prime minister, Yanukovich, and pro-Western Yushchenko, pro-Yanukovich supporters stormed an election site, beating voters to get to the polls, and pouring acid onto the ballots so they could not be counted. (Telegraph, 11/29/2004, "Revealed: The true story of ukrainian election fraud")
Jan 9 - 9, 2005 After Yanukovych's (the pro-Russian candidate) loss in the 2004 presidential elections, Russians in Eastern Ukraine announce they would hold a referendum to gain limited autonomy. Russians hope to alter the constitution to obtain the title of "self-governing constituent within a federation". (Mite, Valentinas. 2004. "Ukraine: Election Crisis Highlights Difference In Attitudes Between East." Global Security.)
Jan 1 - Jun 1, 2006 Local councils in heavily populated Russian areas have enacted policies that place Russian on equal footing with Ukrainian. (RIA Novosti, 6/02/2006, "Ukraine leader to ask court to ban local Russian-language status")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010