rogerannis at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 30 17:22:35 MST 2014
The article on conditions in
Crimea that was recently published in the Washington Post and then posted to
this mail list has also appeared in the Toronto Star, Canada's largest
circulation daily newspaper, yesterday. The article is an occasion to catch up
on information about Crimea. I am in the process of writing a reply to it, in
collaboration with an editor in Ukraine. In the meantime, let me say a
couple of things.
The article is quite superficial. Few overall statistics or information on
Crimea is provided. Most of its source material is from several unhappy
residents of the territory. That is typical of mainstream media. A major
article appeared in yesterday's Globe and Mail and it employs this tactic as
well--speaking to several disgruntled people and then generalizing to the
entire subject (in the Globe's case, to the hundreds of thousands of people who
have fled to Russia from eastern Ukraine). (I will also be replying to the
The Wa Post article contains important inaccuracies. While it may be true that no fully
Ukrainian-language schools exist in Crimea (I am attempting to verify that
information), it is certainly not true that Ukrainian is no longer a language
of instruction. Parents have a right to choose the language of instruction of
their children, including in Tatar, though subject to numbers. In April, Putin affirmed
Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar as the three official languages of the territory.
Russian is the required language of high school; I don't know, exactly, the extent
to which second language instruction also takes place.
The Post article is inaccurate re
passports. Holders of Ukrainian passports are not required to renounce it in
order to obtain a Russian passport. Indeed, many residents of Crimea are keeping
their connections to Ukraine in order to access services there additional to
what is available under the new authority.
The only residents of Crimea permitted
entry to Ukraine are those holding Ukraine-issued documents. No foreigner is
permitted entry because the territory of Crimea is not recognized by Ukraine as
an ‘international’ entity with which it shares border and customs facilities.
Let’s turn the accusations around.
What were the conditions of Crimean residents before the events of this year?
Cultural and political assimilation of Tatars. Poor conditions of public education--only an estimated five per cent
of Tatar children speak the language, according to one report I read, by an American. Ukraine’s constitution does not recognize
a Tatar nationality. And so on. That's not to apologize for whatever is going on today, it is to bring some objectivity to the study that is needed, instead of knee-jerk anti-Russia prejudice.
Poroshenko has recently announced
that multilingual Ukraine will become an officially unilingual country. In
other words, the controversial measure to that effect that was proposed then withdrawn
last March is now back on the order paper. I’ve not seen any international
outcry about it, incluidng articles in the Wa Post. As well, Poroshenko has mused publicly of
making English, instead of Russian, the second language of school instruction
and government service.
As I said, these are preliminary
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