Photo from UNIAN, Viacheslav Ratynskyi

Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko says the purpose of the latest amendments to the law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language", which came into force on January 16, 2021, is to introduce a culture of communication in the state language.

In a video address posted on Facebook, Tkachenko explained that the changes primarily concern business entities, including shops, cafes, restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations, as well as online shops and catalogs.

"Information about the goods and services shall now be provided in Ukrainian, including on menus, tickets, price tags, manuals, and markings," the minister explained.

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He noted that the staff in shops shall address customers in Ukrainian. If visitors continue the conversation in another language known to the employee, both pursue in a language that is more convenient for the customer, at the latter's will.

Tkachenko stressed that fines for violating the law do not apply to private communication.

"Speaking of fines, we are talking about business entities, and only if their employees refuse to speak Ukrainian. But it is important to understand that fines as such are not the ultimate goal. Nobody has the right to impose them just like that. That's only on condition that violations have been duly recorded and a warning was issued first, which must be taken into account within a year's term," the minister explained, adding that each alleged violation will be considered separately.

Read alsoLanguage law: Applicants for civil service, citizenship to pass Ukrainian language tests in 2021As for the latest amendments to the language law, Tkachenko believes they are about respect for each other, as well as for the state.

"As citizens, you are free to continue communicating in private life in the language that's more convenient for you. It's just that from now on, having entered any institution, you will definitely hear "Vitayu!" ("hello" in Ukrainian) Let us cherish the language and respect for each other," the minister said.

Amendments to language law

  • On January 16, the norms of the law on mandating consumer services in Ukrainian language came into force.
  • According to Article 30 of Law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language", all service providers, regardless of their form of ownership, shall serve consumers and provide information about goods and services in Ukrainian.
  • However, at the request of the client, services can be rendered in another language acceptable to the parties. These requirements apply both to businesses that operate offline (for example, catering, salons, shops, etc.) and online shops.
  • The Verkhovna Rada adopted the law on April 25, 2019, laying down a phased implementation of its norms.
  • Russian propaganda has massively attacked the new law in an attempt to sow splits in Ukrainian society and agitate Russian speakers, claiming that they would be persecuted for the use of their native language in private life. Despite multiple refutations of such bizarre claims, the narrative is still being spun across pro-Russian platforms and circulated by certain commentators manipulating public opinion.