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Ukraine targets kindergartens with Russian names

Nurseries could be forced to alter their signs amid a ‘de-Russification’ campaign by Kiev

Pre-schools in Ukraine that have Russian names must be brought in line with national language standards, government official Taras Kremen has demanded.

Kremen, who is Ukraine’s language ombudsman, said he was outraged to discover during a random inspection of children’s educational institutions that some still bear Russian names such as ‘Solnyshko’ (sun) and ‘Odyvanchik’ (dandelion).

“We frequently get complaints about the names of preschool educational institutions that are Russian-language in their nature, do not correspond to the standards of the state language, and some simply lack common sense,” Kremen wrote on Facebook.

The official urged local authorities and the owners of private kindergartens to ensure that all names meet state language requirements.

The authorities in Ukraine have been progressively tightening the screws on the use of Russian in the country since 2014. Kiev has adopted laws making the use of Ukrainian obligatory in almost all spheres of public life, including in government, medicine, science, education, and the media. Failure to comply can result in fines.

Ukraine historically has a large Russian-speaking population, particularly in its eastern regions. As of 2022, about 23% of people in Ukraine spoke Russian at home, according to local sociologists.

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Last October, Kremen called on local authorities to remove advertisements and signs in Russian, and demanded that TV channels end any use of the language in their shows. Broadcasts of Russian channels were officially suspended in Ukraine in 2014.

Kiev has doubled down on its de-Russification efforts since the start of Moscow’s military campaign against its neighbor in 2022. Top officials have called for the complete removal of the Russian language nationwide, branding it “an element of hostile propaganda and brainwashing of the population.”

Lawmakers have since imposed blanket bans on Russian-language works of art, performances, films, songs, and books, and have outlawed the study of Russian in schools and universities. Moscow has repeatedly denounced Kiev’s crackdown on Russian culture and language, insisting that “forced Ukrainization” violates international law and infringes upon the rights of native Russian speakers.

March 21, 2024 at 12:46PM

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