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UKRAINE

Legislation

Law of Ukraine on the Development and Use of Languages in Ukraine

In accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, this law identifies the general principles of language policy in Ukraine, legal and organizational basis for development and use of state language as well as languages of national minorities in Ukraine and rights of citizens to use their native language.

This law does not regulate the use of languages for private communication.

CHAPTER 1.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Article 1. (Basic terms used in this law)

Basic terms in this law have been used in the following meanings:

  • State Language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, which is the language of the ethnic majority in Ukraine and is compulsory for use in all areas of social life throughout the whole territory of the country;
  • Languages of national minorities are the languages of groups of citizens in Ukraine whose nationality is not Ukrainian and, in accordance with the legislation, they have the status of national minorities of Ukraine;
  • Language policy of Ukraine is the policy of the state aimed at securing adequate conditions for the all-round development and functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language in all areas of social life throughout the whole territory of the country, and guaranteeing free development and use of languages of national minorities in Ukraine;

    Standard form of state language implies the language variants of exemplary use

    (in pronunciation, word usage, grammar and other linguistic means), which are consolidated through practice, approved by the Ukrainian orthography and relevant normative documents and fulfil their social function in the most effective way;

  • Languages for international communication are the world's most widespread, and consolidated in international law, official and working languages of the United Nations.

Article 2. (State language of Ukraine)

  1. Ukrainian shall be the state language of Ukraine. It is a major means of communication in all areas of social life throughout the whole territory of the country.
  2. State language is compulsory for use by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, in their day-to-day operations.
  3. Executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, shall create all the indispensable conditions for citizens of Ukraine to use state language.
  4. The only form of state language that can be used in all areas of social life shall be its standard form. When using state language any departure from its standard form is inadmissible.

Article 3. (Languages of national minorities of Ukraine)

  1. The state shall guarantee free development, use and protection of Russian and the other languages of national minorities in Ukraine.
  2. Languages of national minorities in Ukraine shall be used in cultural and educational areas as well as in some other areas specified in this law.
  3. According to the Constitution of the Autonomous republic of the Crimea, executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, in the Autonomous republic of the Crimea, can use the languages of national minorities of Ukraine parallel with state language in exercising their daily functions and issuing identification papers or documents that certificate the information about the individual.

Article 4. (Development and protection of state language and languages of national minorities of Ukraine)

  1. The state shall care about development and prestige of state language and raising of language culture of its citizens. The state shall ensure the adequate conditions for safe-keeping of literary texts of historical value, which are part of national heritage of the Ukrainian people (that is to say, citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities) and for the return into Ukraine of any such texts if they are kept outside the borders of Ukraine. The state shall secure the logistics for the functioning of state language and shall support on a priority basis those areas of science that deal with studies and academic research focused on the Ukrainian language. It shall promote academic and mass publications dedicated to the issues of the Ukrainian language, shall encourage translations into Ukrainian of reference books, teaching and methodological literature and shall resort to all other measures aimed at development of the Ukrainian language.
  2. The President and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine shall set up appropriate authorities with a view to elaborate, consolidate and implement the standards of contemporary Ukrainian language.
  3. The state shall ensure the safe-keeping of cultural assets and literary texts of historical value created by national minorities, the development, use and protection of languages of national minorities as well as training of specialists to meet their linguistic cultural and educational needs.
  4. Measures to protect and develop the languages of national minorities in Ukraine must not narrow down the areas of use of state language or reduce the need for its learning.
  5. Measures to protect and develop state language and the languages of national minorities in Ukraine are put into practice at the expense of the national budget of Ukraine, the budget of the Autonomous republic of the Crimea, regional budgets and those of the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol and from other funds in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine.
  6. It is forbidden to publicly belittle state language or languages of national minorities of Ukraine, show disrespect for them or knowingly pervert them in the texts of official documents, media, and propagate discrimination and animosity on the ground of languages.

Article 5. (Ukraine's legislation on languages)

  1. Ukraine's legislation on languages comprises the Constitution of Ukraine, the Constitution of the Autonomous republic of the Crimea, this law and other normative and legal acts that regulate relationships in the area of languages.
  2. Should an effective international treaty, signed by the government of Ukraine and ratified by the Supreme Rada, establish any rules other than those set out by Ukraine's legislation on languages, the rules laid down in the aforementioned international treaty shall prevail.

CHAPTER II.

LANGUAGE FOR USE BY EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LOCAL BODIES OF SELF-GOVERNANCE, CITIZENS' ASSOCIATIONS, INSTITUTIONS, ORGANIZATIONS AND COMPANIES OF ALL FORMS OF PROPERTY

Article 6. (Language for use by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance)

  1. The Ukrainian language shall be the language for use by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance.
  2. The language of a national minority can be used by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance in those communities, where the majority of the population are representatives of such national minority, according to the procedure specified by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
  3. Decisions passed by local public authorities and local bodies of self-governance concerning the use of state and other languages, which go in contravention of part one and two of this article, have no legal power.
  4. Laws of Ukraine and by-laws passed by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance are approved and published in state language.
  5. Laws of Ukraine and by-laws passed by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance can be translated into other languages and published in accordance with the procedure specified by the President of Ukraine.

Article 7. (Language of clerical work, documentation and record keeping)

  1. Executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, shall effect their clerical work and keep their accounting, reporting, financial, technical and other records in state language.
  2. The language of a national minority can be used in clerical work, documentation and record keeping by local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, parallel with state language in those cases, which are stipulated in paragraph two of article 6 of this law, according to the procedure specified by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
  3. In cases stipulated in paragraph two of article 6 of this law, texts of announcements, advertisements, notices and other types of information for local population are presented in state language and can be duplicated in translations into languages of relevant national minorities.
  4. Names of executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, and lettering on seals, stamps, stamp paper, official forms and posters are inscribed in state language. The stamp paper can also carry translation of the proper name into another language for reasons of external intercourse.
  5. In the Autonomous republic of the Crimea names of executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, citizens' associations, institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, and lettering on seals, stamps, stamp paper, official forms and posters can be inscribed in languages of national minorities side by side with such names in state language in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine.

Article 8. (Language used in service industries)

  1. Companies, institutions and organizations providing services to the households (in the area of communications, transportation, health care, social welfare, retail and wholesale trade, etc.) shall exercise their functions in state language.
  2. In cases stipulated in paragraph two of article 6 of this law, services can be delivered in languages of national minorities parallel with state language.

Article 9. (Demands placed on public officers and civil servants in executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, employees of public companies, institutions and organizations with respect to their proficiency in state language)

  1. Public officers and civil servants in executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, employees of public companies, institutions and organizations are obliged to be proficient in state language.
  2. Demands on proficiency and use of state language are included into the rules and regulations on attestation of the aforementioned public officers and civil servants, employees of public companies, institutions and organizations. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine specifies the extent of proficiency in state language and the stretch of time for mastering it.

Article 10. (Language used in identification papers and documents that certificate the information about the individual)

  1. Official documents that identify the individual or carry some information about such a person (i. e. passports, work-record books, servicemen's identity cards, education certificates, testimonials and diplomas, documents issued by registry offices and other official documents) as well as identification papers of foreign nationals or stateless persons, who temporarily or permanently reside in Ukraine, shall be issued in state language.
  2. Foreign travel passports of citizens of Ukraine shall be issued in state language and in one of the languages of international communication in accordance with the standard procedure.

Article 11. (Working languages of conventions, conferences, meetings and other official gatherings)

  1. State language shall be used as the working language of conventions, conferences, meetings and other official gatherings held by executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance.
  2. In cases stipulated in paragraph two of article 6 of this law, state language or the language of a relevant national minority can be used at official gatherings and at meetings of national cultural associations and their executive bodies.
  3. State and any other languages decided upon by the participants are used as working languages at international forums.
  4. Participants to international conferences, meetings and other forums held in Ukraine are guaranteed the right to choose the language of their statements. Interpretation of such statements into Ukrainian and any other working languages of the forum shall be provided for them.

Article 12. (Language of legal procedure)

  1. Legal procedure in Ukraine shall be followed in state language.
  2. During legal proceedings the persons, who are the parties to the case and have no command of state language, are ensured the right to familiarize themselves with the materials of the case and participate in court procedure through an interpreter. They can speak in court, submit pleadings and bring out evidence of proof in writing in their mother tongue, and obtain, on demand, investigation materials and court documents in translation into their language without incurring any extra costs.
  3. Materials of the case in arbitration proceedings, executed according to the standard procedure, are referred to judicial authorities of another country in translation into the language of that country or any other language acceptable for both parties.

Article 13. (Language in administrative judicial proceedings)

  1. Administrative judicial proceedings in Ukraine shall be executed in state language.
  2. Should the person charged with administrative offence have no command of state language, he or she can speak in court, submit documents and bring out evidence of proof in writing in one's mother tongue or any other language using the services of an interpreter and without incurring any extra costs.

Article 14. (Language of notary's office work)

  1. Notary's office work shall be executed in state language

Article 15. (Language of legal aid)

  1. Legal aid to juridical and physical persons in Ukraine shall be provided in state language.
  2. Legal aid to foreign nationals, stateless persons and legal entities of foreign countries can be provided in a language acceptable to both parties.

Article 16. (Language of pre-trial investigation, inquest and in public prosecutions)

  1. State language shall be used in Ukraine for holding pre-trial investigation, inquest and in public prosecutions.

Article 17. (Language of international treaties to which Ukraine is a party)

  1. In international treaties, to which Ukraine is a party, state language and the language of another party (parties) shall be used, unless otherwise is stipulated by the international treaty itself.

CHAPTER III.

LANGUAGE OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND CULTURE

Article 18. (Language of education and upbringing)

  1. The state shall ensure the right of citizens of Ukraine to gain education in state language.
  2. Ukrainian is used as language of education and upbringing in pre-school, general education, vocational and higher educational establishments, whether public or private. This rule does not apply to foreign nationals and stateless persons invited to engage in teaching and education process in educational establishments of Ukraine.
  3. Learning state language in all educational establishments is compulsory.
  4. Citizens who belong to national minorities have the right to be taught in their native language or to study their mother tongue. Proceeding, from its possibilities, the state creates appropriate conditions within the framework of its education system and promotes the emergence of educational establishments of different levels for teaching the language of a relevant minority or for providing education in that language. It is all funded from local budgets and other sources, including donations, providing that the education offered by such educational establishments meets the standards, which have been set out and approved by competent education authorities.
  5. In cases stipulated in paragraph two of article 6 of this law and if the number of individuals belonging to a national minority is sufficient enough, the language of upbringing in pre-school establishments and/or the language of instruction in general education schools can be the language of a relevant national minority parallel with state language.
  6. The state encourages the citizens of Ukraine to study languages of international communication.
  7. Specially authorized central education authorities specify both the procedure and format of learning Ukrainian for those individuals, who have arrived from other countries to gain education in Ukraine or to continue with their studies there.

Article 19. (Graduation and entrance examinations to assess proficiency in Ukrainian)

  1. Citizens of Ukraine, who graduate from general education secondary and vocational schools or compete for admission to higher educational establishments, shall take an examination for proficiency in Ukrainian.
  2. Graduates from secondary schools competing for admission to higher educational establishments, which train specialists on a national level shall take an entrance examination in the language of their national minority and in state language according to state education standards.
  3. To obtain a state standard higher education diploma, citizens of Ukraine shall take a state examination for proficiency in Ukrainian in compliance with the curriculum designed by an authorized central education authority according to state education standards.
  4. Requirements. stipulated in paragraph 1 and 2 of this article, also apply to foreign nationals and stateless persons if they join higher educational establishments of Ukraine, except for some special cases provided for by international treaties to which Ukraine is a party.

Article 20. (Language in the field of science)

  1. Results of research and development works in Ukraine shall be documented and published in state language. The same principle is followed in publishing academic books.
  2. In academic editions, published in Ukrainian, abstracts of research results can be set out in other languages as well.
  3. In academic editions, which are published in Ukraine in other languages, abstracts of research results must also be set out in Ukrainian.
  4. Aspirants for academic degrees must execute typography of their scientific works and present them for public defense in state language.
  5. Information technologies in Ukraine are operated in state language and software is provided in the Ukrainian version.

Article 21. (Language in culture and sports)

  1. The state shall guarantee the functioning of Ukrainian and languages of national minorities in culture and sports and sponsors Ukrainian book-publishing business, cinema and theatre, show business, promotes audio-visual products in the Ukrainian language as well as translations of literary, political, scientific and other works into Ukrainian. Cultural events, athletic competitions and games are commented in state language.
  2. Functions carried out by national minorities as well as performances by foreign artists and public announcements of such events can be made in languages of national minorities parallel to state language.
  3. During public presentations of audiovisual works the text in a foreign language must be interpreted and have a simultaneous soundtrack or subtitles in state language.
  4. The aforementioned demands that are stipulated in paragraph 3 of this article are not applicable in those cases when such events are held for teaching purposes.

CHAPTER IV.

LANGUAGE OF MASS MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION

Article 22. (Language of mass media and book-publishing business)

  1. Public radio and television broadcasts as well as publication of newspapers and magazines, which are sponsored by public authorities and local bodies of self-governance, shall be delivered in state language.
  2. The total volume of information presented in the Ukrainian language on non-public radio and television channels must make up at least 70 per cent of the overall volume of broadcasting time, which is stipulated when issuing a broadcasting license.
  3. The state shall create favourable conditions for the issue of newspapers and magazines and for publishing books in Ukrainian.
  4. To meet cultural needs of citizens belonging to national minorities and in response to the wish expressed by public organizations that represent them, some radio and television time can be allotted for broadcasting programmes in languages of national minorities, and appropriate conditions are created for the issue of newspapers, magazines and other periodicals in such languages too.
  5. With a view to consolidate the position of state language in the Ukrainian media, the importation of audio-visual products and printed matter into Ukraine is subject to regulation by relevant public authorities.

Article 23. (Language in the area of communications)

  1. State language shall be used in the area of communications.
  2. Postal, telephone and telegraph offices shall process postal deliveries, accept telegrams and requests for long-distance and international telephone calls from legal entities and individuals in state language or, should it be necessary, in other languages as well. If the address is written in another language, it should be duplicated in Ukrainian parallel with it.
  3. International postal deliveries are executed in accordance with the procedure specified by international agreements, to which Ukraine is a party.
  4. Postal, telephone and telegraph offices shall be stocked with all necessary forms and stamp products in state language.

Article 24. (Language of advertising)

  1. Publicity commercials, promotional messages and any other forms of audio-visual advertising products shall be delivered in state language.
  2. In pieces of advertising presented by foreign companies a company's name in the original language can be put side by side with the name of that company transliterated or translated into Ukrainian and is normally placed to the right of the Ukrainian name or below it and in smaller-sized print.
  3. In cases stipulated in paragraph 2 of article 6 of this law, publicity commercials, promotional messages or any other audio-visual advertising products can also carry, side by side with the text in state language, a translation into the language of a national minority in smaller-sized print.

Article 25. (Language in labelling of products)

  1. Labelling of products, tags and directions for use of products manufactured in Ukraine shall be executed in state language.
  2. Labelling of products intended for exports can be executed in other languages side by side with state language.
  3. Certificates, labels and information about the quality of such products and directions for their use must accompany imported products and be printed in state language.
  4. Names in trademarks owned by legal entities incorporated in Ukraine are presented in state language.

CHAPTER V.

LANGUAGE IN THE ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE

Article 26. (Language in the Armed Forces and other military formations established under the legislation of Ukraine)

  1. State language shall be used in service regulations, clerical work, accounting, reporting and technical documentation, education and character formation work, command and order procedures as well as in all other forms of statutory communication in all units of the Armed Forces and other military formations established under the legislation of Ukraine.
  2. Proficiency in state language of servicemen and employees in the Armed Forces and other military formations of Ukraine (except for those in military service for a regular term) is taken into consideration at the time of their attestation.

CHAPTER VI.

LANGUAGE USED IN PROPER NAMES

Article 27. (Language used in place names and cartographic editions)

  1. Place names, i.e. geographic names and names of administrative and territorial divisions, railway stations, streets, squares, etc., are created and presented in state language and are followed by their equivalents in Latin letters, should there be such a need.
  2. In localities. where the majority of population belongs to a national minority, a place name in state language can be followed by its equivalent in the language of that national minority. A place name in the language of a national minority is normally placed under a place name in Ukrainian and is executed in a smaller-sized format.
  3. Ukrainian place names are rendered in other languages in accordance with standard rules.
  4. Standard rules for rendering Ukrainian place names in other languages are set by an authority responsible for supervision over the observance of standards in the Ukrainian language.
  5. Place names from outside Ukraine are spelled according to standard rules of state language.
  6. Cartographic editions intended for use in Ukraine are prepared and published in state language.

Article 28. (Language of proper names of Ukraine's citizens)

  1. Citizens of Ukraine have the right to be given names in accordance with national traditions.
  2. Family names, Christian names and patronymics are spelled according to the rules of Ukrainian orthography. Every citizen of Ukraine has the right to have a mistaken spelling of his or her name officially corrected.
  3. Family names, Christian names and patronymics in other languages are rendered in accordance with standard rules.
  4. Standard rules for rendering family names, Christian names and patronymics in other languages are set by an authority responsible for supervision over the observance of standards in the Ukrainian language.

CHAPTER VII.

HELPING ETHNIC UKRAINIANS OUTSIDE UKRAINE TO MEET THEIR LINGUISTIC NEEDS

Following its commitments stemming from international agreements Ukraine provides assistance to ethnic Ukrainians in foreign countries aimed at meeting their needs in the Ukrainian language and helping them preserve and promote their linguistic identity.

CHAPTER VIII.

LOGISTICAL SUPPORT FOR PUTTING THIS LAW INTO PRACTICE

  1. Executive government agencies and local bodies of self-governance, chief executives of institutions, organizations and companies, whether public or private, shall be responsible, within their competence, for logistical support and enactment of this law.
  2. Supervision over the observance of this law is exercised in accordance with the procedure specified by the legislation of Ukraine.

CHAPTER IX.

LIABILITY FOR VIOLATION OF THE UKRAINIAN LEGISLATION ON LANGUAGES

Article 31. (Types of violation of the Ukrainian legislation on languages)

  1. The following shall be considered as violation of the Ukrainian legislation on languages:

    • Failure to use state language in those cases when its mandatory use has been stipulated by the Ukrainian legislation on languages; Publicly degrading state language or languages of national minorities of Ukraine showing disrespect for them or knowingly perverting them, and calling on discrimination and animosity on the ground of languages;
    • Failure to provide translation from state language or into it in those cases when it is stipulated by the Ukrainian legislation on languages;
    • Deliberately deviating from standard form of state language, failure to observe the procedure for use of other languages parallel with state language in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation on languages;
    • Refusal to make an official correction in the mistaken spelling of a family name, Christian name or patronymic in state language.

Article 32. (Liability for violation of the Ukrainian legislation on languages)

  1. Any person guilty of violation of the Ukrainian legislation on languages bears disciplinary, administrative and/or criminal liability according to the effective legislation of Ukraine.
  2. 70% of the amount of cash, which is collected from fines charged for violation of the Ukrainian legislation on languages, is transferred to the central budget of Ukraine, while the rest of the amount goes to the account of an authority empowered to impose such sanctions. The size of a fine, the procedure for charging it and the use of the collected cash are specified by the relevant legislation of Ukraine.

CHAPTER X.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

  1. The law of Ukraine "On development and use of languages in Ukraine" shall enter into effect on the day of its official publication.
  2. The following time-limits are set for a stage-by-stage enactment of specific articles of this law into all areas of social life:

    • Paragraph I of article 8, paragraph I of article 20, paragraph 2 of article 21, paragraph 2 of article 22 and article 26 shall be enacted within one or two years from the moment of this law coming into force;
    • Paragraph 2 of article 18, paragraph 2 of article 19 and paragraph 5 of article 20 shall be enacted within two or three years from the moment of this law coming into force;
  3. The following pieces of legislation shall have no more legal power:

    • The law of the Ukrainian SSR "On languages in the Ukrainian SSR" (News bulletin of the Supreme Rada of the Ukrainian SSR, 1989, No.45, page 63 1);
    • Resolution of the Supreme Rada of the Ukrainian SSR of October 28, 1989, No.8313 "On the procedure for enactment of the law of the Ukrainian SSR "On languages in the Ukrainian SSR" (News bulletin of the Supreme Rada of the Ukrainian SSR, 1989, No.45, page 63 1)";
    • Item 7 of the law of Ukraine "On changes and amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine on protection of intellectual property" (News bulletin of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, 1995, No. 13, page 85).

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