Review of pro-Russian narratives concerning "discrimination" of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine in the media outlets of Germany and Italy

Review of pro-Russian narratives concerning “discrimination” of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine in the media outlets of Germany and Italy

Photo: / microgen
6 April 2022

Russian propaganda is actively promoting the narrative that “Russians are being discriminated in Ukraine” in Germany and Italy. Within the framework of this narrative, the following fakes are spread: they write that the Russian language is oppressed in Ukraine, and discrimination against Russians and the Russian-speaking population is widespread in the country in general, and Ukraine’s European choice automatically means anti-Russian sentiment. Of course, “neo-Nazism in Ukraine”, which allegedly thrives along with anti-Russian sentiments, was not overlooked. We explain what is really happening and why all the above narratives are lies.

Fake: Russian language is being suppressed in Ukraine

Russian and pro-Russian media, such as Russia Today (Germany) or Heise (Germany), claim that the language law is directed exclusively against the Russian-speaking population, and the use of Russian in public is completely banned. The media point out that the language law allegedly presupposes fines if the language of communication in restaurants, entertainment venues, or, for example, shopping malls is not Ukrainian.

  • “Language laws are openly directed against Russian speakers and the use of Russian” (“Die Sprachgesetze richten sich explizit gegen russische Muttersprachler und die Verwendung des Russischen.”) – RT.D E
  • “The language laws that make Ukrainian the only legal language have been expanded. From January, the Ukrainian language is mandatory in public places, i. e. when shopping, in restaurants and bars, in recreation facilities and in all other service facilities. Violations will be punished by fines. These requirements are in themselves discriminatory. But they are becoming even more discriminatory, as the law applies throughout the country, including in the east, where Russian is the most widely spoken language. (Die Anwendung der Sprachgesetze, die das Ukrainische in den Stand der einzig zulässigen Sprache heben, wurde ausgeweitet. Seit Januar ist im öffentlichen Raum, das heißt beim Einkaufen, in Restaurants und Bars, in Freizeitanlagen und allen weiteren privatwirtschaftlichen Einrichtungen mit Kundenverkehr die Verwendung der ukrainischen Sprache verpflichtend vorgeschrieben. Verstöße dagegen werden mit Geldbußen geahndet. Das ist schon für sich diskriminierend. Es wird aber noch ein Stückchen diskriminierender, denn das Gesetz gilt landesweit, also auch im Osten, in dem überwiegend Russisch gesprochen wird. ). DE
  • “How does this reconcile with equal rights for all Ukrainians, if according to the law on language introduced on January 16, 2021, only Ukrainian can be spoken in the service sector, although Russian predominates in a large part of Ukraine – also in Kyiv?” . _ Heise

What is the truth?

The Law on Language stipulates that Ukrainian should become the major language in public communication. The norm of the “language law” on service sector in the Ukrainian language caused the most criticism and fakes. However, Russian and pro-Russian media ignore that the law provides the opportunity to serve customers in other languages at their request. For example, if it is convenient for a client, a salesman, a waiter, a hairdresser or any other representative of the service sector to communicate not in Ukrainian but in Russian or another language, the law allows it.

In addition, the law regulates only the public sphere, the provisions of the law do not regulate the use of language in everyday life. Therefore, the total ban on Russian is just a fabrication of propagandists.

Penalties for breaking the law, which are reported in the media, are the last and most severe sanction. It is introduced only after several stages of warnings. The imposition of a fine requires: (1) the first recorded complaint; (2) the second recorded complaint during the year; (3) a decision of the language ombudsman’s office on a fine that the business owner can challenge in court.

We refuted more fakes about the “language law” in the article “More fakes than the truth: what they say about the law of language.”

Fake: Russians are discriminated in Ukraine

Pro-Russian and Russian resources in Germany and Italy accuse Ukraine of depriving Russians and Russian-speaking people of their basic rights in Ukraine. Such publications refer to the law on indigenous peoples. They say he discriminates against Russians, and international organizations ignore violations of Russian rights in Ukraine.

  • “The persecution of the Russian language continues, and the most fanatical Ukrainian politicians are proposing to deprive Russian-speaking citizens of their basic rights.” (“La persecuzione della lingua russa continua e i politici ucraini più fanatizzati propongono di privare i cittadini di lingua russa dei diritti elementari.”.)  . Counterinformation
  • “So far, the OSCE and other organizations have not reacted to the discriminatory bill on Ukraine’s indigenous peoples, as Europe does not want to offend Kyiv.” (“Es habe bislang keine Reaktion seitens der OSZE und anderer Organisationen auf den diskriminierenden Gesetzentwurf über die indigenen Völker der Ukraine gegeben, da Europa Kiew lieber nicht beleidigen wolle.”)  SNA.DE

How is it really?

The law on indigenous peoples, like the law on language, is perhaps the most discredited on pro-Russian resources. At the same time, it is commented just in the Russian narrative.

According to the definition in the law, indigenous people are “ autochthonous ethnic community formed on the territory of Ukraine, bearer of original language and culture, having traditional, social, cultural or representative bodies, have the self-awareness of the indigenous people of Ukraine, constitute the ethnic minority in its population and does not have its own state entity outside Ukraine ”. Among the indigenous peoples are those peoples who were formed on the territory of Crimea – the Crimean Tatars, Karaites, and so on.

Russians cannot be the indigenous people of Ukraine: they have their own state formation outside our country. However, this does not mean that they will be deprived of basic rights in the state.

Fake: Ukraine’s pro-European choice means anti-Russian choice

Russian propaganda equates Ukraine’s pro-European choice with anti-Russian. Russia Today propagandists compare Ukraine’s move to the European Union with anti-Russian, nationalist and militant choices.

  • “If pro-European means anti-Russian, nationalist and militant, the Ukrainian people have obviously voted for Europe and for peace .” (Wenn pro-europäisch das Gleiche wie anti-russisch, nationalistisch und kriegslüsternd bedeutet, dann hat die ukrainische Bevölkerung klar für Europa und den Frieden gestimmt)- RT.DE

What is the truth?

Ukraine has enshrined its desire to become the part of the European community in the Constitution and is developing in this direction. However, it does not mean that Ukraine automatically pursues anti-Russian or nationalist policies. Russia started the war in Donbass in 2014 and annexed the Ukrainian Crimea, so the reasons for anti-Russian sentiment and the impossibility of cooperation at the state level are quite clear and justified. Ukraine has not chosen or pursued a militant and hostile policy towards Russia, we are defending our interests and sovereignty.

Fake: Anti-Russian neo-Nazism is flourishing in Ukraine

Pro-Russian media in Germany and Italy claim that anti-Russian neo-Nazism is actively flourishing in Ukraine. It is written that the “coup d’etat” in Kyiv in 2013 was organized by neo-Nazis who promote anti-Russian sentiment.

  • “Hidden behind this parallel story are the Baltic countries, Poland and Ukraine, who pour out hatred on Russia. Today, the Baltic countries and Ukraine remember the Nazi collaborators as national heroes and glorify their cowardly deeds. ” – SNA.IT
  • “Why did Maidan take place in 2013 and 2014 and not earlier? the political scientist asks. “Pro-American and pro-Nazi fringe groups in Ukraine have tried to stage demonstrative anti-Russian riots before,” Kamkin said. “Because over the 30 years of Ukraine’s independence, it was possible to form a generation that, so to speak, has no historical ties with the former united country and actually grew up as Maidan orphans. The coup d’état in Kyiv was carried out by these “nationalists without a nation”. A younger generation has grown up, who have been brainwashed almost out of their cribs by the newly minted operators of the so-called Ukrainian culture. ” – SNA.DE

What is the truth?

In 2013, Ukrainian students protested against President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. Gradually, the protests escalated into a Revolution of Dignity, after which Ukraine began a process of reform and focused on joining the European community. Anti-Russian sentiment among the population is caused by the war that Russia started against Ukraine in 2014 and the annexation of Crimea. There are nationalist political forces in Ukraine, as in many other countries. However, Ukrainian society does not support nationalist political forces or neo-Nazism.


The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations