Language Law Enacted in Ukraine

Language Law Enacted in Ukraine

On July 16, Law No. 2704-VIII “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language” came into force.

The law establishes the status of the only state language is the Ukrainian language. Citizens of Ukraine, as well as persons applying for Ukrainian citizenship, are required to speak the state language, the level of which will be determined by the National Commission for Standards of the State Language.

From July 16, 2021, the level of proficiency in the state language of certain categories of persons (in particular, prosecutors, judges, members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Military Police, civil servants, heads of educational institutions) will be certified by the state certificate of proficiency in the state language. The certificate will be issued by the afore-mentioned National Commission (except for persons occupying the above positions before the specified date).

The national commission on standards of the state language will develop and approve the classification of proficiency levels of the state language, taking into account the recommendations of the Council of Europe on language education.

In courts, legal proceedings and court case management are carried out in the state language. In the lawsuit, other than the state language may be used in the manner determined by the procedural codes and the Law “On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges”. The text of the court decision should be drawn up taking into account the standards of the state language.

The language of the educational process in educational institutions is the official state language, and starting from July 16, 2020, all scientific publications will be published in the official language, in English and/or other official languages of the EU.

Also, from July 16, 2021, cultural, artistic, entertainment and spectacular events should be held in the Ukrainian language. The use of other languages during such events is permitted if justified by the artistic and creative intent of the event organizer. The Ukrainian language is also defined as a language for tourist and excursion services.

The use of the Ukrainian language as compulsory for the print media of the national and regional spheres of distribution will become mandatory 2.5 years later; for local distribution print media, the period is 5 years later. The printed media will be allowed to issue in other than the state languages on condition that simultaneously with the corresponding circulation of the publication in a foreign language, the circulation of the publication in the state language will be published.

Starting from July 16, 2022, the rule for Internet offices (including websites, web pages in social networks) of state authorities, local governments, enterprises, institutions and organizations of state and municipal ownership, the media, registered in Ukraine, will come into force, as well as for business entities selling goods and services in Ukraine and registered in Ukraine, to perform in the Ukrainian language. Along with the version of Internet representations in the Ukrainian language, versions in other languages are allowed. The version in Ukrainian should be at least as foreign language versions in volume and content of information and be loaded by default for users in Ukraine.

The provision of the Ukrainian language in the technical and project documentation will work from July 16, 2020. At the same time, the Ukrainian language will be mandatory in advertising. It should be the language of advertising on television and radio services.

The language in the field of health care, medical treatment and medical services is the state language. However, at the request of a person applied for medical care or medical care services, his personal care may also be provided in another language acceptable by the parties. And from July 16, 2020, the provision for health institutions to draw up applicant’s health status in the state language will become effective.

The position of the Commissioner for the protection of the state language is introduced. After six months from the date of appointment, the Commissioner will receive provisions on his consideration of complaints, state control over the use of the state language, as well as on the procedure for imposing fines on business entities for violating the law regarding the use of the state language in consumer services

The final provisions provide for administrative liability for violation of the Law. However, the introduction of this rule is postponed for three years in order to give citizens enough time to master Ukrainian at the proper level.