On June 13–14, Dr. Mykola Riabchuk, a Principal Research Fellow of the Department of Political Culture and Ideology of our Institute, took part in a two-day international conference “Language Ideologies in the Successor States of the USSR – Soviet Legacies and New Developments” at the University of Giessen.

In his presentation, titled “«Language of Our Defenders»: (De)legitimization of Russian During the War”, he defined the language situation in Ukraine as still quite ambiguous, resulting from both the ambivalent character of Ukrainian post-Soviet society and from ambiguous policies of all the subsequent governments.

Mykola Ryabchuk reports

The 2014 Russian invasion and, especially, the all-out war launched in 2022 did not put an end to that ambivalence, though substantially limited its scope and scale. While the protracted struggle between the “Ukrainophone” and “Rusophone” ideologies in Ukraine seems to be won by the former, the so called “centrist” ideology that downplays the significance of language issue and effectively supports the postcolonial status-quo, still enjoys popularity in Ukrainian society and may successfully compete with the “Ukrainophone” ideology in the future. Russian language, ostracized and delegitimized in public usage as the language of the aggressor state, is re-legitimized, paradoxically, in private usage as a “language of our defenders”, i.e. language of thousands of Russian-speaking patriots of Ukraine who defend their country from Russian aggression. As long as the public and private spheres are clearly separated and the official use of Ukrainian is strictly observed, the “peaceful co-existence” of two language looks possible, even though some tension might be unavoidable.

Mykola Ryabchuk among the conference participants

The conference program