Ukraine’s authorities are intentionally watering down the level of secondary education throughout the country in order to cut back emigration, a leading expert from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Oleg Nemensky, said on Thursday when commenting on Kiev’s discriminatory educational legislation.
"The adopted law on education will drastically worsen the level of education in Ukraine," said Nemensky, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"It envisages a slump in the level of secondary education, the number of compulsory subjects would be more than halved and disciplines are to be merged which will certainly prevent Ukrainian pupils from having a sufficient level of knowledge to enter higher educational institutions in Europe or Russia," he said.
The expert believes that such a move by Kiev can be explained as an attempt to keep the population inside the country and cut back emigration. He also stressed that the adopted law is aimed at "total ethnocide, depriving Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population of all cultural and ethnic rights," which is advantageous for Kiev and also for Europe.
"The West is ready to put up with this violation of the rights of the Russian-speaking population as long as the process of de-Russification continues," he said. "In fact, the law on education will be implemented only with regards to the Russian-speaking regions, it won’t be put into practice for the Hungarian population in the Trans-Carpathian region and the Romanian population of Bucovina. The European Union has already confirmed that it is ready to accept these conditions," he said.
Although the law was met with indignation in Hungary, and "Hungarian diplomacy will now be standing entirely in the way of any international initiatives by Ukraine towards its European integration, Nementsky believes Kiev has nothing to lose from this. "No serious prospects of integration with Europe are being discussed, Hungary will be blocking any process that has already been stalled or has no prospects," he pointed out.
Reaction from Europe and Russia
On September 25, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a new law on education. According to the legislation, starting from 2018, instruction in the languages of ethnic minorities will remain only in elementary schools, while all educational instruction in secondary schools and in colleges and universities will be exclusively in Ukrainian.
Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece and Moldova have voiced concerns over the new law. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis canceled his visit to Ukraine scheduled for October. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest would block any step in the EU that could lead to Ukraine advancing towards European integration.
Ukraine’s law on education undercuts legal norms of a multiethnic state and the international reaction to it should be tough and instantaneous, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Tuesday.
"No doubt, this [law] is an outrageous act of disrespect for the reality of today’s world," he said. "Apart from encroaching on Ukraine’s international obligations, it humiliates the people of many nationalities who live there."
Kiev is conscientiously violating the foundations of a multiethnic state and whipping up neo-Nazi sentiments, Karasin continued.
Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, adopted a statement on Wednesday calling on the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and international parliamentary organizations of Europe to provide an unbiased assessment of Ukraine’s education law. On the same day, the State Duma (lower house of parliament) passed a statement on the inadmissibility of violating the right of indigenous people and national minorities living in Ukraine to study in their native languages.