Урок в україномовному класі загальноосвітньої школи № 4 м. Бахчисарай перед окупацією Криму (2013/2014 навчальний рік), Після окупації Криму у цій школі, як і більшості інших шкіл регіону, україномовні класи були закриті. Фото А. Ковальського

Crimean Linguocide


Linguocide (from the Latin lingua – language and cide – murder) – the deliberate destruction of language as a defining feature of the ethnos – nationality, nation.

On April 19, 2017, the UN International Court of Justice issued an order in the case of Ukraine v. The Russian Federation on the application of interim measures, according to which Russia was to ensure access to education in the Ukrainian language in the temporarily occupied Crimea. To understand why the issue of language was one of the first international documents, it is necessary to consider certain aspects that formed such a decision.

Language as the quintessence

The driving force of the national is the spirit, and the existence of the spirit is language.

Wilhelm Humboldt

Any aggressor, planning the occupation and annexation of territories, has practically two plans – direct action to capture the territory and action to maintain this territory. If the plans for the occupation envisage mostly military action, then it is economic, political, ideological and others. In particular, plans for the language issue.

The question of language has always been not just important, but archival. Language is one of the main carriers of national identity. This has been understood since ancient times. Even in the VIII century. the caliphs banned the Coptic language, which led to its practical extinction. A similar policy was pursued by the British during Cromwell’s time in Ireland. The Russian Empire did not stay aside, trying to destroy Finnish, Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian and other languages. And especially the Russian emperors fought with the Ukrainian language. What are the decrees of Peter I (1720), Valuev’s circular (1863) and Ems decree (1876) and others. This “tradition” was continued by the Soviet Union, and it was not without reason that the communist dictator Joseph Stalin, who wrote a special work, Marxism and the Issues of Linguistics, drew attention to the language. And the policy of Russification in the Ukrainian lands covered all areas.

Not “grazing the rear” and the Russian Federation. Since Ukraine’s independence, Russia’s linguistic expansion on the Crimean peninsula has not stopped for a moment; but also sabotaged the development of the Ukrainian language on the peninsula.

However, according to the 2001 All-Ukrainian Census, 24.4% of the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and 22.1% of the population of Sevastopol called themselves Ukrainians. However, opposition to the Ukrainian language only spread – in 2004 the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea approved a program for the development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea for 2004-2010. Since 2010, the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have virtually stopped activities to promote and support the functioning of the Ukrainian language. In Sevastopol, “go further” – on August 16, 2012, the Sevastopol City Council granted Russian the status of a regional language.

After the occupation of the peninsula in 2014, the Russian Federation stopped camouflage and began active persecution of the Ukrainian language. Currently, the linguistic suicide of the Ukrainian language is practically taking place in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

In the first months after the Russian invasion of Crimea, the Ukrainian language was pushed out of all spheres of public life – the Ukrainian-language media stopped working, books in Ukrainian were removed and destroyed from libraries, and the language disappeared from communication. There was a “cleansing” of the language space, from which the Ukrainian language was forcibly removed. For example, on March 7, 2014 in Sevastopol the use of the Ukrainian language in official records was banned, and in the first half of 2014 on the territory of the Crimean Peninsula signs in Ukrainian were dismantled at public authorities, schools, cultural institutions.

Language issue in education

Nations do not die of heart attacks. First, he takes away their language.

Lina Kostenko

The occupiers paid special attention to the language issue in the field of education. The issue of education has always been one of the most important in the state, especially in the totalitarian one. Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the communist Soviet Union worked hard to create the “necessary” education system that formed the “right citizen.” In the British Empire, the use of the Welsh language in schools in Wales was banned, and German policy even led to protests (the Vzhesna school boycott). The oppression of the Ukrainian language in education began in the days of the Moscow state, Tsar Mikhail was ordered by Moscow Patriarch Filaret to burn in the state all copies of the “Teacher’s Gospel” published in Ukraine by Kirill Stavrovetsky, Russian emperors banned the Ukrainian language in schools, and the notorious Valuev circular forbade the printing of educational books. The Soviet state continued its anti-Ukrainian policy, gradually displacing the Ukrainian language from all spheres of life, including education.

The Russian Federation did not stay aside, creating a “necessary” system of education, investing in its content an ideological component. For example, a few years before the occupation, she actively formed the idea of ​​”Russian (Russian) territories”, especially in school education.

In preparation for the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea, the occupiers’ meticulous attention was focused on the education system, as in 2014, more than 191,000 students studied in 586 Crimean secondary schools, and about 35,000 children in 74 Sevastopol schools. Out of the total number, only 7 secondary schools taught in Ukrainian, and another 76 – in Ukrainian and Russian. A total of 829 classes with Ukrainian as the language of instruction operated in the ARC. In Sevastopol there was only one school with Ukrainian as the language of instruction and 9 schools where teaching was in Ukrainian and Russian. At the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year in Sevastopol there were 50 classes with Ukrainian as the language of instruction, in which 994 (3%) students studied. In addition, in 2013 in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea 1760 children (2.9% of the total number) were educated in Ukrainian in 3 preschool educational institutions. There was only one Ukrainian kindergarten in Sevastopol, which educated 690 children (4.8%). And this without institutions of higher and secondary vocational education.

The beginning of the de-Ukrainization of education in the occupied Crimea

From the beginning was the Word.

Old Testament

From the very beginning of the occupation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation, the educational sphere ran along a separate line. After all, it was in educational institutions that the so-called “referendum” was held, it was the youth who took an active part in the peaceful opposition to the annexation. Thus, in the year of occupation, graduates of the Sevastopol gymnasium № 5 them. Lesya Ukrainka came to the last bell in embroidered shirts, and in Yalta (Crimea) graduates sang the anthem of Ukraine to the music of the Russian anthem, which was turned on by the management of the school.

The urgency and preparedness of the occupiers is evidenced by the speed of decision-making at the federal level in the field of education. Already on April 25, 2014 the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopts the Federal Law of 05.05.2014 № 84-FZ “On the peculiarities of the legal regulation of relations in the field of education in connection with the admission to the Russian Federation of the Republic of Crimea and the formation of new entities – the Republic of Crimea and cities of federal significance of Sevastopol and on amendments to the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation”, which was approved by the Federation Council on April 29 and signed by President Vladimir Putin on May 5, 2014.

The education management system has hardly changed and most of the officials have remained in their places (however, later the management was replaced by people from Russia).

Although the so-called Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, adopted on April 11, proclaimed the possibility of using three languages ​​- Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar (“Article 10.1. The state languages ​​of the Republic of Crimea are Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar. Article 19.2. Everyone has the right to use of the native language, free choice of language of communication, education, training and creativity “). From the very beginning of the occupation, the “squeezing” of the Ukrainian language from the sphere of education began. The end of the academic year 2013-2014 took place under the pressure of occupation ideology and hatred of Ukrainian, which was supported even by physical threats. This led to the forced departure of most pro-Ukrainian Crimeans, many of whom were teachers.

At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, there were almost “dots over and over” to ensure the possibility of teaching in the Ukrainian language in the temporarily occupied Crimea. All Crimean education has been put “on the rails” of Russian educational standards. Already in May 2014, the so-called “Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of the Republic of Crimea” announced the retraining of teachers of Ukrainian language and literature, and in the summer 276 teachers were sent to 10-month retraining courses in “Russian language and literature”.

In June, the so-called “Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of the Republic of Crimea” sent a letter to educational institutions “On the choice of language of instruction”, in which, on the one hand, stressed the right to choose the language of instruction, and on the other – noted: “Teaching and learning state languages ​​of the Republic of Crimea should not be carried out to the detriment of teaching and studying the state language of the Russian Federation. ”

Also in accordance with paragraph 4 of Art. 14 of the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation”: “4. Citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to receive preschool, primary general and basic general education in their native language from among the languages ​​of the peoples of the Russian Federation ”and item 2. of Art. 11 of the Law of the so-called “Republic of Crimea” of July 6, 2015 № 131-SAM / 2015 “On education in the Republic of Crimea”: “2. Citizens of the Russian Federation residing in the territory of the Republic of Crimea have the right to receive preschool, primary general, basic general education in their native language, including Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, as well as the right to study their native language within the education system. opportunities, in the manner prescribed by the legislation on education “, ie education in the native language is possible only in grades 1-9, and in grades 10-11 education is only in Russian.

And on September 1, 2014-2015 school year, there was a significant reduction in the number of students studying in the Ukrainian language from 12,867 to 1,990 people. Ukrainian was studied as a subject in 142 classes, classes with Ukrainian language of instruction were in 20 schools, and out of seven schools with Ukrainian language of instruction, only one remained (school № 20 in Feodosia).

In addition, the Tavriya National University. Vernadsky (Simferopol) liquidated the Faculty of Ukrainian Philology. And in the State Program for the Development of Education and Science in the Republic of Crimea for 2015-2017, adopted at the end of 2014, not a single word was devoted to the issue of obtaining education in the Ukrainian language.

Hatred for the Ukrainian language has reached its extreme. So, in one of the schools of the Simferopol district textbooks and books in the Ukrainian language were thrown out and forced students to tear them.

The situation with the Ukrainian language in educational institutions of the temporarily occupied Crimea and the city of Sevastopol at the beginning of 2022

The boundaries of my language mean the boundaries of my world.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Unfortunately, the Ukrainian state has not been able to create a system of analysis of the educational field on the occupied peninsula. Information is collected and summarized sporadically. Public organizations systematically monitor the situation in education in the occupied Crimea. Thus, in 2021, the Center for Civic Education “Almenda” conducted a thorough study of the situation in the educational field of the temporarily occupied Crimea[1], including language issues[2].

Thus, during the years of occupation, the number of male and female students studying in the Ukrainian language in educational institutions of the temporarily occupied Crimea has catastrophically decreased from 12,867 to 212 children. According to the so-called “Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of Crimea”, in the 2020-2021 academic year, 218,974 students studied in secondary schools of the temporarily occupied Crimea, of which 0.09% or 206 students (152 students) study in Ukrainian. at the school № 20 in Feodosia and 52 students at the Simferopol Academic Gymnasium), and another 3,780 students study the Ukrainian language in depth, optional, in extracurricular activities. And 93 more children (0.1%) study in Ukrainian in preschool educational institutions of the occupied Crimea.


Academic years 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022
Number of students studying in Ukrainian 12 867 1 990 949 371 318 249 206 214 212
Percentage of students studying in Ukrainian 7,3% 1,2% 0,5% 0,2% 0,2% 0,12% 0,09% 0,097% 0,094%


Moreover, the occupying country resorted to manipulation, pointing out that thousands of Crimean men and women study the Ukrainian language “as a subject, in-depth, optional, in extracurricular activities,” because it is almost impossible to check the system of study, especially the organization of extracurricular activities. However, even in these statistics there is a decrease, so in the 2020-2021 school year the occupiers reported that the Ukrainian language is studied by 4,155 male and female students, and in the 2021-2022 school year there were already 3,780 (a decrease of 11%).

Also, according to the occupation department of education and science of Sevastopol, in the 2020-2021 academic year, out of 48,748 students of occupied Sevastopol, 0.1% (70 students) study the Ukrainian language in 5 secondary schools.

The fictitiousness of teaching in the Ukrainian language is also shown by the methodological support. Thus, in 2015, indicative programs were developed: “Ukrainian language”, “Ukrainian literature”, both native and non-native, for preschool and secondary organizations, which were approved by the decision of the Federal Educational and Methodological Association for General Education of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (Minutes № 2/15 of 20.05.2015). However, the programs themselves are developed only in Russian. In addition, they have not been updated since.

Also, the Instructional-methodical letter “On the formation of curricula of general education organizations of the Republic of Crimea, implementing basic educational programs for the 2021/2022 academic year” indicates that, despite teaching and declaring education in Ukrainian, in the temporarily occupied Crimea all forms of final certifications in Russian: «1.25. Subject areas “Native language and literary reading in the native language”, “Native language and native literature” are implemented in the educational space of the Russian Federation in the following formats: subjects “Native language” and “Literary reading in the native language” / “Native literature” in native teaching language with preservation of all forms of final certification in the state Russian language.

Another striking example of farce is the provision of textbooks. After all, how can you teach in Ukrainian or Ukrainian language and literature without textbooks? During the years of occupation, as many as 7 textbooks were published, and those only for primary school and only in the Ukrainian language and literature. And for high school – no textbook. And the content of textbooks does not withstand any criticism, it came to the point that the occupying power was even forced to withdraw some textbooks because of discriminatory texts.

One more. Proclaiming the equality of languages ​​of instruction on the peninsula, the occupiers and collaborators misled everyone from the beginning, because mother tongue education, according to Russian law, is possible at the level of preschool, primary general and basic general education (Article 14, paragraph 4 of the RF Law ” About education “), ie only in grades 1-9, and at the level of secondary general education (grades 10-11) education is conducted in Russian. This provision was duplicated in Art. 11.2 of the Occupation Law № 131-SAM / 2015 of 06.06. 2015 “On education in the Republic of Crimea”.

We also have another fake page about Ukrainian education in the occupied Crimea – this is the only Crimean Ukrainian-language school № 20 in Feodosia. During all the years of occupation, this school is presented as an institution where Ukrainian is taught, but an analysis of the school’s website alone refutes this assertion: the site is entirely in Russian, Ukrainian subjects are taught only up to 9th grade, and then in Russian. sports direction. In addition, the institution itself is located not even in the city of Feodosia, but in the village of Primorskoe, which is 14 km from Feodosia with a population of just over 12 thousand.

Russia has done everything to make the language disappear in Crimea

The language, taken as a system, is dumb.

Elias Canetti

Summing up, it should be noted that after the occupation, Russia did everything possible to make the Ukrainian language disappear from the occupied peninsula, first of all, from education. Although under pressure from the international community, the most striking example of which is the decision of the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague of April 19, 2017 on the practical return of the Ukrainian language to education, Russia is creating “Potemkin villages”, or more precisely, “Potemkin schools”.

Thus, in the temporarily occupied Crimea there are formal features for teaching the Ukrainian language: programs for studying the Ukrainian language and literature have been developed, optional courses have been created, there are a number of textbooks (for primary school), teachers are available and there is a system of training and retraining.

However, in reality there are no opportunities for learning the Ukrainian language in educational institutions of the occupied Crimea:

– textbooks are available only for primary school;

– the number of children learning Ukrainian is less than one tenth of a percent, and the declared number of children learning Ukrainian in extracurricular activities cannot be verified;

– even in educational institutions where education is conducted in Ukrainian, in high school subjects are taught only in Russian;

– despite the study of the Ukrainian language, certifications are made only in Russian.

And finally

In 2020, the Russian Federation began various propaganda campaigns related to the “spread of the Ukrainian language”, such as the resumption of Ukrainian language teaching in Sevastopol or the appeal of an initiative group from Simferopol to Russian President Vladimir Putin to revive the Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol and Ukrainian schools. throughout the peninsula – all this is nothing but an enchantment, which is aimed mainly at the international community.

Oleg OKHREDKO, expert of the Center for Civic Education “Almenda”


[1] Analytical report “Assessment of the implementation of the state policy on the implementation of the right to education for children from the temporarily occupied Crimea” – Access mode: https://almenda.org/analitichnij-zvit-ocinka-implementaci%d1%97-derzhavno%d1%97-politiki-realizaci%d1%97-prava-na-osvitu-dlya-ditej-z-timchasovo-okupovanogo-krimu/

[2] Monitoring the state of realization of the right to education and educational needs of the inhabitants of the occupied Crimea. June 2021. – Access mode: https://almenda.org/monitoring-stanu-realizaci%d1%97-prava-na-osvitu-ta-osvitnix-potreb-meshkanciv-okupovanogo-krimu-2/


Implemented within the project “Information Platform” Voice of Crimea. Culture “- about Crimea honestly, qualitatively, actually” with the support of the Media Development Fund of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the US government.

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