Since gaining independence, language issue has always been one of the favourite issues of politics of all levels. It remains acute even now, in the fifth year of the civil war in Donbass that followed actions of government aimed at infringement of the rights of regional entities and unwillingness to respect the opinion of inhabitants.
On May 31, 2018, Ukrainian President Poroshenko signed Decree No. 165, which introduced “urgent measures” to strengthen the status of the Ukrainian language as the “single cultural space of the country” for the next decade. Through this document he announced the beginning of a large-scale Ukrainization in the country, underlining that it introduces a decade of the Ukrainian language, not just one year. Poroshenko ordered the Cabinet of Ministers to develop a targeted program for the period from 2018 to 2028, which will provide for the maximum use of the Ukrainian language in the media, education, scientific and cultural activities, as well as in book publishing. In addition, the President of Ukraine demanded that mandatory use of the Ukrainian language by civil servants and all employees of central and local authorities be imposed.
The right to free use of languages in Ukraine is guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine and is determined by law. So Article 10 of the Constitution defines the status of the Ukrainian language as a state language, however, the same article guarantees the free development, use and protection of Russian language, as well as other languages of the national minorities in Ukraine.
In 2003, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law on the Ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, developed by the Council of Europe in 1992. It is important to note that this was not the first attempt to incorporate international norms into the legislation: Ukraine ratified the Charter in 1999 for the first time. The Law, adopted in 2003, presented the list of languages to which the provisions of the Charter should apply. Thus, it was specified that the use of Belarusian, Bulgarian, Gagauz, Greek, Hebrew, Crimean Tatar, Moldovan, German, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian languages will be guaranteed by the Ukrainian authorities at the legislative level. According to the document, the provisions of the Charter shall be applicable for each of the above-mentioned languages: in the fields of education and justice; in the activities of administrative bodies and the provision of public services; in the activities of the media; in the field of cultural activities and the means of its implementation; in economics and in social life.
However, the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine has to fight for their right to free development, use and protection of the Russian language every day. Despite the fact that in some regions of Ukraine Russian has received the status of a regional language, its usage in Donbass became one of the reasons for the outbreak of hostilities, while in other regions of the once united state became the subject of discrimination, dismissals, and persecution. Now, due to the tightening of linguistic legislation on the territory of Ukraine, many regional authorities are increasingly renouncing the regional status of the Russian language. For example, in late July, the Nikolaev District Administrative Court declared invalid the decision to grant the Russian language the status of a regional language.
Given the bilingual character of the Ukrainian society, the language use remains an extremely painful issue, and with the introduction of the new Decree, the “language confrontation” will only increase, provoking an ever-growing societal division in Ukraine. It should be noted that the EU member states, the closest partners of Ukraine, are against the restrictions on the use of minority languages in the country.
The human rights and civil liberties are recognized and respected in the Donetsk People’s Republic in line with generally recognized principles and norms of the international law. Article 19 of the Constitution of the Donetsk People’s Republic provides for the right to communicate in his or her native language and to freely choose his or her language of communication, education, teaching and creation. Article 10 provides for the status of Russian and Ukrainian as state languages in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
In the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Ombudsman Office is responsible for observance of the rights and freedoms. So, one can file a complaint with the Ombudsman or make an appointment for a personal reception if his\her rights have been violated.
Citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in any suitable way. Now, the majority of applications are still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or the heads of the Office, addressing the Public Complaints and Appeals Department, via hotlines and via web-reception on the Website of the Ombudsman. There is a possibility to file a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail.
Since the beginning of 2018, the Ombudsman received 3557 complaints. In the period of work between 28 July and 3 August 2018, 15 persons visited the Ombudsman in person, 60 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 16 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 14 persons received legal counselling. 5 written appeals were approved for consideration, 5 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 19 calls were received via hotlines, 8 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into six categories: violations in criminal law – 268 appeals, violations in civil law– 261 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 5 appeals, social and humanitarian issues – 1723 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 444 appeals, other issues – 856 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 03.08.2018
Violations in criminal law
Issues of social and humanitarian affairs
Violations in civil law
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of DPR, the one which deals with the issues of exercise of social rights of citizens and violations of these rights is the most frequent. These issues are: pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid – 425 appeals, temporary accommodation – 484 appeals, issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 159 appeals, migration legislation issues – 300 appeals, labour legislation issues – 131 appeals, healthcare issues – 99 appeals, guardianship and family law issues – 45 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 20 appeals, activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations – 24 appeals, land use and tenure – 6 appeals, the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials – 30 appeals. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 03.08.2018
pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
migration legislation issues
guardianship and family law issues
labour legislation issues
issues of education, culture and sport
issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations
land use and tenure
the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials
The majority of complaints are traditionally received from Donetsk, by territory (Diagram 3).
The number of appeals (complains, applications) from citizens, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 03.08.2018
- Estimates of mortality, wounds to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
Almost every day the DPR Ombudsman’s Office records cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by Kiev authorities: the right to life, to security of the person, to inviolability of the home.
On July 27, as a result of military operations in Bezimennoye village, Novoazovsk region, two DPR servicemen born in 1995 and 1993 sustained mine-blast traumas and shrapnel injuries.
On July 30, as a result of military operations in Sakhanka village, Novoazovsk region, two DPR servicemen born in 1979 and 1988 received mine-blast injuries and shrapnel wounds.
Within the period between 27 July and 2 August 2018, 4 DPR servicemen sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression of the Ukrainian side.
Within the period between 1 January and 2 August 2018, 205 persons sustained injuries of various severities in the territory of the DPR. Among them, there were 125 DPR servicemen, 52 civilian men, 26 civilian women and 2 underage children.
Within the period between 27 July and 2 August 2018 – 3 DPR servicemen died in the territory of the DPR.
Within the period between 1 January and 2 August 2018, 101 persons died in the territory of the DPR, including 6 women and 95 men, including 2 underage children.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4668 persons died. Among them, there are 611 women and 4057 men, including 78 children under eighteen.
Officially confirmed information on individuals, who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman’s Office in DPR.
- Register of the prisoners of war, missing soldiers
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 03.08.2018, 278 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 82 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 196 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are being clarified by the Ukrainian side.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 3 August 2018, 473 persons are considered missing. There is a possibility that they are held in Ukrainian captivity.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of the armed conflict, the civilian population living in the zone of fighting and near the contact line is often affected. With the view to protect the human right to life and security of the person, and to provide assistance to victims as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres).
Persons living in social housing objects receive humanitarian assistance on a regular basis. From 13 through 31 July 2018 Ombudsman Office and the ICRC delivered humanitarian relief in the form of humanitarian packages with food and hygiene products for former POWs and persons affected as a result of military operations who reside in social housing objects (dormitories, boarding houses, preventative clinics etc.) of the Republic. Persons with disabilities of I and II disability category and persons who suffer from chronic renal failure and undergo haemodialysis also received humanitarian aid. In total, 2351 citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic received humanitarian relief.
Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for accommodation in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres etc.) have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. With the coming into force of the Order of the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic No. 137 of 24.04.2018, Territorial authorities in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. Social housing objects, which used to carry out activities under the patronage of the Ombudsman Office, are authorized to supervise the authorities.
During the period of work between 28 July and 3 August 2018, 6 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1129 accommodation places available for IDPs in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
It is necessary to remind that there are 7314 persons, including 1781 children under the age of eighteen registered since the beginning of the conflict. 60 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 52 of them operate, 8 of them are held in reserve.
Currently, 2632 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 490 underage children, 4682 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1291 children under eighteen.
- Employment of DPR citizens
The Republican Employment Centre is the main institution responsible for providing jobs to the population.
According to their data, 31.1 thousands of vacancies were available in the common database as of 3.08.2018. As of 3 August 2018, there were 29.4 thousand individuals who seek for a job, registered in the Republic Employment Centres. Among them: 21.9 thousand have been employed (13.4 of them – on permanent positions, 8.5 – temporarily).
Donetsk Centre of Vocational Education of The Republic Employment Centre organises regular free public workshops to train practical skills, such as work with personal computers; technique and mechanization of trade accounts (work with cash register machines); the program “1C: Accounting 8.2.”; fundamentals of entrepreneurship; processing and decoration of textile and clothing products etc. 143 persons participated in such seminars.