| 6 December 2023, Wednesday |

Kyiv imposes ban on Russian-language culture

During a roundtable discussion with reporters, NASA’s top scientists issued a warning, stating that July of 2023 is highly likely to be the warmest month on record. They even suggested that this record-breaking temperature could be unparalleled in “hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”
“We are seeing unprecedented changes all over the world. The heatwaves that we are seeing in the US, in Europe, China, and demolishing records left, right and center. This is not a surprise,” said Gavin Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

June of 2023 was already the hottest June on record and July is likely to be the hottest month overall. “We know from science is that human activity, principally greenhouse gas emissions, are unequivocally causing the warming we are seeing on our planet,” Kate Calvin, NASA chief scientist and senior climate adviser, said at the same briefing.
NASA’s scientists clarified that data collected and analyzed by the institute had already pointed towards this. “There has been a decade-on-decade increase in temperatures throughout the last four decades,” Schmidt said.

There is a possibility of street musicians singing Russian songs in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, facing issues in the near future. Similarly, bars and restaurants that play Russian background music might also encounter problems.
The reason is that Kyiv city council has issued a temporary ban on performing or showcasing Russian-language art and culture — such as books, music, plays and concerts — in public. This ban also encompasses cultural and educational programs. The restriction not only applies to works by Russian authors and creators, but to all cultural products publicly presented in or translated into Russian.

Ukrainian MPs said the move was designed to protect Ukraine from Russian influence. “Russia is the language of the aggressor and it has no place in the heart of our capital,” said Vadym Vasylchuk, the deputy chairman of the Standing Committee on Education and Science, Youth and Sports.
The move is backed by Ukraine’s Vidsich (Defense) movement, which began calling for a ban on the Russian language and Russian goods, films and music in 2014, following the annexation of Crimea. “A ban on Russian-language cultural products is necessary,” Vidsich activist Kateryna Chepura told DW. “This is an additional lever for activists working to boycott everything Russian, so we can say: shut it down, remove Russian from public life.”

The Kyiv city council ban, however, is temporary, lending it a symbolic quality only. A permanent, legally binding ban would require support from Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
As a result, Chepura calls Kyiv’s temporary ban “an ineffective instrument, because you cannot be held accountable for disregarding it.” She regards it as a “moral factor encouraging people who do not want to continue tolerating Russian music on the streets or in theater.”

In fact, certain Russian-language cultural products are already prohibited in Ukraine. The bans date back to September 2019, when the first restrictions were imposed in the region of Lviv. Subsequently, other cities like Ternopil and Zhytomyr in the Volhynia region, followed suit.
Human rights activist Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, however, said such bans are discriminatory and unconstitutional. “These are illegal decisions, because local authorities have no right to regulate such issues and impose such bans,” Yavorskyy told DW. “That is why they have no legal consequences.” The judiciary, he added, had already deemed such local bans illegal.

A person violating the Kyiv city council moratorium on Russian cultural products cannot be held accountable, Yaworskyy said. “These bans issued by local authorities are nothing but political gestures — only the Ukrainian parliament can turn such bans into law.” Only then, he said, would they become legally binding and enforceable.

  • DW