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Amendments to the Ukrainian Law on Minorities Law Allow for Abuse

MTI-Hungary Today 2023.08.14.

In a joint statement, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association and the Hungarian Democratic Alliance in Ukraine criticized the draft law on the national communities of Ukraine, the public debate of which took place recently.

A joint statement by the two main Hungarian interest groups in Ukraine says that “in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, they support efforts to amend the Law on National Minorities (Communities) in Ukraine and to expand the rights of minorities.”

However, they consider it inappropriate that the proposals for amendments were received just before the debate,

making it impossible to conduct a thorough legal analysis and to prepare and submit substantive proposals for amendments.”

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The joint statement points out that Hungarian organizations made a number of “constructive” proposals in the period leading up to the parliamentary debate on the new minority law, but “none of them was included in the amendment.”

Most of the amendments to the law contain only declaratory additions to the text, and allow for “arbitrary interpretation,”

the statement said.

If the amendment is adopted, an important criterion in the definition of national minorities, namely that their representatives “traditionally live on the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized state borders,” could be removed from Article 1 of the law. Consequently, all citizens of Ukraine who are not ethnic Ukrainians (or members of autochthonous peoples) will be included in the category of national minorities, emphasized the statement.

According to the authoritative advocacy organizations of Transcarpathian Hungarians, “several passages of the draft are discriminatory and violate basic human rights,” which is why they recommend their revision and/or deletion.

Overall, the proposed amendment does not restore all the rights of minorities guaranteed by the Ukrainian Constitution, nor does it serve to restore the previous minority rights,

the joint statement of the organizations reads.

On August 8, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Committee on National Minority Issues held a public debate on the amendment, that was published on the Verkhovna Rada‘s official website two days later.

The draft Law on National Communities of Ukraine was adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on December 13, 2022. It “interprets minority rights as the rights of persons belonging to minorities only, exercisable individually,” depriving them (their communities and organizations) of the possibility to exercise their political, educational, and linguistic rights, and thus of influencing their own destiny. Moreover, it does not provide an adequate institutional basis and legal mechanisms for the enforcement and protection of the rights of national minorities. Several politicians and organisations have already spoken out against it.


The law on minorities is not the only measure was that is harmful and derogatory to the Hungarian community living in Transcarpathia. The language law, phased in 2019, is one of the strictest and most repressive laws enacted by a European government against indigenous minorities since World War II, mandating the use of the state language in public administration, public life, culture, and sports, with the exception of private conversations and religious services, and established quotas for the use of minority languages in mass media and education. Ukrainian nationalists have taken this law as carte blanche for anti-Hungarian actions: attacks against Hungarian minority institutions and monuments, and threats against political representatives and dedicated community teachers.

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Via Ungarn Heute, Featured image via Facebook/Ukrajnai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség

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