New East Digital Archive

Ukrainian talk show guest walks out in language row

28 July 2017

Last week, a discussion on Ukrainian talk show Direct Quote came to an abrupt end when the show’s host, Ostap Drozdov, insisted that one of his guests speak Ukrainian on air rather than Russian.

BBC News reports that blogger and political expert Yuriy Romanenko left the studio during the live discussion, shown on Ukraine’s Zik television channel, after being asked to leave by Mr Drozdov.

“We agreed that [you would speak] Ukrainian,” Mr Drozdov stated, prompting Mr Romanenko to respond: “Let me speak the way I want to speak.”

“OK, then I would like to ask you to leave this studio,” the host concluded, after which point his guest shook his hand and left the set.

While Mr Drozdov was emphatic that he wished Ukrainian to be used on his show as a point of principle, Mr Romanenko later argued that the right to speak in any language is determined by law, rather than by personal preference or whim.

“Laws, not strange criteria in the head of a presenter on any TV channel, set the framework for discussion,” he wrote on the Russian-language Hvylya news website, of which he is editor-in-chief.

Although some were sympathetic to Mr Drozdov’s cause, with media consultant and high-ranking member of the nationalist UKROP party Dmytro Simansky affirming that there should not be “a single word in Russian on television”, a journalist at Ukrainian-language internet television station Espreso TV, Bohdan Butkevych, affirmed that the content of what people say is far more important than the language they say it in.

Ukrainian is Ukraine’s sole official language, although the majority of the population can speak Russian, with around a third of the population considering Russian their mother tongue. A law affording Russian the status of a regional language in some areas of Ukraine was abolished following the Euromaidan protests of 2013-14.

Source: BBC News