In what language, due to the language law, do social networks need to be maintained: in Russian or Ukrainian?

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    Today, in Ukraine, the regulatory legal act regulating language issues is the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language” (hereinafter referred to as the Law on Language).

    This law was adopted by our legislators in April 2019. The purpose of the law is quite understandable – to increase the authority of the Ukrainian language and provide it with a dominant status. This is due to historical moments, in particular with the spread of the Russian language on the territory of Ukraine, as a second language. Indeed, even many government officials speak Ukrainian with difficulty and, if possible, switch to Russian.

    The law was perceived by the Ukrainian society inconsistently. On the one hand, we all understand the need to use the Ukrainian language as a national language. Therefore, it is logical that the main task of the adopted law is to introduce the Ukrainian language, first of all, in the state and public spheres. However, the realities of social interaction in Ukraine are such that many Ukrainians continue to communicate, correspond, post information in Russian.

    The law did not touch the private and spiritual spheres of citizens’ lives. So, it does not oblige to use the Ukrainian language in interpersonal communication and during religious rites. As for other spheres of life, here the obligation to know and use the Ukrainian language is introduced.

    Адвокат, Очиченко Елена Григорьевна

    Lawyer, Ochichenko Elena Grigorievna

    Without going into details of the provisions of the Law, we note that it obliges to use the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life. In some cases, the use of English or the languages of the European Union is allowed. But for the Russian-speaking population, it may be offensive that since Russian is not a language of the European Union, the above reservation cannot be applied to it.

    Due to the fact that the Internet is an integral part of our life, the question of the language of communication on the Internet is especially relevant. For example, almost every second Ukrainian uses social networks, which are useful both for private communication and promotion of goods and services. The author of this note, in particular, as an active Facebook user, posts materials, news and other information related to professional activities, both in Ukrainian and in Russian.

    So what language can and should be used to maintain pages on social networks? If we talk about social networks, then they must be drawn up in accordance with the procedure for using the state language in the field of user interfaces of computer programs and websites, which is provided for by Article 27 of the Law.

    In particular, an obligation has been introduced for civil servants and employees of municipal bodies, legal entities of state and municipal forms of ownership, mass media, entrepreneurs registered in Ukraine, whose main activity is the sale of goods and the provision of services to third parties, to draw up in Ukrainian the Internet representative offices (including websites, web pages in social networks).

    The most important thing is that all these sites are loaded by default in Ukrainian. At the same time, the legislator allowed the use of website versions in other languages, including Russian, provided that the amount of information in any other language, including Russian, should not be less than in Ukrainian.


    Penalty for non-compliance with the provisions of the Law on Language and the use of user interfaces of computer programs and websites in a language other than Ukrainian, in the field of information for general information, public events, technical and project documentation, advertising, healthcare, sports, telecommunications and postal services, transport entail the imposition of a fine from two hundred to three hundred non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens (from UAH 3400 to UAH 5100) or a warning if the violation is committed for the first time.

    If during the year these offenses for which the offender has already been held accountable are repeated again, then the amount of the fine in this case will increase and amount to an amount from 8500 to 11900 UAH.

    Адвокат, Очиченко Елена Григорьевна

    Lawyer, Ochichenko Elena Grigorievna

    These norms regarding the mandatory use of the Ukrainian language in social networks will come into force three years after the entry into force of the Law. Since the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language” entered into force on July 16, 2019, then, accordingly, the provisions above will become mandatory from July 16, 2022. Thus, penalties will also be applied to offenders starting from 07/16/2022.

    Separately, it is worth dwelling on advertising in social networks. According to. Article 32 of the Law of Ukraine “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language”, the language of advertising in Ukraine is also the state language.

    The rules detailing the specifics of the use in advertising of the Russian, Crimean Tatar language, other languages of indigenous peoples, national minorities of Ukraine are established by the law on the procedure for exercising the rights of indigenous peoples, national minorities of Ukraine. This rule is already in effect. Therefore, all advertising on social networks must be in Ukrainian.

    It should be noted that a number of provisions of the Law will come into force in 2021, 2022 and even from 2030. How society will react to all the changes – time will tell. However, bills on amendments to this Law are already being submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. In particular, the initiative of people’s deputies to use the Russian language in the work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was quite actively discussed in the media.

    So far, all attempts to amend the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language” are very weak. If we talk about the Russian language, then in Ukraine it belongs to the language of the national minority. To date, there is no special law that would regulate the procedure for using the languages of national minorities in Ukraine, in particular Russian, in Ukraine.

    Thus, until mid-July 2022. You can conduct social networks in Ukraine in Russian, and you won’t be fined for it. Advertising should already be in Ukrainian. Responsibility for advertising in social networks not in the state language is provided for by Art. 188-52 KUPAP. The amount of the fine – from 3400 UAH. up to 5100 UAH. However, this norm of the KupAP is not yet in force and will also come into force on 07/16/2022.

    Author: Lawyer, Ochichenko Elena Grigorievna, Kharkiv

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