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Russia Envoy Slams UNSC Over Refusal to Hold Meeting on Ukrainian Language Bill

© AP Photo / Richard DrewRussian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia - Sputnik International
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The decision of the UN Security Council to reject a request to hold a meeting on the Ukrainian language law is a clear demonstration of double standards, Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said at a meeting of the UNSC.

Earlier in the day, the UNSC rejected Russia's request to hold a meeting on the recently-enacted Ukrainian language law, which Moscow said runs counter to the Minsk agreements.

"We are once again confirming that you are not interested in the Ukrainians at all, you are only interested in your geopolitical agenda and to hit Russia as hard as possible. I want to thank you very sincerely for this blatant demonstration of double standards", Nebenzia said Monday.

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The Russian Ambassador was interrupted twice by the UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Jonathan Allen, who accused the Moscow diplomat of intervening in the procedural course of the meeting and showing disrespect for the UNSC and the ruling, asking that the Russian envoy limit his remarks to an explanation of his vote.

Nebenzia stated, however, that by enacting the language law, Ukrainian authorities are introducing a form of inquisition in the country that will create a hostile atmosphere between Ukraine and Russia.

"The task of any government and authorities is to, in fact, seek to contribute to cohesion, meanwhile, what the current authorities are doing is introducing an inquisition. They are putting a ticking bomb on Ukrainian society and neighboring states, and this is very dangerous", the diplomat noted.

Last week, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed into law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language" which envisages the use of the Ukrainian language in almost all spheres of life. The parliament adopted this law in late April, but the political opposition demanded its repeal, citing procedure and constitution violations. Parliament refused to repeal the law, however.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the law provides for exceptions for English and other EU languages, saying that "this means that the only target of the attack is the Russian language, which is spoken by the vast majority of Ukrainian nationals", and which is native to many.

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On Monday, Lavrov said that the language issue in Ukraine should also be applied to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, referring to the words of the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, about overcoming the language split.

“Today, in his inaugural speech, Zelenskiy spoke out against attempts to split Ukrainian society by language. There is no doubt that this should fully extend to the religious sphere, including in the wider context of the comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements on overcoming the internal Ukrainian conflict", Lavrov said.

The conflict in the southeast of Ukraine began in 2014 after Kiev launched a military operation in the Donbass region following a refusal by its residents to recognize the new government, which seized power after the overthrow of then-President Viktor Yanukovych.  In February 2015, warring parties signed the Minsk peace accords to end hostilities in the region, but the situation has remained tense, with both parties accusing each other of ceasefire violations.

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