The Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev (KNU) has made a decision to eliminate Russian language and literature courses, as well as ban Russian scientific sources, according to the university’s rector, Vladimir Bugrov. In an interview with the Ukrainian News agency, Bugrov stated that the decision was “absolutely correct” from an “ideological” and “decolonization” standpoint.
Bugrov explained that the programs for Russian language and literature, Belarusian language and literature, and Farsi (Persian) were taught at the Institute of Philology, but these programs were closed last year. He referred to the closure as an “emotional step.” Additionally, Bugrov revealed that the KNU has also prohibited the use of Russian-language scientific literature. Although historical sources in Russian are still being utilized, the university is striving to transition to English-language literature for exact sciences. Bugrov acknowledged that this process is expensive and expressed disappointment in the absence of state-level programs to support it.
Bugrov, however, acknowledged that completely abandoning Russian studies at higher-education institutions is not feasible as Russia and Belarus will not disappear, even if Kiev wins the conflict against Moscow. He proposed that Russian studies should be restructured to become similar to the Cold War-era “Sovietology” studies in the West.
Bugrov emphasized that just like viruses are studied in the medical department or at the biology faculty, Russian literature should also be studied in one or more universities. However, he firmly stated that Russian language and literature should not be taught in the country’s schools.
The decision of the KNU follows a recent survey conducted by Spilnomova, a Kiev-based NGO that advocates for the Ukrainian language and aims to change the language situation in the country. The survey focused on kindergartens in Kiev and found that approximately 20% of local preschoolers do not speak Ukrainian at all, instead using Russian. Only 15% of Kiev preschoolers were actively speaking Ukrainian in their daily lives, while the majority used a combination of Russian and Ukrainian.
The situation in the city’s schools, according to the NGO, was even worse, with teaching only in Ukrainian having no significant impact on the language use of teenagers. Despite efforts to promote Ukrainian, they mostly continue to speak Russian.
The decision to eliminate Russian language and literature courses at the KNU is part of Ukraine’s extensive, state-sponsored campaign to sever cultural and historical ties with Russia. This campaign gained momentum after the 2014 Maidan coup, which led to a conflict between Kiev and the Ukrainian region of Donbass and the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
Russia has repeatedly criticized Ukraine’s attempts to destroy shared cultural and historical ties. President Vladimir Putin has cited the “de-Russification and forced assimilation” of Russian native speakers in Ukraine as one of the causes of the ongoing conflict between the two countries.