A law compelling Ukrainian national print media to publish in the country's official language came into force on Sunday, in a bid to push back against the use of Russian.
All national newspapers and magazines must be published in Ukrainian under the law. It does not ban publication in Russian, but stipulates that a parallel Ukrainian version of equal scope and circulation must be published too.
For publishers, publishing dual versions is not considered a profitable option. The last nationwide Russian-language daily paper Vesti switched to Ukrainian on Jan. 10.
The transition is based on a controversial language law from 2019 that was passed just after former President Petro Poroshenko was voted out of office. Poroshenko signed it just before current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took office and a transitional period was in place since then.
The law aims to push back against the influence of the Russian language in the public sphere.
From mid-May, news sites registered in Ukraine must at least offer an equivalent Ukrainian-language version of articles – and that version must open first.
From July 2024, the Ukrainian language requirement will also apply to regional media. Radio and television have already been under strict Ukrainian language quotas for years.
The print market in Ukraine has long been shrinking.
Well-respected weekly and daily newspapers such as Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (Mirror) and Segodnya (Today) were completely discontinued and now only publish online. Ukraine's language policy has been criticized in neighboring Russia.