With money over Ukrainian language: how the Soviet government eradicated the native tongue of Ukrainians

With money over Ukrainian language: how the Soviet government eradicated the native tongue of Ukrainians

22 July, 21:04
During the Soviet times the teachers of the Russian language in Ukraine were paid 15% more than teachers of Ukrainian.

Ukrainian analyst Andriy Okara tells about the methods by which a new historical community “Soviet people” was created in the USSR:

“The other day there was an unpleasant dispute with two people about one fairly old issue, which is about the same age as the 1980 Olympics. On the policy of denationalization in the late USSR.

This is not about assessments, but about the facts, so I apologize in advance for the verbosity.

Namely. The Soviet Union had a rather complex national policy. At first, it was “indigenization” and the creation of national and cultural identities for many peoples who lived in the USSR, and who previously did not have them at all, or had fragmentary identities. Such waves were followed by waves of Russification. At the same time, the designers of the "Soviet people" treated different peoples in different periods in different ways. But the general tendency was as follows: complex, conceptual topics should exist in Russian, the urban language - Russian, plus a little local flavor. And the village - well, let them talk as they like. Let them dance their aboriginal dances in their dressing gowns, skullcaps and trousers and sing their wonderful, sad, or vice versa - fiery songs.

During the Brezhnev era, the party had the feeling that it was almost possible to create a “Soviet people” as a new community. Under Andropov, they began to chase not only "idlers", but also dissidents, incl. "Bourgeois nationalists".

The subject of our dispute was the practice of additional motivation of Russian language teachers in the Ukrainian SSR - that they received 15% more (from the salary) than Ukrainian teachers and other teachers. I heard about many people who taught Russian language and literature in schools in the Ukrainian SSR, as well as at the Department of Russian Philology at the Pedagogical Institute.

And the result of all this Soviet cultural policy is as follows: of my friends and acquaintances who studied and lived in Belarus, only a few can speak Belarusian. About half of those who study and live in Ukraine can speak Ukrainian.

In the 1980s, this was not a prohibition policy. It was a policy of demotivation.

Good or bad - I'm not ready to discuss here. But this is natural.

By the way, I well understand the Soviet regime and its concern with the "Ukrainian question". This is very reminiscent of the current concern of the AP of the Russian Federation with the "Khabarovsk issue", which, by the way, is also somewhat Ukrainian (and Sergei Furgal himself, if Belkovsky is to be believed, comes from a Moldovan family that moved from Ukraine in ancient times; confirmed the Moldovan genesis of the surname). Imagine for a moment a 52 million people living compactly on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR, who have no problems with identity - that is, there are no permanent Hamlet questions: who am I? "A bit different" Russian? Little Russian? Novoross? Ukrainian? H..hol? "Russian Ukrainian"? Eastern Slav? Part of a single Soviet people? Who, in principle, has no "language issue" and no language border between the village and the city, who is not told that his language is needed only for twisting the tail of a cow or for sentimental romances. Which does not have mutual regional hatred - between Donetsk and Lviv. Etc. But it is precisely such a result that could have come about as a result of the national policy of the 1920s. But after that policy of "indigenization" and the NEP there was a "year of the great turning point", the IED process, the Holodomor, the "Executed Renaissance" and much more. It is also worth adding that a people without a continuous statist tradition, without the deification of power (rather, exactly the opposite), with anarchist habits. In the place of the Moscow Bolsheviks, I would seriously strain myself and regard such a community as a direct threat to the USSR - even if all residents of the Ukrainian SSR were all communists and believed in a "bright future".

But back to the 15% surcharge for Russian language teachers.

I was faced with the fact that very few of the historians of the 20th century, historians of the Ukrainian language and sociolinguists were aware of the normative (more precisely, bylaw) act establishing this same 15%. (By the way, it is possible that there were several such acts - I found one.) This act is not about all schools in general, but about schools in rural areas and in small towns (township). My friends who taught Russian in schools and technical schools in the big cities of the Ukrainian SSR testify that they received these supplements there too.

Those people from whom I heard about this said that at that time (in the 1980s) they were motivated by the influence of the USSR Ministry of Defense - they say, guys go to the army and do not know Russian well. Therefore, let the teachers be paid extra. In the Resolution I am talking about, I did not find any traces of the presence of the USSR Ministry of Defense. I think that now the involvement or non-involvement of the army in these 15% is impossible to reveal. But I remember that if the schoolchild's parents had any relation to the Soviet army, he was immediately released from studying the Belarusian (Ukrainian) language.

The result of all this is now (this is a value judgment): the Ukrainian language (outside the Western Ukraine) is on the verge of extinction, the Belarusian language is beyond.

In general, here is an excerpt from the Resolution I found. (Interestingly, clause 8 is classified.)

And yet - a quote from the autobiographical memoirs of Alexander Dovzhenko, who graduated from the Glukhov Teachers' Institute shortly before the revolution..."



June 10, 1983

On the organization of the implementation in the republic of the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR of May 26, 1983 No. 473 "On additional measures to improve the study of the Russian language in secondary schools and other educational institutions of the Union republics".

8. Secret.


4) Decided to increase by 15 percent since 1984 the salary rates of teachers of preparatory and I-III grades, teaching classes in the Russian language, teachers of the Russian language and literature of IV-X (XI) grades of secondary schools and boarding schools, teachers of the Russian language and literature of all types and names of vocational and secondary specialized educational institutions with a non-Russian language of instruction located in rural areas and urban-type settlements.




від 10 червня 1983 року

Про організацію виконання в республіці постанови ЦК КПРС і Ради Міністрів СРСР від 26 травня 1983 р. № 473 «Про додаткові заходи по поліпшенню вивчення російської мови в загальноосвітніх школах та інших навчальних закладах союзних республік».

8. Таємно.

9. Довести до відома Держплану УРСР, Міністерства вищої і середньої спеціальної освіти УРСР, Міністерства освіти УРСР, Державного комітету УРСР по професійно-технічній освіті, Міністерства фінансів УРСР, обкомів, Київського міськкому Компартії України, облвиконкомів, Київського і Севастопольського міськвиконкомів, що ЦК КПРС і Рада Міністрів СРСР постановою від 26 травня № 473 «Про додаткові заходи по поліпшенню вивчення російської мови в загальноосвітніх школах та інших навчальних закладах союзних республік»;

4) Постановили збільшити з 1984 року на 15 процентів ставки заробітної плати вчителів підготовчих і І —III класів, які ведуть заняття з російської мови, вчителів російської мови і літератури IV—X (XI) класів загальноосвітніх шкіл та шкіл-інтернатів, вчителів російської мови і літератури всіх типів і найменувань професійних і середніх спеціальних навчальних закладів з неросійською мовою навчання, розташованих в сільській місцевості і в селищах міського типу.

ЦДАГОУ.— Ф № 1—Оп. № 10,—Спр. 3146,—Арк. 28—31.

Alexander Dovzhenko (about training at the Glukhov Teachers' Institute, about 1914)

We were trained as teachers - the russians of the region. In the Kiev, Podolsk and Volyn provinces, some kind of allowance was subsequently added to our salary, it seems, eighteen rubles a month - for the Russification of the region.

Text in Ukrainian language:

(«З нас готували учителів – обрусителів краю. В Київській, Подільській і Волинській губерніях до нашої платні згодом додавалась якась надбавка, здається, вісімнадцять карбованців на місяць, – за обрусіння краю».)

(Довженко О. Твори : у 5 т. / О.Довженко. – К. : Дніпро, 1964. Т.1. С. 23.)

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