Disinfo: The attack on the Russian language caused the conflict in Ukraine


People living in those two provinces, in Donetsk and Luhansk, should be able to speak their mother tongue, Russian, knowing that is was the reason for this explosion.

The populations and the persons in charge of Donetsk and Lugansk are ready to accept a solution, a form of autonomy which allows them simply to speak their language, to have their culture and not to have a centralising State which tries to impose by all possible force a Ukrainian nationality which in fact, in this particular region, does not really exist.


This recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative is aimed at weakening the national identity of Ukrainians and undermining Ukraine's sovereignty. Ukraine is a well-defined nation-state with a long history, which preserved language, literature and identity, despite foreign rule for long periods.

The international community, including the European Union recognizes and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. 

The law on regional languages was repealed by the parliament of Ukraine on February 23, 2014. However the decree was not signed. The law officially expired only on February 28, 2018, when the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared the law unconstitutional.

At Euromaidan, which propaganda outlets describe as a coup not accepted by Donbas, three Donbas residents were among the killed activists.

Human rights missions that travelled to Ukraine in 2014 did not find evidence that the Russian minority would have been in danger:

1. The Advisory Committee’s Ad hoc Report on the situation of national minorities in Ukraine, adopted on 1 April 2014, Council of Europe;

2. Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 15 June 2014;

3. Statement by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities on her Recent Visit to Ukraine, 4 April 2014

By 2016, 1 870 000 people moved as refugees from Donetsk and Luhansk occupied regions, as well as from Crimea to the rest of Ukraine and about 800 000 to 1 million moved to Russia.

Read other disinformation cases on Donbas.


During the general census of the population in 2001, 74% of the population in the Donbas region and 68,8% in Luhansk region named Russian as their first (but not unique) language. Russian was in use especially in the cities, while villages remain Ukrainian speaking. Regardless of the language they speak, 56% of Donbas residents called themselves ethnic Ukrainians.


  • Reported in: Issue 180
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11/12/2019
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: Ukraine
  • Keywords: DNR, Russian language, LNR, Donbas, Minsk agreements


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism and an attempt to erode the disastrous historical role of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by stating that other European countries signed various international agreements with Germany after 1934. Read other examples referring to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact here, here and here.

German troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.

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Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative undermining the Joint International Investigation of the downing of the flight  MH17.

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Ukrainian language inspectors beat people for speaking Russian, send them to correctional labor camps

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Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the status of Russian language in Ukraine. 

Ukraine has no plans to create an institution of  “language inspectors”, nor it is foreseen in the law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language”. "Language inspectors" are a fabrication of disinformation; they do not exist in Ukraine.