Moscow is concerned over Ukraine discriminating against the Russian-speaking population living in that republic. A decision to introduce own TV and radio programmes in Ukrainian "runs counter both to the spirit of Russian-Ukrainian humanitarian cooperation and to international standards concerning encouragement and protection of the rights of people belonging to minorities," Alexander Yakovenko, an official Foreign Ministry spokesman, told journalists on Tuesday.
This particular step by the Ukrainian side, the diplomat noted, narrows down channels through which Russian-language information can be received by a multi-million Russian-speaking population and many Ukrainians for whom the Russian language is also their mother tongue, and violates international agreements and norms. Incidentally, these norms are contained in Article 27 of the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights, in a number of articles of the UN declaration on the rights of people belonging to national or ethnic, religious and language minorities, as well as Article 9 of the Council of Europe's framework agreement on the protection of national minorities.
"We expect that Kiev will heed our concerns about this matter," Yakovenko stressed.
The National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine recently adopted a decision to switch in a year's time all Ukraine's television and radio organisations to making their own programmes in the Ukrainian language.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969