Kyiv, 15 March 2014 – All Ukrainian communities in Russia, especially their leaders, are under great pressure”, said Valentyn Pylypchuk, Head of the Kamchatka Ukrainian Community, during a briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Thirteen civil organizations of Ukrainians in Russia appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, urging him to withdraw troops from Crimea and prevent the bloodshed.
According to the latest census in the Russian Federation, about 1,928,000 Ukrainians live in Russia, of which 1,100,000 consider Ukrainian to be their native language.
Ukrainians, one of Russia’s largest ethnic minorities have no Ukrainian schools, kindergartens or churches. The community is deprived of television or radio programs in its own language. The only federal Ukrainian organization was disbanded by the Russian government a few years ago under false pretenses. After that, Ukrainians have twice convened to form the Ukrainian Congress of Russia, but both times the Russian Ministry of Justice refused to register the civic organization, as required by the law.
According to Pylypchuk, leaders of the Ukrainian communities in Russia are being persecuted. “There is a real threat to their lives”, he said. Head of the Ukrainian Worldwide Coordination Council Mykhailo Ratushny added: “Russia is completely ignoring the Ukrainian ethnic minority. Recent events only reinforced this trend. It is not only difficult to be a Ukrainian in Russia. It is dangerous.”