Russia often complains about the treatment of Russian minorities abroad, especially in Ukraine. But how did they treat the Ukrainian minority themselves?

E.g. how many Ukrainian language schools are were still open in Crimea in (say) 2021 compared to 2013? (If number of schools is a bad metric for some reason, substitute with a more relevant one, like number of seats etc.)

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    "But how did they treat the Ukrainian minority themselves?" At least officially Ukrainian is one of the 3 official languages in Crimea.
    – convert
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 9:49
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    The argument that Russians are treated badly abroad (because they don't get education and other state services in Russian there) is not a serious one, it's just an excuse for invasions. This is why I think we should be careful not to state that Ukrainians are treated poorly because they don't get education in Ukrainian in Russia. This only opens a door for the "hypocritical western double standards" propaganda chime. Commented May 22, 2023 at 9:10
  • 3
    @DmitryGrigoryev Did they try not treating Russians badly to see if that would make any difference?
    – alamar
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 12:30
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    I think there is a confusion here between Russian-speaking Ukrainians and Russian minorities...
    – Evargalo
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 12:36
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    @alamar Whom do you refer to by "they"? Commented May 22, 2023 at 12:47

3 Answers 3


The website Zmina.info provides the numbers you are looking for. Translation is courtesy of Google Translate:

According to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, at the time of the occupation, 208,536 students were educated in Crimea. Of these, 189,132 students or 90.7% studied in Russian, 13,589 people (6.5%) in Ukrainian, 5,551 people (2.7%) in Crimean Tatar.

But already in the 2014/2015 academic year, only one school out of 532 educational institutions of Crimea carried out the full cycle of education in Ukrainian. The total number of classes with Ukrainian as the language of instruction was reduced from 875 to 163, with only 2,154 students enrolled.

In October 2016, the CHRG received data for the 2016/2017 academic year, which showed a further deterioration in the situation. So in 2016, only 28 classes remained in Crimea, where, out of 188,517 students in Crimea (excluding Sevastopol), 371 children received education in the Ukrainian language. This is 0.2% of the total number of students in Crimea in 2016.

At the same time, even according to the information of the Ministry of Statistics of the Russian Federation, in 2014 Ukrainians made up 15.08% of the population of Crimea or 344,515 people and were the second largest nationality after Russians (65.31%, 1492078 people).

According to the Russian census, 18,706 school-age children in Crimea identify themselves as Ukrainians and 29,140 as Crimean Tatars. Even if based on the number of Crimeans who call Ukrainian their native language, in relation to the total number of Ukrainians in Crimea - 21%, then the number of school-age children (from 7 to 17 years old) who consider Ukrainian as their native language in 2016 amounted to 3,950 people.

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Chart above shows the number of students per language in Crimean schools. Red is Russian, yellow is Ukrainian, green is Crimean Tatar. They also provide the following chart showing the number of classes studying in Ukrainian (yellow) and Crimean Tatar (green) over time:

enter image description here

Finally, they calculate the ratio between the number of classes in each language and the number of children in each ethnicity as per the census in 2016:

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Russian language is over-represented, with 38% more classes in Russian than would've been expected per census data. Ukrainian is under-represented, with only 2% of ethnic Ukrainians provided with education in Ukrainian. Crimean Tatar language classes are likewise below the expected number, however it hasn't changed much since 2014 as per the second chart in my answer.

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    Is the Ukrainian population in Crimea possibly in decline as well?
    – gerrit
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 12:24
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    @gerrit the drop off on Ukrainian education was rapid as it started as early as September 2014. I think we can safely conclude that Russia indeed worked to suppress the Ukrainian language from day 1. If it was a more gradual drop off, you would have a point. Commented May 22, 2023 at 12:38
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    Moreover, the last diagram uses Russian-run census data from 2016, so the Ukrainian-speaking population in that chart is certainly not over-estimated...
    – Evargalo
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 12:41
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    @JonathanReez One does not rule out the other at all: Russia suppressing Ukrainian language (or at least Ukrainian language education), and Ukrainian people getting out of Crimea as much as they can.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 13:16
  • Your answer ignores two important context of Russian education policy - (1) emphasis is now given to Russian medium for teaching all subjects, while other official languages are taught as an additional subject (just like English, German, French etc.) and (2) These official languages are optional and not compulsory and students can opt-out of these classes.
    – sfxedit
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 17:45

So, in September, the new 2022/2023 academic year began in Ukrainian for 190 people, 175 of whom were in the Ukrainian—speaking school No. 20 of Feodosia (nine grades) and 15 people in the 9th "U" grade of the Simferopol Academic Gymnasium.

In January, 182 people study at the Feodosiya school, thus, 197 people study in the Ukrainian language in the republic.

In the past, 2021/2022 academic year, 3,780 schoolchildren studied Ukrainian as a school subject. In January 2023 — 3,486.

In addition, it is noted that 31 children account for Ukrainian preschool education programs, in other words, kindergarten groups with the Ukrainian language.

Where did the 9th "U" class come from? These are those who went to the first grade in 2012, and this is the last stream, they have to finish their studies until May and graduate. Maybe someone will stay to finish their studies in grades 10 and 11, which means that Ukrainian education will be no longer. A year ago there were two Ukrainian classes, and 34 people studied in them, two years ago there were three classes and 52 students — these are all those who went to school back in Ukraine and for some reason decided not to change the language of instruction. Now it remains to finish and graduate the last class, as of 2014 it was the third grade of elementary school.


Apparently, the answer is two Ukrainian-language schools currently, but there would be just one next year. Crimean Tatar language has more luck with a network of schools.

  • 1
    Somewhat useful answer with this and next year data, but doesn't give us a basis for comparison over a longer period. Commented May 21, 2023 at 10:29
  • Maybe somebody will provide that data as well.
    – alamar
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 10:39
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    Where does this information come from? You link to the direct source, but it's just a social network post. Whose post is it? Are they a reliable source, or quoting from one?
    – IMSoP
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 15:08
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    I can see screen shots of some documents there but I'm not sure if there are any direct links to those documents.
    – alamar
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 15:17

Russia is a multi-cultural country - it contains 185 different ethnic groups speaking over 100 different languages. Thus it has enough political experience from its own history to know that Russification doesn't really work, and Sovietization offers better results but needs to be gradual. Today, under Putin, Russia follows a mixture of the Russofication and Sovetization policies to deal with multi-culturalism.

As per Article 68 of the Russian constitution - :

  1. The Russian language shall be a state language on the whole territory of the Russian Federation.

  2. The Republics shall have the right to establish their own state languages. In the bodies of state authority and local self-government, state institutions of the Republics they shall be used together with the state language of the Russian Federation.

  3. The Russian Federation shall guarantee to all of its peoples the right to preserve their native language and to create conditions for its study and development.

Despite Russian being the dominant language in Crimea -

Russian as native tongue in Crimea and Svestapool

Ukranian and Crimean Tatar are also recognized as the official language through the provisions of the above cited Article 68 (2). This has been made official as per Article 3 of the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the admission of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the formation of new subjects within the Russian Federation (translated) which says:

  1. The Russian Federation guarantees to all peoples living in the territories of the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol the right to preserve their native language and create conditions for its study and development.

  2. The official languages of the Republic of Crimea are Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar.

(Original Russian source - Договор между Российской Федерацией и Республикой Крым о принятии в Российскую Федерацию Республики Крым и образовании в составе Российской Федерации новых субъектов translated to English with Yandex Translate).

However, Russia has also introduced a tweak in their education policy, where in no languages, apart from Russian, is mandatorily taught in schools. This means any Russian Republic cannot force the citizens to also learn the other state language(s) that they officially recognize. Students can only learn these languages if they want to (voluntarily) and only if they have permission from their parents.

"Forcing a person to learn a language that is not their native one is just as unacceptable as reducing the level and time of teaching Russian," the president said ... - Russian minorities fear for languages.

Thus, in the absence of other reliable evidence (so far), we can conclude that Ukranian and Crimean Tatar continue to be taught in annexed Crimea to those who want to learn it.

Russia has also immediately invested in upgrading the education infrastructure in Crimea (to win over the population), and made attempts to ensure that no one's education is disrupted:

With the development of the network of educational organizations carrying out their activities in accordance with Russian laws, there are created new universities and research organizations in the Crimea. According to the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation # 1465 dated on August 4, 2014 there will be created Crimean Federal University named after Vernadsky in the Crimea. It will consist of seven high schools located in the Crimea, and seven research organizations. It is the tenth Federal University of Russia. Crimean Federal University will start its work by 2015. Citizens residing permanently in the Crimea and Sevastopol, are ensured with the continuation of education in the universities of the Russian Federation. There are special quotas for entrants from the Crimea in geographically closely located universities, they are Southern Federal University and the North Caucasus Federal University ... (Source: Management of Enrollment of Students from the Crimea in the Russian University Education Establishments ).

(A Russian propaganda source also claims 200 new kindergartens has been built since Russia took over Crimea).

However, everything isn't rosy for the Ukranians under Russian occupation. The Ukranians fighting Russia have observed with dismay that the switch to the Russian educational systems means that Ukranians in Russian occupied territories will no longer learn "Ukranian government sanctioned" history:

At the same time, the occupation authorities put pressure on educators and school managers to resume work and switch to teaching in Russian and according to Russian standards and textbooks. There is evidence of mandatory retraining for educators who have been deported to Crimea or Russia in order to make them teach in Russian in the future. There are also testimonies of threats against educators and their families in case they refuse to collaborate.

... Russia intends to introduce forced teaching of Russian for the deported people. Lilia Humerova, the head of the science, education and culture committee of the Federation Council of Russia, said that it was a problem that the deported Ukrainian children do not speak Russian “at a sufficient level,” which will prevent them from mastering the Russian education curriculum. According to her, there is a plan to organize summer language courses for these children. There was no mention of whether attendance of these courses would be voluntary.

... In the occupied Crimea ... Ukrainian Literature and History of Ukraine were also removed from the curriculum. In addition, the education system switched from the 12-grade system of evaluation to the 5-grade system. Ukrainian textbooks were removed from use and Russian textbooks were introduced instead. History of Ukraine was replaced in the occupied peninsula with History of Russia taught according to the unified textbooks approved in Russia. 10,500 people graduated from high school in Crimea in 2021.

Higher education was also transformed in Crimea. In particular, the Vernadsky Federal University of Crimea was established in Simferopol in 2014 by merging 7 universities and 7 research institutions; the same year, the Sevastopol State University was also established by merging 7 universities. The curricula switched to Russian standards, and the graduates started receiving diplomas according to Russian state regulations.

(Source: Education in the occupied territories of Ukraine (February 24 – April 30, 2022)).

  • 1
    Your conclusion that "Ukranian and Crimean Tatar continue to be taught in annexed Crimea to those who want to learn it" seems to be immediately contradicted by your bolded statement that "the occupation authorities put pressure on educators and school managers to resume work and switch to teaching in Russian". I don't think a government promising access to something is a good indicator that they have actually done so; has anyone held them to account to actually implement this policy?
    – IMSoP
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 15:17
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    This doesn't appear to answer the question "How many Ukrainian language schools were still open in Crimea in 2021 compared to 2013?"
    – Aaron F
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 15:46
  • @IMSoP I will update my answer to clarify that my answer outlines Russia's language policy under Putin, which is - giving primacy to the Russian language, which includes emphasis on it as the medium of teaching all subjects (except obviously other languages). So students who wish to learn Ukranian and Crimean Tatar in public schools, can still do so if their parents desire it. But the schools will be predominantly Russian medium unless there is local demand.
    – sfxedit
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 17:34
  • @AaronF I couldn't find that data, and have instead given a broad outline of the Russian language policy under Putin. The reality is that It will totally depend on the local government. (Read my other comments).
    – sfxedit
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 17:36

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