Constitution does not offer Russian status different from that of other languages, CC president

Some of the articles of the law on the functioning of the languages spoken on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, of December 16, 2020, underscores the dominant role of the Russian language all over Moldova in relation to the languages of other ethnic minorities, without mentioning the districts where its share is significant and the districts where its share is insignificant so that such strict legal obligations could be instituted, the president of the Constitutional Court Domnica Manole stated after the judgment by which the law was declared unconstitutional was pronounced, IPN reports.

“It should be noted that in the Republic of Moldova, the content of such a law has been a complex and sensitive issue that was periodically turned into a political subject. However, the Court is outside any political or electoral debate,” stated Domnica Manole.

She said the analysis started from Article 13 of the Constitution, under the interpretation of the Court’s judgment of December 5, 2013 under which Romanian is the official language in the Republic of Moldova. Romanian is stipulated as the official language of the state. The second paragraph of the same article provides that the state recognizes and protects the right to keep, develop and ensure the functioning of Russian and other languages spoken on the country’s territory. The Russian language in this constitutional text is given as an example and this does not offer this language in the Republic of Moldova a status different from that of other languages spoken in Moldova, such as Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian.

Domnica Manole noted that Article 13 of the Constitution stipulates only one official language and does not contain the phrase “language of interethnic communication”. The constitutional status of the official language implies the function of language of interethnic communication between the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, regardless of their ethnic origin.

By the challenged law, Russian benefits from preferential treatment regardless of the number of members of the ethnic minorities that use it in the country’s districts. The challenged law does not contain a stable, sustainable and clearly-defined linguistic policy, from the perspective of the constitutional requirements. The lack of such a policy prejudices the interest of society and prevents Parliament from fulfilling its positive obligation that derives from the Constitution.

The judgment is definite, takes effect when it is adopted and is published in the Official Gazette. The Court pronounced based on two challenges filed by MPs Octavian Țîcu, Dinu Plîngău and Maria Ciobanu. The decision is accompanied by a separate opinion of constitutional judge Vladimir Țurcan.

Two protests were mounted in front of the CC on January 21, while the constitutional court was examining the challenges. A group of people changed “Romanian is the only master!”, while the second group chanted slogans in support of the Russian language. The police formed a cordon between the protesters.

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