Zelenskyy signs law on use of English in Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a law officially establishing English as a language of international communication in Ukraine.

Source: Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) website

Details: English will now have official status in Ukraine. The law includes a list of positions requiring fluency in English. Proficiency in English will be mandatory for:

  • Heads of local state administrations
  • Military officers
  • Prosecutors
  • Tax officials
  • Customs officers
  • Heads and teaching staff at institutes of higher education and scientific institutions
  • Heads of healthcare institutions

The draft law also addresses the use of English by state and local government bodies, emergency services, during state border crossings, and in areas such as education, culture, transport, and healthcare.

Civil servants who speak English will receive a 10% bonus on top of their salary.

Additionally, public funding will be provided for cinemas to screen English-language films. This means the government will financially support cinemas that show films in their original language.

 22-year-old Ukrainian soldier who swam across gulf to get to Azovstal returns from Russian captivity 

Vitalii Senchenko returns from Russian captivity now with his mother

On June 25, 90 Ukrainian defenders returned from Russian captivity. Among them was Vitalii Senchenko, a National Guard soldier from Kryvyi Rih who defended Mariupol in the spring of 2022 and was taken prisoner by the Russians while leaving the Azovstal steel plant.

His mother, Oksana Latanska, founder of the NGO Steel Guard, confirmed his return from captivity.

"Mum! I'm home, I'm in Ukraine! I’ve dreamed of hearing these words for so long!" Latanska said. "Hoping, believing, waiting, preparing. But still, they came as a surprise. Two years, one month, and one week of enemy captivity after 86 hellish days defending Mariupol."

Latanska said she would be reunited with her son on June 26. Vitalii Senchenko had been serving in the Kryvyi Rih brigade of the National Guard under contract since September 2021. When the full-scale invasion began, he was on a routine rotation in Mariupol.

Latanska recalls contacting her son on February 24, 2022. He initially thought the outbreak of conflict with Russia was localized.

"They had no way to follow the news there because there was already fighting going on. But it seemed to them that it was an escalation of the conflict in Donbas. They didn't know about Hostomel, Chernihiv, Sumy Oblast, or the [Russians’] attempt to break through to Kyiv. They didn't know until later on that Kryvyi Rih was hit on the first day of the war. And it was an additional shock for them that it [the combat action] wasn’t just there [in Donbas]: it was everywhere. But then all hell broke loose for them," Latanska said.

In April 2022, Vitalii swam across the Taganrog Gulf to reach Azovstal and defend it.

"I remember how I had my phone in my hands the whole time, waiting for at least a short message, at least one word: 'Alive.' And then my son's phone stopped working. ‘The number you are calling is out of range’... After a week of uncertainty, I received a message from my son from an unknown number. I still pray for the guy whose phone these messages came from, and I believe he is alive," the soldier's mother wrote on Facebook.

Vitalii, along with other Ukrainian defenders, was taken prisoner by the Russians when they left Azovstal on the orders of the Ukrainian command.

After leaving Mariupol, he spent more than two years in Russian prisons. He returned home along with 17 other residents of Kryvyi Rih.

This is the 53rd prisoner swap since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. A total of 3,300 Ukrainians have been released to date.

Mariana Mamonova, a Mariupol defender who was imprisoned by the Russians while pregnant and released on September 22, 2022, has established her own humanitarian foundation.

Ukraine hands over to Russia one of the Russian-linked church priests as part of a recent prisoner swap

As part of the latest prisoner of war swap on June 25, Metropolitan Ionafan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), who had been convicted in Ukraine for justifying Russian armed aggression, was sent to Russia. He has already met with Patriarch Vladimir Gundyaev (Kirill) of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

Details of the swap were confirmed by Andrii Kovaliov, the official representative of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He stated that Metropolitan Ionafan was included in the exchange and had agreed to it on April 10.

The Russian Orthodox Church reported that the 75-year-old Metropolitan Ionafan was released on June 22 "at the request of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus as a result of negotiations."

After his release, Patriarch Kirill met with Ionafan and awarded him the Church Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh, first class. Although the ROC had announced the award at the end of January 2024, it was intended as a birthday present for Ionafan.