Demand for official place name switch from Russian to Ukrainian

A long list of people who use the Latvian language for a living have written an open letter to the State Language Center (Valsts valodas centrs, VVC) requesting that the official policy of using Latvian transliterations of Russian versions of Ukrainian place names be reversed.

Latvian transliteration of Kyiv

More than 100 translators, writers, poets, journalists and others are signatories of the letter, which points out that while Russia continues its attacks in Ukraine, news reports and official communiques in Latvian still use the Russian versions of place names (e.g. Kijeva for Kyiv, Ļvova for Lviv and Harkova for Kharkiv).

"Cities have Russified names in Latvian. We invite the State Language Center to review its recommendations!" the letter says, before giving a detailed history of the origin of such conventions when both Latvia and Ukraine were dominated by Russia and then the Soviet Union. 
 
"It should be high time we realized the impact of Russia's colonial policy on us – in calling the capital of Ukraine "Kiev", we are on the side of the colonizer, the occupier and the invader. Ukrainians are currently fighting for Kyiv, which is being fired upon by those who will always call it "Kiev"," the letter says, offering up considerable historical and linguistic arguments to change the accepted usage.

"At a time when Ukrainians are defending these cities with their blood, we call on the State Language Center to urgently change the recommendations!" the letter says.

As well as being an advisory body, the State Language Center has the power to levy fines for improper use of language. Technically speaking, journalists, municipal officials and others are risking potential penalties if they unilaterally make the switch to Latvian transliteration of Ukrainian spellings instead of the "approved" place names.   

You can read the VVC's official list of country and capital city place names in Latvian here.

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