The Retreat of the Tongue of the Czars

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IN a corner of Bukvatoriya, a bookstore here in the capital of the Crimean Peninsula, are some stacks of literature that may be as provocative to the Kremlin as any battalion of NATO soldiers or wily oligarch.

The books are classics — by Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare — that have been translated into Ukrainian, in editions aimed at teenagers. A Harry Potter who casts spells in Ukrainian also inhabits the shelves.

Two decades ago, there would have been little if any demand for such works, given that most people in this region are ethnic Russians. But the Ukrainian government is increasingly requiring that the Ukrainian language be used in all facets of society, especially schools, as it seeks to ensure that the next generation is oriented toward Kiev, not Moscow.

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