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According to the Constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. Russian, which was the de facto official language of the Soviet Union, is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian. Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language.
It is sometimes difficult to determine the extent of the two languages. Many people use a Surzhyk (a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian where the Russian vocabulary is often combined with Ukrainian grammar and pronunciation) while claiming in surveys that they speak Russian or Ukrainian (though most can speak both literary languages). Some ethnic Ukrainians, while calling Ukrainian their native language, use Russian more frequently in their daily lives.
These details result in a significant difference across different survey results, as even a small restating of a question switches responses of a significant group of people. Ukrainian is mainly spoken in western and central Ukraine. In western Ukraine, Ukrainian is also the dominant language in cities (such as Lviv). In central Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian are both equally used in cities, with Russian being more common in Kiev, while Ukrainian is the dominant language in rural communities. In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is primarily used in cities, and Surzhyk is used in rural areas.
According to the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukrainian is the only state language of the republic. However, the republic's constitution specifically recognizes Russian as the language of the majority of its population and guarantees its usage 'in all spheres of public life'. Similarly, the Crimean Tatar language (the language of a sizable 12 percent minority of the republic) is guaranteed a special state protection as well as the 'languages of other ethnicities'. Russian speakers constitute an overwhelming majority of the Crimean population (77 percent), with Ukrainian speakers comprising just 10.1 percent, and Crimean Tatar speakers 11.4 percent.[108] But in everyday life the majority of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in Crimea use Russian.
Source:en.wikipedia.org
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