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The fall of the Soviet empire and the transition to democracy that has taken place in Central and Eastern Europe (and elsewhere) during the past three decades has focused new attention on both the processes of, and the issues involved in, democratic institution building. These experiences have shown that issues of linguistic and ethnic difference are often key elements in such matters. Ukraine, a country of considerable strategic importance, has struggled with both the transition to democracy and the relative roles of the Ukrainian and Russian languages in the task of nation-state building. This article examines the emergence of linguistic conflicts in Ukrainian government and public policy and explores, through a survey of higher education institutions, its impact on the preparation of the next generation of the nation's public administrators. The article concludes by explaining why the impact of this politically divisive issue has been more modest than might have been expected.