The Ukrainian Sign Language Interpreter who became a Hero

It was on this date, Nov. 24, in 2004, when sign language interpreter Nataliya Dmytruk refused to translate the official script during a live broadcast on Ukrainian state-run TV.



Dmytruk was supposed to announce that Viktor Yanukovych was the winner of the presidential election. Instead, she told viewers:

"I am addressing everybody who is deaf in Ukraine. Our president is Viktor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies. And I am very ashamed to translate such lies to you. Maybe you will see me again."

The Washington Post interviewed her in 2005 when she visited Gallaudet University to talk about her story.

"I was observing it from both sides, and I had a very negative feeling. After every broadcast I had to render in sign language, I felt dirty. I wanted to wash my hands. I was sure I would tell people the truth that day. I just felt this was the moment to do it."

Her act of defiance led other journalists to do the same. Eventually, a run-off reversed the election results.


Dmytruk was raised by deaf parents and met with President George W. Bush in 2005 at the Champions of Freedom gala in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. All sign-language services were removed from the newscasts by new management after the controversy. Dmytruk resigned after an extensive leave.