Pro Russian-Language Bill Passes In Ukrainian Parliament
Thousands of Ukrainians took it to the streets of Kiev on Tuesday, as the Russian-language supporting bill passed in the parliament of the country, offering the opportunity to the Russian-speaking population of the country, up to some 17 million, according to the estimation of pro-Russian surveyors, much less according to Ukrainian censuses, to use their language in the state.
The Rada passed the bill by 234 out of 450 votes, opening the way for Russian language to become the second official language in Ukraine, especially in the eastern and southern provinces of the country. The vote was preceded by demonstrations in front of the parliament building, but the Russian-language supporters occupied the places closest to the building so that those who opposed it be kept at distance. Police is said by a Voice of America local correspondent to have helped those who support the law, while keeping the pro-Ukrainian people away.
Clashes erupted between the police and the people in a city which is expected to open the Euro 2012 soccer tournament in a few days. Violence occurred on the floor of the parliament last week, when the representatives scuffled in an attempt to close the debate on the law. On that occasion they threatened to close the parliament until after the general elections, scheduled later in the year.
The Ukrainian members of conservative Fatherland party, which promotes Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister which is now in prison serving a seven-year sentence, charged that the Regions party, of the president Viktor Yanukovych, is using this bill to promote its electoral agenda, given that it dropped in the public approval.
The president Yanukovych is a supporter of the law and his party colleagues say they are only answering the call of their constituents who want their language to be recognized in the communities where they live.
The Ukrainian-language supporters fear that the adoption of Russian language as regional language will threaten the independence of Ukraine from Russia and will even undermine the stability and unity of the country, because the Russian-speaking population lives in compact areas near the border with Russia.11