Ukraine parliament to reconvene, language bill in focus

KIEV Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:36am EDT

Opposition supporters rest under the shade as they take part in a rally against a new Russian language bill passed by the parliament in Kiev July 6, 2012. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Opposition supporters rest under the shade as they take part in a rally against a new Russian language bill passed by the parliament in Kiev July 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament will reconvene for an extra session on Monday, the chamber said, in a move which could lead to a contentious bill to make Russian the official language in parts of the former Soviet republic being signed into law.

President Viktor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions rushed the bill through parliament this month using a procedural trick, in what opponents saw as an attempt to rally public support in Russian-speaking regions ahead of an October parliamentary election. [ID:nL6E8I54U5]

But the move backfired as hundreds of protesters poured on to the streets of Kiev and clashed with riot police.

Parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn refused to sign the bill, a step needed before Yanukovich could sign it into law. The chamber then went into recess until September.

At the extra session, announced late on Thursday, the Party of the Regions will have another opportunity to get Lytvyn to sign the bill, or parliament - dominated by Yanukovich's party and their allies - could elect a new speaker.

Yanukovich has not said whether he would sign the bill into law.

While Ukrainian is the only state language, the bill would make Russian an official regional language in predominantly Russian-speaking areas in the industrialized east and southern regions such as Crimea where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based.

On Friday, opponents of the bill staged small protests in several cities wearing Guy Fawkes masks, Ukrainian media said.

In Ivano-Frankivsk, demonstrators tried to put a sign reading "Office of the traitors of Ukraine's interests" next to the local Party of the Regions office, but were stopped by party officials, Interfax news agency said.

Activists, who say the bill is a ploy to win back voters in areas alienated by the cash-strapped government's economic policies, have threatened to stage further protests if it becomes law.

Knut Vollebaek, the head of minorities' rights at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, urged Ukraine this week to seek compromise on the issue rather than pass the bill in its current form.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Comments (1)
Neil_McGowan wrote:

This is just more unwarranted interference in Ukraine’s affairs by New World Order whackjobs from the OSCE. Can this Norwegian meddler Vollebaek speak a word of either Ukrainian or Russian? Can he even tell one language from the other?

My Russian wife and I go to Kiev frequently on business, and when we are there we speak Russian, and everyone else speaks Russian too. Because in Kiev Russian IS the first language of the majority of the population. Crimea was never a historic part of Ukraine in any case, and only got welded into Ukraine due to a drunken meeting once held by Brezhnev – when he announced the ‘decision’ at 5am in a vodka-addled haze.

When I was in Kiev again last month, I asked the (Ukrainian) hotel receptionist where the nearest ATM was. “At the end of the street, turn left, and 100m on the left”. But when I got there, it was a completely different street. I returned to the hotel to query this, and she said “Oh yes, we have to call the street that because the nuts in W Ukraine insisted on changing the name. We have to put up with their idiocy”.

New World Order know-nothing rent-a-gobs are very keen that each country should speak the language THEY insist on – Germans must speak German, Austrians must speak Austrian, and in Switzerland they must speak Swiss. So in Ukraine, they *must* speak Ukrainian! It’s all part of discrediting Russia internationally – a part of the Plan For The New American Century, and enthusiastically promoted by Shillary Clinton, Anders Foggy Rasmussen, Knut Vollebaek (maybe he should be called Knut Halvbaek?) and the rest of Council on Foreign Relations.

Next month we’re going on holiday to Ukraine – it’s a lovely country and we like it there. We’re going to a health spa in the Carpathian Mountains – not far from Ivano-Frankivsk, in fact. I’ve sorted the whole thing out with them by phone – in Russian.

Jul 29, 2012 9:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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