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Ukrainians Protest Language Bill

A protester in front of the Ukrainian parliament today

A protester in front of the Ukrainian parliament today

KYIV -- About 200 people picketed the Ukrainian parliament building today to protest a language bill they say would boost the status of Russian at the expense of Ukrainian, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The protesters demanded the bill be removed from the parliament's agenda for this week.

The demonstrators beat drums and buckets and chanted: "Deal with real issues, not with language!" "One language -- one country!" and "Single state language!"

Two well-known Ukrainian writers, the brothers Vitaliy and Dmytro Kapranov, were among the protesters. They vowed to continue picketing the parliament until deputies ditch the draft law.

The draft legislation was introduced last month by Oleksandr Efremov, chairman of the presidential Party of Regions' faction, Communist Party faction leader Petro Symonenko, and Lytvyn Bloc member Serhiy Hrynevetsky.

The draft proposes "the equal development of the Russian the majority of Ukraine's population uses it."

The draft law also lauds bilingualism and proposes guaranteeing the right to choose whether to receive education in Russian or Ukrainian.

Ukrainian is currently the only state language in Ukraine.