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Thousands Of Ukrainians Protest Initial Approval Of Russian-Language Bill

Ukrainian Protesters Dispersed By Tear Gasi
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June 05, 2012
An RFE/RL correspondent says Ukrainian police have used tear gas to disperse protesters outside the country's parliament. The demonstrators were protesting against legislation that would make Russian an official language in some regions alongside Ukrainian. Security forces apparently released multiple cylinders of the gas, which produced a cloud that covered dozens of protesters and the police themselves. The Interior Ministry has denied the reports.

WATCH: Ukrainian language protesters dispersed by tear gas (RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau)

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
Thousands of protesters have demonstrated outside the Ukrainian parliament after lawmakers gave initial approval to legislation that would make Russian an official language in some regions alongside Ukrainian.

The bill was passed in the first of two readings on June 5 -- with 234 deputies in the 450-seat chamber voting in favor -- in the face of vehement protests by opposition lawmakers.

Following the vote, opposition factions vowed to set up a tent camp outside the legislature as part of a long-term protest against the measure.

A debate on the proposal last month led to a fistfight between lawmakers that left one deputy hospitalized.

Under the bill, Ukrainian would remain the only official language in the country, but Russian could be used in courts, hospitals, and other institutions in majority Russian-speaking regions in the eastern part of the country. 

With reporting by AP and UNIAN
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Comment Sorting
by: Idrian from: Surrey
June 05, 2012 23:09
I think some, if not most, readers won't understand what's all the fuss about this scuffle about language rights, with the thinking that Russian-speakers in Ukraine should have the right to access services in their language being prevalent among Anglophones. The people seen in the protests in the video will argue that, with gigantic Russia on the other fence, the issue of Russian as a second language is not just, if not entirely, an issue about language rights. At least that's my idea.

by: Rick from: Milan
June 06, 2012 00:50
his people protesting is simply composed of undemocratic fascist

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 06, 2012 19:46
Congratulations to all those who have been defending the rights of lignuistic minorities in Europe, be it in Belgium, Spain (Catalans, Basques and Gallegos), France (Basques, Bretons and Corsicans), the UK (speakers of the Gaelic language), here in Austria (the Slovenes), Italy (the German-speakers of South Tirol) - and not only here (the Quechua and Aymara speakers in Perú and Bolivia, the speakers of Indigenous languages in México etc etc etc)!
One more country's legislation has been brought into compliance with requirement of the common sense: if (at least) 40 per cent of the population of a country speak a minority language (and this is the (estimated) percentage of the native speakers of Russian in Ukraine) trying to prevent them from speaking their native language in their native country will just not be zielführend - any such attempt is doomed to fail, and that's what it just did in Ukraine.
Good job, Yunoukovich, please continue the Putinization course (as defined by the "Freedom" House)!

by: Wolodymyr from: USA
June 07, 2012 20:36
For centuries Moscow elite is trying to eliminate Ukrainian language, enslave, suppress and control its people. Their goal is to have ONE AND UNDIVIDED MOTHER RUSSIA and hold on to their empire. It is very sad that today many Ukrainian officials became turncoats to their country and are helping Russian elite in their cause.
In Response

by: John from: Canada
July 04, 2012 21:31
Wolodymyr correct!
There are many "sovereign" countries surrounding Russia that would love to be truly independent... you can see in the comments that their apologists are at work... to them, everyone is a Nazi, a Fascist, and anti-semitic... However the biggest collaborator's were them!
NOT Soviets - but Russians are occupiers in these countries since WW2 - true story! Russification must end! 17 percent of Siberia is Ukrainians from East Ukraine - shipped there by stalin after starving 10 million in 1932 - 33. Lets look at the NKVD files shall we?

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