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Ukrainian Stations Slam Russian-Language Broadcast Ban

Kyiv, 15 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian television stations today criticized a government order that effectively bans the use of the Russian language on all national television and radio broadcasts.

Oleksandr Bohutskiy, general director of the ICTV private television channel, said he understands the desire to promote the use of the Ukrainian language. But he said the issue should be dealt with carefully, as most Ukrainians understand and speak Russian.

His comments followed an order yesterday by Ukraine's broadcasting body that all national television and radio broadcasts be in Ukrainian, effectively banning nationwide broadcasts in Russian.

A spokesman for the country's audiovisual council, Mykola Hrytsenko, said the decision obliges all nationwide broadcasting outlets to start from 19 April to gradually change all their programs to Ukrainian.

Hrytsenko said that regulations permit local television and radio stations to broadcast in languages other than Ukrainian when they can show that they have minority audiences.

A number of television and radio stations broadcast in Russian to the Russian-speaking population, which is concentrated in eastern Ukraine and in other regions bordering Russia.