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Ukrainian Region Defies President On Russian Language

(RFE/RL) April 29, 2006 -- In Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv Oblast, lawmakers today voted to examine the expendiency of granting Russian the status of official regional language.

Kharkiv Oblast Council Chairman Vasil Saligyn said the issue would be discussed during the legislature's next session, possibly after May 15.

The announcement followed reports that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko asked the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office to look into the legality of similar decisons made recently by other regions.

Lawmakers in the eastern oblast of Luhansk and the Crimean city of Sevastopol, which have both predominantly Russian-speaking populations, earlier this month declared Russian a regional language.

Making Russian Ukraine's second official language was one of the main campaign themes of the Party of Regions, the pro-Russian political grouping that won the most votes in last month's parliamentary elections.

(Obkom, "Ukraiynska pravda")

Torn Between East And West

Torn Between East And West

Yushchenko (center) with Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin (left), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (rear), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (AFP file photo)

IN WHOSE ORBIT? Just over a year ago, tens of thousands of Ukrainians led an extended public uprising that toppled the country's entrenched, pro-Russia regime. But the country remains deeply divided between the east, where ethnic Russians look toward Moscow, and the west, which yearns for deeper integration with Europe. Can Ukraine elect a legislature that represents this torn country? (more)

See also:

Moscow Silent In The Run-Up To Ukraine's Elections

Is Kyiv On Stable Path Toward Integration With World Economy?

Western Neighbors Keen To Help Transition To Democracy

Click on the image for background and archived articles about Ukraine's March 26 elections.

Click on the image to see RFE/RL's coverage of the Ukrainian elections in Ukrainian.

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