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Rally In Ukraine Against Bill On Language Usage

Man holding "cage with Ukrainian Films" during a protest against the new language bill
KYIV -- Some 500 scholars and members of public organizations have protested in Kyiv against a language bill they say would downgrade the status of the Ukrainian language, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

On October 4, demonstrators carried birdcages with Ukrainian-language textbooks inside and held signs saying: "The languages bill is a knife in Ukraine's heart," "My state language -- Ukrainian!" and "Time to resist."

The bill proposes that parliament regulate official-language usage in Ukraine.

The activists say it would reduce the status and role of the country's state language, Ukrainian, and increase the use of Russian.

The legislation was registered on September 7 by parliament deputies Oleksandr Efremov, chairman of the presidential Party of Regions' faction; Petro Symonenko, chairman of the Communist Party faction; and Lytvyn Bloc faction member Serhiy Hrynevetskyy.

Ukraine's constitution defines Ukrainian as the country's state language. The Russian language has no official status in Ukraine but is the dominant language in many large cities and in eastern provinces where most of Ukraine's ethnic Russians live.