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Controversial 'Native Languages' Bill Passes Hurdle In Russia

Residents of Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, rally against a draft Russian law on "native languages" in May.

The Russian State Duma has approved in its final reading a bill on the teaching of "native languages" in schools that has angered representatives of many of the country's ethnic minorities.

The bill approved on July 25 cancels the mandatory teaching of indigenous languages in Russia's so-called ethnic regions and republics, where non-Russian ethnic groups are well-represented.

President Vladimir Putin, responding to complaints from ethnic Russians living in these regions, said last year that children should not be compelled to study languages that are not their mother tongues.

Putin's instruction led to the abolition of mandatory indigenous-language classes in the regions, which prompted protests in parts of Russia's North Caucasus, the Volga region, Siberia, and the Far East, where local languages have official status alongside Russian.

The bill now proceeds to the upper chamber of parliament, the Federation Council.

If it is approved there, it will go on to Putin for signing before becoming law.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax