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Controversial Language Bill Signed By Ukraine's Parliament Speaker

The speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn (right), looks on as deputies scuffle during a session in the parliament chamber in Kyiv on May 24.
The Ukrainian parliament's press service has announced that a controversial language bill that gives Russian the status of "a regional language" in 13 of Ukraine's 27 regions has been signed by the speaker.

The law will come into effect now after President Viktor Yanukovych signs it.

Lawmakers approved the law on July 3.

Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn had refused to sign it and asked parliament to free him from his duties as part of a protest against the legislation.

Parliament rejected Lytvyn's request and four separate proposals from the opposition to amend the bill on July 30.

The bill's adoption led to scuffles among lawmakers and mass protests in Kyiv and other cities.

The law also gives the status of "regional language" to Crimean Tatar in Crimea, Romanian in the Chernivtsi region, and Hungarian in the Zakarpattya region.

Based on reporting by UNIAN and Interfax