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Ukrainian Parliament Deputy Says State Language 'Under Pressure'

People in Donetsk protest against closure of a school with education in Ukrainian.
A Ukrainian parliament deputy from the ruling party said today on International Day of the Mother Tongue that the Ukrainian language "remains under pressure," RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Vitaliy Zablotskyy told RFE/RL that in recent months the opportunities for parents to send their children to schools using Ukrainian as the language of instruction have narrowed, especially in the eastern part of the country where linguistic Russification is more prevalent.

"Some of my colleagues say that freedom of choice should be taken into account when choosing schools for children, but if the number of schools in Ukrainian is limited it means the choices are limited too," Zablotskyy said.

Zablotskyy is a member of President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

In the last several months, some Ukrainian-language schools have been closed in the eastern part of the country. Parents in Luhansk have resorted to hunger strikes to defend their children's right to an education in Ukrainian.

Several towns and cities in Ukraine are marking the day by holding special events at schools, universities, and writers' organizations.

Ukrainian is the state language of the country, but Russian is widely spoken, particularly in eastern and southern Ukraine. Ukrainian language predominates in western and central parts of the country.

Read more in Ukrainian here