News / Europe

Ukraine’s Parliament Disputes Russian-Language Law

WBC Heavyweight Champion Vitali Klitschko, center in white t-shirt, talks to riot police at an opposition protest rally in front of the Ukrainian House in central Kiev, Ukraine, July 4, 2012.
WBC Heavyweight Champion Vitali Klitschko, center in white t-shirt, talks to riot police at an opposition protest rally in front of the Ukrainian House in central Kiev, Ukraine, July 4, 2012.
MOSCOW — Protesters clashed with police in Kyiv Tuesday after parliament approved the second and final reading of a bill that would make Russian a regional language in the mainly Russian regions of Ukraine. Ukraine’s speaker of parliament said he was resigning to protest the way the bill was pushed through.

If the bill becomes law, Russian would be used in courts, education and other government institutions in Russian speaking regions of Ukraine. Ukrainian would still be the official state language.

Many say the measure threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty after 20 years of independence from the former Soviet Union.

Hundreds of people protested against the bill in the center of the capital Kyiv, many saying the action of parliament would phase the Ukrainian language out of existence.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s parliament approved the bill minutes after a surprise proposal by one of the leaders of the majority Party of Regions, giving those against the bill little time to cast their ballots.

Opposition leaders tried to physically stop the parliament speaker from announcing the vote.   Scuffles soon broke out. Andry Shevchenk, a parliamentary deputy with the opposition Yulia Tymoshenko Party, says he tried to stay to cast his vote.

"We tried to stay here [but] the police just came and tried to push us out from the stairs," he said. "They have several commanders coordinating their action, and they deployed a special police unit in riot helmets. They have orders to throw people from the stairs. It's their task."

International boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Udar opposition party, says the vote was not fair.

"If parliament is doing everything against the opinion of the people, then it has no place as a parliament," said Klitschko. The majority of deputies are not in the parliament chamber, he added, and "there is manipulation of votes going on."

Protesters against the bill urged Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich to veto the measure that was rushed through parliament by the majority. As a result, Yanukovich called an urgent meeting with Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Lytvyn later announced his resignation because the bill was passed.

"They tricked us as if we were kittens, and they have, first of all, tricked me," he said. "But on a larger scale they have tricked Ukraine, they have tricked the people, and I think that the fruits of this trickery will be [with us] for much more time to come. Under such circumstances, I ask you to consider and accept my resignation."

Yanukovich says that an early parliamentary election may be called if the crisis over the contentious passing of the law persists.

Regular elections are scheduled for October.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nickolay from: Ukraine
July 05, 2012 5:20 AM
There will be nothing good in Ukraine while Yanukovich and his bandit party of regions are ruling our country

In Response

by: Susan from: UK
July 11, 2012 4:42 AM
Soon Ukraine is going to face elections.As to elections, great problem indeed exists in Uman district (the biggest district in Cherkassy region). This region is of vital importance for the pro-government authorities, that`s why administrative resourses are expected to be involved in a full scope. Recently the pressure on the constituency began and the bribe of the voters by authoritative political party takes place. E.g nominee from Party of Regions Khrohmal was replaced by candidate- betrayer Yatsenko, who once was in Verkhovna Rada and had a possibility to show he is capable to nothing so he can`t be elected deliberately. That`s why massive fraud and various violations of the law in order to support pro-government candidate are expected. Elections will be held at the county fair only in case of presence of foreign observers, as in Ukraine, unfortunately, all Ukrainian is purchased and Ukrainian observers too(((((((((

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid