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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid