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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid