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Ukrainian deputies put off Russian language debate till autumn

July 02, 2012, 20:39 UTC+3

The bill makes Russian a regional language in 13 out of 27 Ukrainian regions

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KIEV, July 2 (Itar-Tass) — The Ukrainian parliament has postponed the second reading of a bill on the Russian language status until autumn. The bill makes Russian a regional language in 13 out of 27 Ukrainian regions.

“We decided to refrain from voting for the bill on principles of state language policy this week,” the Ukrainian parliament Speaker Vladimir Litvin said.

“We are not duly prepared to discuss this matter which is a source of political controversy,” Litvin went on to say.

The speaker noted the parliament’s special-purpose committee had received more than 2,000 amendments.

“I think we made a mistake. We were too quick to start considering the bill. We ought to have created a working group and invited experts to work on this serious document in search of a political compromise,” Litvin emphasized.

The last plenary week of the current parliamentary session opens on Tuesday. The next autumn session will open in September. The Ukrainian parliament passed a bill on principles of state language policy in the first reading on June 5. According to the parliament’s secretariat, 234 deputies voted for the bill though the opposition put the number at 226, which is not enough for the bill to be approved.

On June 11, deputies from the Yulia Timoshenko bloc filed a lawsuit to Ukraine’s Supreme Administrative Court in which they urged it to consider the results of vote to be invalid and forbid the special-purpose committee to prepare the bill for the second reading. The court refused to start an action.

The bill preserves after the Ukrainian language its status of the only state language in Ukraine but expands the rights of languages spoken by the minorities. The document grants the language of minorities a special status in regions where a minority constitutes more than 10 percent of the region’s population.

At the same time, representatives of the ruling Party of Regions have said they will seek official recognition of the Russian language as the second state language in Ukraine.

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