MOSCOW, July 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The State Duma welcomes the adoption of a Ukrainian bill on the state language policy fundamentals, which grants the regional language status to the Russian language.
“This step will bring closer together our fraternal peoples and facilitate the life of millions of our compatriots in Ukraine,” State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Relations with Compatriots Chairman Leonid Slutsky said.
“Russia has always been interested in the maximum high status of the Russian language which is spoken by millions of our compatriots in Ukraine,” he said, adding that the language question was “a purely sovereign affair of Ukraine.”
He welcomed the solution of the language problem with due account of the opinion of the Ukrainian population.
Now the official status of the Russian language will become “an additional impetus to Russia-Ukraine relations and integration processes on the post-Soviet space,”Slutsky said.
“All the Russian-speaking residents in at least half of Ukrainian regions have been awaiting a solution of the language problem. These regions need real changes as compared with today’s discriminated status of the Russian language,” the lawmaker said.
The Ukrainian ruling Party of Regions said it was satisfied with the Tuesday vote on a bill on the state language policy fundamentals. The bill was approved by 248 votes.
Opposition deputies had tried to block the adoption of the bill. They described the initiative of the Party of Regions as an election trick.
The bill was authored by deputies Sergei Kivalov and Vadim Kolesnichenko. Almost all members of the factions of the Party of Regions, the People’s Party and the Communist Party supported the document.
The Russian language receives the regional language status in 13 out of 27 Ukrainian regions. The bill reaffirms the status of the Ukrainian language as the only state language of the country but also broadens rights of languages of national minorities. For instance, the national minority language acquires a special status in the region, where the national minority constitutes over 10% of the total population.
If the bill is signed by the president, the Russian language will become the regional language in 13 out of 27 Ukrainian regions – Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Lugansk, Nikolayev, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Kherson, Chernigov, the Crimea, the cities of Kiev and Sevastopol. The Crimean Tatar language will be the regional language in the Crimea. The Hungarian language will become the regional language in the trans-Carpathian region, and the Romanian language will become the regional language in the Chernovtsy region. Other languages of traditional national minorities of Ukraine will be protected in lesser administrative territorial units.