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Ukrainian speaker suggests referendum on Russian language

January 03, 2013, 17:10 UTC+3
Opinion pollsters said 40 percent of the population call for giving the Russian language the state language status, 51 percent are opposed to it, while 8 percent are undecided
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KIEV, January 3 (Itar-Tass) — Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Vladimir Rybak called for holding a referendum on the status of the Russian language, saying the issue required careful study.

"There is the Constitution which says Ukrainian is the only state language. Let's observe the Constitution. The Russian language is not a language of national minorities; it is spoken by half of the population; we have to make a decision," the press service of Verkhovnaya Rada /parliament/ quoted him as saying.

"Specialists, scientists, and public organizations need to discuss the problem. There will be questions to be considered over and over again," Rybak said, adding that "if there is no understanding or results, some issues must be put up for a referendum, including the language issue. Perhaps, we'll have to ask the people about the Russian language; but it is Verkhovnaya Rada that should pass amendments to the Constitution."

On August 10, 2012, the law on the basic principles of the state language policy came into effect in Ukraine. Under the document, the Russian language was granted the regional status in the provinces where it is native for at least 10 percent of the population, i.e. in 13 of the country's 27 provinces.

The law drew controversial responses. The Opposition demanded its annulment. Opinion pollsters said 40 percent of the population call for giving the Russian language the state language status, 51 percent are opposed to it, while 8 percent are undecided. The opinion poll was conducted by the Rating group in late 2012.

Sociologists believe the recent raising of the Russian language status in certain provinces was a negative move for the idea to grant it the state language status across the country.

Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov earlier stated the authorities would not revise the law: "It is our decision on the language; strategically, it will not be reversed."

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