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      Russian Upgraded In Ukraine's Russian Speaking Regions

      The quick passage of a language law upgrading the status of Russian in the Ukraine has the opposition up in arms.
      By Amiel Ungar
      First Publish: 7/6/2012, 8:15 AM

      Protestor Out of Place
      Protestor Out of Place
      Reuters

      Next week Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will be meeting with Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, has just provided Yanukovych with a present in advance to present Putin at the meeting.

      The majority pulled a parliamentary fast one on the opposition by passing a controversial language law - after having promised to delay deliberations to the end of the month. While the bill leaves the status of Ukrainian intact as the only state language, it effectively promotes bilingualism by allowing the use of Russian in Russian-speaking regions in courts, education and other government institutions.

      Ukrainian nationalists argue that this means that Russo-phones will never have to learn Ukrainian.

      Putin intimate Sergei Ivanov announced his satisfaction with the current state of relations yesterday in Kyiv.

      "The fact that our presidents will meet is also a positive factor and concrete things related to the improvement of Russian-Ukrainian relations in all spheres: economic, political and public spheres …Last week we signed government documents, and today we also had a separate meeting with [Ukrainian Prime Minister] Mykola Yanovych [Azarov] on economic issues.

      Yanukovych claimed that as president he would not sign the bill without scrutinizing it in depth and sounding out expert opinion. Yet it is extremely unlikely that the law would have been rushed through the Rada without a tacit OK from the president.

      The Speaker of Parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn, resigned in protest.

      The passage of the law has managed to galvanize opposition. Yesterday, demonstrators gathered in central Kiev only to be met by riot police. This soured the self-congratulatory atmosphere following the successful European football championship that Ukraine cohosted with Poland.

      Volodymyr Oliynyk of the Regions Party parliamentary faction, the party of Yanukovych, was contemptuous of the demonstrators.

      "The opposition has once again revealed their true colors. Most of those who have gathered there are neither for the Ukrainian language, nor for the Ukrainian people…They acted like vandals and damaged the TV cables to disrupt the broadcast of the president's press conference…. Now they will self-inflict bruises and start yelling in front of the world that they were beaten up."