Ukraine debates status of Russian language

In Ukraine, they take their languages very seriously.

A parliamentary debate descended into fisticuffs last week when lawmakers debated the country’s official language policy. The state language is Ukrainian, which is spoken by people predominantly in the centre and the west. It’s been proposed that Russian is elevated to a second language, equal to Ukrainian. Russian is the native language of people in the east and south of the country, including the capital Kiev.

Fists flew among deputies in parliament Thursday, and a crowd of about 150 people rallied Friday outside the parliament building, many of them bearing slogans in defense of Ukrainian.

“Nobody is threatening the Russian language. It is Ukrainian that has to be saved,” said Yarema Goyan, a writer, who was one of those protesting. “This is no joke. Yesterday there were fights in the parliament, but tomorrow there will be fights on the streets.”

Opponents of the move regard use of Ukrainian as a touchstone of sovereignty and say a growing encroachment of Russian will only keep Ukraine in Russia’s sphere of influence. (Source: The Moscow Times)

If only all lawmakers could be so passionate about their subject!