Kyiv, June 22 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Oleksandr Yefremov, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the Regions Party in the Ukrainian parliament, has suggested that the idea that the Russian language be granted official status in Ukraine could not only be considered by the Constitutional Assembly but could also be put up for a referendum.
“If this legislation [on language policy principles] is adopted and the people in our country feel that they don’t have any problems with self-expression, I think the approaches toward treating this issue will be absolutely different. If this legislation is not adopted […], this issue could be submitted to the Constitutional Assembly for consideration. In the big perspective, I do not rule out that a lot of issues that society accepts and the parliamentarians don’t could be put up for a referendum,” Yefremov said at a news conference on Friday.
The parties will either reach a compromise on the language issue, or “we will follow the path that our voters have declared to us,” he said.
On June 5, the Verkhovna Rada adopted in the first reading a bill on foundations of a state language policy initiated by the Regions Party. The bill elevates the status of the Russian language and the languages of other ethnic minorities in areas where at least 10% or more people use them as native ones.
The opposition considers the bill anti-Ukrainian. Oles Doniy, a member of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense faction said, “If this bill becomes a law, we can forget about the Ukrainian language in cities, because, under the guise of liberalism, humanism, and democratization, an idea is being clearly promoted that the [Ukrainian] language is not mandatory in universities, or on television, or in cities where there are at least 10% of people considering Russian their native language.”
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