Brookings: What Ukraine’s new language law means for national unity

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Aug. 22, 2012, 5:10 p.m. | Op-ed — by Steven Pifer and Hannah Thoburn

Deputies of the Ukrainian opposition fight with deputies of the pro-presidential majority during a session of parliament in Kyiv, as opposition parties protest a bill proposed by the ruling party which would make Russian an official state language along with Ukrainian on May 24, 2012.

Dyakuyu or Spasibo? The controversy over whether Russian should be recognized as an official language of Ukraine is so heated that it has compelled Ukrainian politicians to tear each other’s clothes, flip parliamentarians over bannisters, and recently provoked the speaker of parliament to tender his resignation.

On August 8, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a new law, “On the principles of language politics,” that allows cities and regions to pass legislation that would give Russian (or any other minority tongue) the status of an official language if 10 percent or more of the population of that region speaks it as a native tongue.

Read more here.

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