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You're reading: Russian language debate splits Ukraine
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The language of Ukraine’s former Soviet overlord dominates the city of 1 million – nearly half of them ethnic Russians – where a statue of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin still graces the main square two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Famous for its coal mines, steel smelters and bloody gang wars of the 1990s, the home city of President Viktor Yanukovich has welcomed a move by his Regions party to restore Russian as the language for official business in Ukraine’s east and south.

“Canada has two state languages, Switzerland has four, I think this is the right approach,” said Volodymyr, a retired mining communications engineer who complained that translating technical documents into Ukrainian was a waste of time.

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