Ukraine's parliament will reconvene for an extra session on Monday, the chamber said, in a move which could lead to a contentious bill to make Russian the official language in parts of the former Soviet republic being signed into law.
President Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions rushed
the bill through parliament this month using a procedural trick,
in what opponents saw as an attempt to rally public support in
Russian-speaking regions ahead of an October parliamentary
But the move backfired as hundreds of protesters poured on
to the streets of Kiev and clashed with riot police.
Parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn refused to sign the
bill, a step needed before Yanukovich could sign it into law.
The chamber then went into recess until September.
At the extra session, announced late on Thursday, the Party
of the Regions will have another opportunity to get Lytvyn to
sign the bill, or parliament – dominated by Yanukovich’s party
and their allies – could elect a new speaker.
Yanukovich has not said whether he would sign the bill into
While Ukrainian is the only state language, the bill would
make Russian an official regional language in predominantly
Russian-speaking areas in the industrialised east and southern
regions such as Crimea where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.
Activists, who say the bill is a ploy to win back voters in
areas alienated by the cash-strapped government’s economic
policies, have threatened to stage further protests if it
Knut Vollebaek, the head of minorities’ rights at the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, urged
Ukraine this week to seek compromise on the issue rather than
pass the bill in its current form.