THE LANGUAGE BATTLE - DAY 3

05.07.12


Mova3

It has been a day of continuing protests by the people against the language bill, and confusion in Parliament.

Civil activists in towns and cities around Ukraine have been organising demonstrations and writing letters of protest. The demonstration in Kyiv is in its third day and, although fewer people are out on the streets, the plan is still to continue. City Councils, including Lviv, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk, Volyn, Kharkiv and Lutsk amongst many others have written letters which demand that President Yanukovych veto the bill, while some have called for him to be impeached and for the current Verkhovna Rada to be dissolved on the grounds it has lost its lawmaking credibility. Lutsk has called for the two authors of the language bill, Serhiy Kivalov and Vadym Kolesnichenko, to be stripped of their Ukrainian citizenship. In Zaporizha, one protester has chained himself to the railings of the Administrative Centre, while protestors in Lviv have blocked four major roads that cross the border.

Click here for a round-up of the protests taking place.

On the political front, its been a day of confusion. Early today, 11 MPs, including 4 from the Party of the Regions asked for their votes in favour of the bill to be withdrawn, while 3 other MPs asked for their votes to be counted - after the event. Further confusion has arisen from the resignation yesterday of Volodymyr Lytvyn as Chairman (Speaker) of Verkhovna Rada. Although his resignation has been formally received, it has not yet gone through the process of acceptance. Political commentators say that although it would be easy enough to get the number of votes needed to ratify the resignation (226), 300 votes will be needed to elect a new speaker and it is unlikely that any candidate or party grouping could muster that number. This leaves Verkhovna Rada in limbo, with Lytvyn still, de facto, Speaker, but taking no part in any parliamentary activity. The latest report is that he is ill.

Yuliya Tymoshenko today issued a statement, in which she said that President Yanukovych had declared war on an independent Ukraine. " They can throw civil society and the opposition behind bars, but it is impossible to imprison the Ukrainian language and culture."

Hanna Herman, one of President Yanukovych's closest advisers, in an interview with Unian gave an assurance that the President would not allow the language bill to undermine the constitution and repeated that he would not take any decision without careful consideration and the advice of experts. She did not rule out a Presidential veto, but then gave a reminder that 50% of people in Ukraine speak Russian.

Musicians and novelists have been giving their views on the language bill. You can read their views here, but this is just a flavour of what they are saying:

Irena Karpa "Many of my Russian-speaking friends are now speaking Ukrainian as a matter of principle and in protest at the bill..."

Fozzy (Oleksandr Sydorenko) "There is a soviet way of thinking and a Ukrainian way of thinking. Those who support the bill want everything to go back to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic"

Nina Matviyenko "There should be massive protests, because how long can we be silent? This is an event which will cause an explosion of anger - and most of all amonst young people"



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