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 Deutsche Welle: Ukraine Has Changed In Two Weeks More than in Twenty Years.

The thing that politicians talked about for 20 years has happened. In the east and south of the country the Russian language received the regional status. The ruling Party of Regions hopes that the new law will help it to win the elections.

The article in Deutsche Welle expresses an opinion that Ukraine has recently changed. The country which celebrated its 21st Independence anniversary on Friday has changed more in two weeks of August 2012 than in two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Starting from Odessa, regional and city councils in the south and east of Ukraine have one after another adopted decisions to acknowledge Russian as a regional language. Kherson, Nikolayev, Sevastopol, Krasnyy Luch, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov - residents of these cities and regions can now fill out official paperwork not in the official Ukrainian language but in Russian. The officials can do the same, too.

The regional languages bill was passed by the Parliament and came into effect on 10 August. It provides the opportunity for bilingualism in the regions of Ukraine where the share of the national minority exceeds 10 percent of the population. Opposition and intelligentsia protests in Kiev and several other cities have not kept President Yanukovych from signing the law.

There were no mass protests. Only in the West the Ivano-Frankovsk oblast council has announced Thursday, 23 August, that the language law will not be executed and the Ukrainian language will remain the only language in documentation management.

The need to introduce Russian as the second official language has been discussed by Ukrainian politicians since the proclamation of Independence. But it never went beyond talking. None of Yanukovych's three predecessors has risked it. Leonid Kuchma who had been the head of state for 10 years criticizes the current authorities' decision. "This law does not work in favor of the national idea and independence of the Ukrainian state", said Kuchma.

Yanukovych himself has acknowledged that the law is imperfect and promised amendments. The President's advisor Anna German declared that it will be done as early as September and the bar for the regional languages may be raised from 10 to 20 or 30 percent.

 
 
 
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