Experts to say if Ukraine's languages law in line with European treaty

Experts will try to find out whether Ukraine's controversial draft law to allow more extensive use of the Russian language is in tune with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, a treaty overseen by the Council of Europe, President Viktor Yanukovych has announced.

"I'm sure that we must look at global practice," a statement from the president's office quoted Yanukovych as saying at a meeting in Ukraine's Crimea region with the Club of Editors in Chief of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Baltic Countries and Georgia.

Yanukovych claimed that language is a politicized issue in Ukraine, that ordinary people have no problems with the use of the Russian and Ukrainian languages, and that it is politicians who "fan passions of some kind" over it all the time.

"For this reason, the best guideline in this issue is the European Charter for Languages. Experts are to say how much this law conforms to this charter, its standards," he said.

"The lawmakers who have initiated this law assure me that it has been tested at the Venice Commission. We'll see if this is the case. This process is underway right now. It will enable us to find the solution that will make it possible to take the language issue off the agenda for a long time," the president said.

The July 3 vote in parliament that approved the draft law provoked an immediate protest demonstration in central Kiev that brought together about 700 people.

Parliament chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn refused to sign the bill, which means the president cannot sign it into law. Moreover, Lytvyn and his deputy Mykola Tomenko handed their resignations, but the legislature refused to let them go.

On July 7, Yanukovych instructed the government to draft amendments to the bill, said his representative in parliament, parliamentary deputy Yury Myroshnychenko.

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