By Ria Novosti
A brawl broke out in the Ukrainian Parliament on Thursday ahead of the consideration of a bill designed to expand the use of Russian language in the country, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
Prior to the beginning of the voting, opposition deputies burst into the building of the parliament and instigated a scuffle with members of the pro-presidential Party of Regions.
Parliamentary speaker Volodymir Litvin announced the end of the meeting.
The opposition has argued the bill would only aggravate relationship between Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking citizens. “We demand that the parliament does not discuss such a bill at all as this issue could split the society,” Vyacheslav Kirilenko, a deputy with the opposition party Our Ukraine – People’s Self-defense, addressed the gahering.
According various estimates, the Russian language is native to 30-50% of Ukrainians as both countries have deep historic links.
Under the Ukrainian constitution, Ukrainian is the only official state language in Ukraine. Before he was elected in 2010, President Viktor Yanukovych promised to make Russian the other official language but then did not achieve the required majority in parliament to get the bill through.