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About 40 members of an ethnic Russian movement protested outside the Crimean office of the Ukrainian broadcasting authority over alleged suppression of the Russian language
About 40 members of an ethnic Russian movement protested outside the Crimean office of the Ukrainian broadcasting authority over alleged suppression of the Russian language, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Monday. The protesters brought about 10 television sets and some radios and smashed them. "We don't need radios or televisions if we cannot hear our mother tongue on them," a protest organizer said. Earlier Ukraine's National Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting ruled that at least 50% of air time should contain programs in Ukrainian. The status of the Russian language in the former Soviet country was one of the hotly debated issues that delayed the signing of a national unity agreement on key policies by President Viktor Yushchenko and parliamentary leaders before Viktor Yanukovych's appointment as prime minister last year. Last month, an appeal court upheld the status of Russian as a regional language in eastern Ukraine. The appeal court overturned the decision of a district court in the city of Donetsk revoking the language's regional status, thereby upholding a May 2006 ruling by the Donetsk regional court granting Russian the status of a regional language. The sides eventually agreed to keep Ukrainian as the main state language, without enshrining it as the only official language. Yanukovych said previously that granting Russian the status of an official language in the country was impossible under current conditions, but that Ukraine needed a law to regulate the use of the Russian language, in line with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Ukraine's Communist leader, Petro Symonenko, earlier said his party will push the government for a referendum on granting Russian the status of an official language, and that the party will advocate budget spending in full on programs to enable the Charter to be applied in Ukraine. He said the current language policy being pursued by the authorities has antagonized certain forces in Russia, who took advantage of the situation to create an unfavorable political climate and impede the normalization of Ukrainian-Russian relations.
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