KIEV, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian authorities are open to discussing granting Russian the status of an official language in the country's southeastern regions, the acting head of the ruling political party in parliament said Thursday.
“We will regulate this issue in a law that will stipulate the right of regions with a large proportion of a minority population to give [their language] official status,” said Sergei Sobolev of the Batkyvshchina (Fatherland) Party at a press conference.
The Ukrainian lawmaker added that he doubted a nationwide referendum on the official status of Russian would be successful.
According to Sobolev, the Ukrainian parliament could endorse a Russian language memorandum as early as Thursday.
After a coup in February, the self-proclaimed government in Kiev swiftly abolished a law passed under the Yanukovich administration that made Russian a second official language in 13 of 27 Ukrainian regions.
The cancellation sparked protests in the traditionally Russian-dominated areas of eastern and southeastern Ukraine.
Language is a contentious issue in Ukraine, where roughly half the country claims to be Russian-speaking, but where Ukrainian was and is the only official language and is predominant in the west of the country.
Many Ukrainians speak both languages, or a mixture of the two known as Surzhyk.