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Top Ukrainian MP warns Russian could takeover as national language

The Russian language is stronger than Ukrainian and would become the country's main language if it was given official status

The Russian language is stronger than Ukrainian and would become the country's main language if it was given official status, Ukrainian parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said on Saturday.

The question of Ukraine giving official status to the Russian language has become a matter for heated debate since Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in February on the back of strong support in the mainly Russian-speaking east of the country.

The new Ukrainian head of state had spoken before the election of his intention to strengthen the status of Russian language in the country, but on Tuesday he declared that Ukrainian should be the only state language.

Lytvyn said on Saturday the debate on Russian being a second state language should be laid to rest.

"I am convinced that we need to put an end to the discussion of this topic," the speaker of the Supreme Rada said.

"We are well aware that in the present situation, if we assume hypothetically that Russian becomes a second state language, we would actually be left with one state language - Russian. The Ukrainian language cannot withstand competition in the scientific sphere, in the field of information, and in communications," the parliamentary press service quoted Lytvyn as saying.

The speaker said the preservation of the Ukrainian language was essential for the preservation of Ukrainian statehood, and called for state regulations to support the development of the language.

"We need a balanced state language policy, we need an appropriate body to be the guardian of this issue," he said.

During the election campaign, Yanukovych declared that the position of the Russian language in Ukraine should be strengthened through the ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Ukraine is already a signatory to the charter, which if it entered Ukrainian law would give each region of the country the right to choose the language used in official communication and for teaching in schools.

Yanukovych's election victory showed a clear split between the pro-Russian east of the country and the more nationalist west, where his opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, won most votes. A similar divide was seen five years earlier, when Viktor Yushchenko was elected president at the expense of Yanukovych.

KIEV, March 13 (RIA Novosti) 


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