MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian Foreign Ministry official said Monday that Moscow will be closely scrutinizing a draft law in Ukraine that would see Russian dropped as an official language.
The legislative proposal follows the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych over the weekend and has already aroused concerns that a surge of nationalism in the former Soviet nation could unfairly marginalize the substantial ethnic Russian community.
“Any political reforms, including constitutional reforms, must take into account the interests of all Ukrainian citizens,” said Konstantin Dolgov, a human rights official at the Foreign Ministry.
Ukrainian media reported Sunday that a draft law enshrining Ukrainian as the only official state language was being considered by parliament.
Russian is currently recognized as an official language in regions where at least 10 percent of the population is Russian-speaking. Just under half of Ukrainian regions meet that standard.
The country is split between the Ukrainian-speaking West and the Russian-speaking East, although many speak both or a mixture of the two known as “surzhyk.”
Yanukovych had his base of support in the east, while the protest movement, which also includes a notably rabid nationalist element, has drawn most of its impetus from western regions.
Yanukovych, who was voted into power with 48.9 percent of the vote in 2010, was often ridiculed during his time in office for his poor command of Ukrainian.
In December, Yanukovych agreed to a financial aid package from Russia to defuse the crisis in what was widely seen as a foreign policy coup for Moscow. With Yanukovych’s removal from power, Moscow has signaled that deal could be shelved, and Western leaders scrambled Monday to assemble a replacement.