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    Ukraine pro-Russian party to raise language issue in parliament

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    A pro-Russian party that won Ukraine's parliamentary elections in March will bring up national language policy at the new legislature's first session on May 25, a party representative said Friday.

    KIEV, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - A pro-Russian party that won Ukraine's parliamentary elections in March will bring up national language policy at the new legislature's first session on May 25, a party representative said Friday.

    The issue - and in particular the status of Russian - has become the subject of heated debate since several pro-Russian regions in eastern Ukraine, dominated by Russian speakers, and a Black Sea region in the south granted the Russian language regional status.

    "The Party of Regions will bring up Ukraine's language policy for discussion at the first session of the Supreme Rada," said Yevheniy Kushnaryov of the Party of Regions political council presidium.

    About a quarter of Ukraine's population of some 50 million say Russian is their native tongue.

    Kushnaryov said Ukraine needed to clarify its understanding of the problem and draw up a plan of action.

    "The nervous and aggressive reaction of the Ukrainian authorities to the decisions of regional legislatures in Sevastopol, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk shows that the Ukrainian government has neither a clear idea of how to resolve the problem nor any specific plan of action," Kushnaryov said.

    He also called for the issue to be settled using legislative means, and said the Party of Regions had never been against Ukrainian being a state language.

    "We will do our best to encourage development of the Ukrainian language, but this should in no way restrict the use of or discriminate against the Russian and other languages spoken in Ukraine," Kushnaryov said.

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