The controversial bill granting the Russian language official status in about half of Ukraine’s regions, has been submitted for signature to the president of Ukraine, the country’s parliament said on its website on Tuesday.
It is unclear whether it was eventually signed by Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who earlier stalled the passage of the bill by refusing to sign it into law. Lytvyn tendered his resignation on July 4 in protest, but the Rada voted against the resignation on Monday.
Lytvyn said earlier on Tuesday that he might sign the bill “within the next few days.”
The bill requires the signature of both the parliament speaker and the president to become law.Language is a contentious issue in Ukraine, where roughly half the country claims to be Russian-speaking, but where Ukrainian is the only official language and is predominant in the west of the country.
The Rada’s passing of the bill in early July sparked violent clashes between the authorities and protesters in downtown Kiev.
On Monday opposition members unsuccessfully introduced four different draft resolutions aimed at abolishing the Rada's July 3 approval of the bill, which critics say was rushed through the Rada unconstitutionally by the ruling Party of Regions to score political point with President Viktor Yanukovich’s Russian-speaking support base.
Russian is still used in much of Ukraine, especially in the east, Crimea and Kiev, and there is a strong movement to protect the rights of Russian speakers. The bill allows the parliament, government, and other legislative and executive bodies to publish their decisions in the regional language, and enables TV companies to broadcast in that language.
The authors of the bill maintain that it preserves the status of Ukrainian as the only state language.