Ukrainian parliament backs Russian language bill

The Ukrainian parliament backed today a controversial bill that would make Russian the country's second language, The Voice of America reports.

234 lawmakers in the 450-seat chamber voted for the bill on Tuesday. Deynychenko reports the measure is expected to become law after parliament votes on it a second time.

The bill calls for Russian to become the official language in Ukraine's predominantly Russian-speaking eastern region.

President Viktor Yanukovych supports the legislation, but pro-Western opposition lawmakers say it threatens Ukraine's independence from Russia.

Ukraine is separated into the Russian-speaking eastern and southern regions and the Ukrainian-speaking western region.

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