May 24 - Fighting breaks out in the Ukrainian parliament over a bill allowing Russian to be used an official language. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY- NO REPORTER NARRATION) Violent scuffles broke out in the Ukrainian Rada, or parliament, on Thursday (May 24) as deputies debated a bill allowing the official use of Russian language in some parts of the country. The brawl erupted between deputies loyal to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and lawmakers from pro-Western opposition parties, who want to preserve Ukraine's cultural and political independence from its powerful neighbor Russia. The law being debated proposes to allow the use of Russian as an official language equal to Ukrainian in some civic institutions such as schools, hospitals and courts in regions where a Russian-speaking population is in the majority. Opposition deputies consider the law as an attempt by Yanukovich's party to divide Ukrainians ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections in October and a threat to the existence of Ukrainian language. Before the fight, deputies argued that the law would split the country. Ukraine has a large Russian-speaking minority concentrated in the eastern part of the country, around the city of Donetsk, which is Yanukovich's power base and in the Crimea to the south. One opposition parliament member was taken to hospital with his head bleeding. Opposition deputy Mykola Petruk was taken to hospital with his shirt covered in blood, apparently from a blow to the head.