KIEV, Ukraine, July 4 (UPI) -- Police used tear gas after fighting broke out in Kiev during a demonstration Wednesday against a bill raising the status of the Russian language in Ukraine.
President Viktor Yanukovych threatened to consider conducting parliamentary elections early after the country's parliamentary speaker and deputy speaker quit Wednesday in protest, RIA Novosti reported.
If signed into law, the bill would grant official regional status to Russian in regions where it is native for at least 10 percent of the population, including Kiev. Ukrainian would remain the state language, but the bill would raise use of other languages spoken in the country -- including Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Hungarian -- to official regional status.
Witnesses said protesters threw bottles at riot police during the clashes, in which several people were injured. Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and his deputy Mykola Tomenko resigned and several opposition lawmakers joined the protesters.
Yanukovych said he would not rule out calling early parliamentary elections to try to end the political turmoil, RIA Novosti said.
"Viktor Yanukovych has not ruled out introducing the procedure for early parliamentary elections, if the situation regarding the work of the [parliament] is not stabilized," the president's press office said.
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