KIEV, Ukraine, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Ukraine's president Wednesday signed into law a measure bestowing official status on the Russian language in about half of the country's regions.
President Viktor Yanukovych approved the bill, which allows government entities to publish and TV companies to broadcast in Russian, the regional language in much of Ukraine, notably the east, Crimea and Kiev, RIA Novosti reported.
The bill's authors say it preserves Ukrainian as the only state language, but Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn offered to resign rather than sign the bill. Parliament voted against his resignation, and the bill's passage set off violent protests in downtown Kiev.
Opponents of the bill say it was rushed through Parliament by the majority Party of Regions to satisfy Yanukovych's Russian-speaking base, RIA Novosti said.