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Ukrainian politicians vote to adopt controversial language law

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Ukrainian politicians vote to adopt controversial language law
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Reuters
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Ukrainian politicians have voted to adopt a controversial language bill that will see Ukrainian accepted as the state's only official language.

This new bill is considered by many to disregard the country's diverse population of multiple languages — a 2001 census found 30% of the population considered Russian to be their native language, while other minority languages such as Crimean tatar, Romanian, Hungarian and Bulgarian were also popular.

Despite the country's complex mix of languages, the bill received 278 votes from MPs on Thursday, passing the 226 minimum threshold.

Outgoing president Petro Poroshenko wrote positively on Facebook about the vote's outcome, promising to sign the bill into law before leaving office in June.

Maintaining that it did not infringe on the rights of the country's Russian speakers, Poroshenko said the bill was "harmonious and balanced".

Special "language inspectors" will be deployed to ensure the new law's implementation, which will see Ukrainian used in all official documents and settings, and have quotas introduced to the media.

Concessions will be made for religious settings and private communications.

Ukraine's president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky did not see eye-to-eye with his predecessor, saying that while he agreed with Ukrainian being the official state language, he did not agree with "prohibition and punishments" in implementation.

Zelensky added that he would conduct a "thorough analysis" of the new law after taking office.

Ukraine's move came just a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which would allow residents in eastern Ukraine to obtain a Russian passport.

The Russian president said Thursday that he didn't see anything wrong with his decision.

READ MORE: Putin sees 'nothing wrong' with giving passports to Ukraine's breakaway regions