A regional legislature on the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula called Wednesday for making Russian a second state language in Ukraine, a move likely to stoke the ire of Ukrainian nationalists in other regions, according to AP.
More than three-quarters of the Crimea`s 100-seat parliament backed the resolution, which also asked for the Russian language to be given special status in regions where Russian-speakers are in the majority.
The constitution adopted by Ukraine following the 1991 Soviet collapse declared Ukrainian as the sole state language, but many Ukrainians, particularly in eastern regions and on the Crimean Peninsula, consider Russian to be their native tongue.
Six regional governments in the east and south earlier this year granted Russian special status - decisions that were heavily criticized by President Viktor Yushchenko.
Council officials say their decision is based on European laws that protect regional and minority languages. Critics say, however, that Russian doesn`t need special protection.
The language issue has become one of the most sensitive in Ukraine, where Russian dominated during Soviet times. In western regions, Ukrainian dominates and nationalists see protecting the language as a way to prevent meddling from Moscow.
The Party of the Regions, whose head, Viktor Yanukovych, is now prime minister, campaigned on a promise to make Russian a second state language.