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Shevardnadze defending the Russian language2011-03-14 14:29
A new conflict of ideologies and generations following Turgenev's Fathers and Sons seems to be growing in Tbilisi. While President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili is trying to cure the strong psychological complexes that he acquired after August 2008 with the help of a small war that he launched against the Russian language, his predecessor on the post of the head of state Eduard Shevardnadze defends the global spread of Tolstoy's and Dostoyevsky's language in the Georgian society.
Hardly was the story with a secret taboo on singing Russian songs in public catering places forgotten when it became clear last February that the ban was no bureaucratic fun but part of a whole strategy of Saakashvili's henchmen aimed at squeezing Russian words from the Georgians' everyday life. At that time, Ministry of Education and Science took a decision to deprive Russian of a status of an obligatory subject at schools and equal it to the second foreign language that is taught since the seventh form. At the same time, English, which is among obligatory subjects, is taught since the very first year.
Deputy Minister of Education Irina Kurdadze assured then that the innovations in the school program were in no way aimed at prejudicing the rights of the Russian-speaking population, although she let out that "it was very doubtful that a headmaster would assume the initiative of paying salary to Russian teachers. It is quite logic that if a Russian teacher is not given any hours to teach he will be paid no salary, and these hours are given by Ministry of Education and Science".
Just like before, Georgian officials never bothered to ask for the opinion of their own fellow countrymen. It was both the schoolchildren and their parents who spoke out in favour of Pushkin and Gogol's language. "I believe I need to know Russian, especially that my mother lives in Moscow. She always tells me that Russia is our neighbour and one cannot fail to know his neighbour's language. But we even don't have movies in Russian... And if it is prohibited at schools this will be the end", - one of Tbilisi senior high school students expressed his opinion then.
His opinion was shared by a mother of another pupil: "My generation speaks fluent Russian but our children have switched to English. I understand the political situation but what does it have to do with the language? And what if another power comes that won't need your English? People are no experimental laboratory. Let Misha learn what he likes but why does he force the people to do so?"