Georgians feel lack of Russian language18.10.2012 | 18:12
Earlier almost every Georgian was fluent in Russian, but now, unfortunately, you can rarely hear Russian speech in the streets of Tbilisi. One of Mikheil Saakashvili's priorities was teaching the younger generation English language, or, at worst, French language. Russian lessons disappeared from the schedule, but has the desire to improve relations with the friendly people of Russia disappeared along with it? Our correspondent in Tbilisi tried to learn the attitude of the modern Georgia towards Russia and its language.
I haven't been in Georgia for many years, and two years ago my mother and I decided to visit homeland. That's what I saw in Tbilisi: young Georgians are not fluent in Russian, even those who have nothing against Russian culture. Of course, for them this is not their native language, but all the neighbors of Russia encourage the study of Russian in order to preserve normal relations with northern neighbor.
One case made me to seriously address the issue of the Russian language. It was in the subway. I was reading a magazine in Russian. Suddenly I realize that a woman, dressed in black, is looking at me with hard and hostile eyes. I asked her, "What's the matter?' "My son was killed at the war in 2008", an old Georgian woman answered. "I hate all Russian, the entire Russia". I was dumbfounded. A man, sitting nearby, said: "No one of my relatives has died, but I still think it is no good to take another's". He also said it would be better if I would read and speak in this country in its language.
My next step was to carry out a survey. The topic was the knowledge of the Russian language in Georgia and the desire to use it. The majority of respondents welcomed not only the knowledge of Russian but also approved old traditions of friendship with the native speakers of Russian. Mostly older people were "for", unyielding trends of modern politics. Second part, a little less, were young people, clearly resistant to utopian tendencies. Third place was taken by the people at the poverty line and therefore realistic in assessing the priorities of modern Georgia. Of course, some citizens say a categorical "no" to usual Russian and its knowledge. This is mainly representatives of the current mesmerized youth and middle-aged people, still hoping for the implementation of their plans and aspirations.
Eteri, a researcher: "Over the past few decades a lot has changed in the world. Soviet Union fell, and the situation in the East worsened. Georgia has tense relations with Russia, and this really dissatisfies many people living both in the Russian Federation and Georgia. I have worked in the field of science for many years, and we always tried to cooperate with our Soviet and later Russian counterparts. And of course, the problem of lack of knowledge of the Russian language among young people today is very sad. I hope that in the near future this will change and we will be close and good neighbors as always, and the young people will learn the Russian language, since the language barrier is an obstacle to the unification of the two friendly nations".
Victor Popov, the head of the cultural and educational center n.a. Shartava: "You know the relationships between our countries. This could not fail to impose an imprint on attitude to language, to the Russian culture. There's no Russian schools in Georgia any more. There are some branches of Russian in schools, there are only 20 of them for the entire Georgia, unfortunately, though earlier there were over a thousand of them. They close the schools on the pretext that there is no interest in the Russian language".
Anna, a repatriate: "The first time when I faced with the issue of my knowledge of the Russian language, was in the "passport office". One of the employees told me, "You are a Georgian and you must speak Georgian!" Who has determined this? I have always thought that every man determines this himself. Am I wrong? I thought that moment that I was very sorry that this man was clearly against. Not against the language, but against everything Russian".
Gvantsa, a student: "The owners of many Georgian cinemas have announced they would no longer show movies in Russian. Thus they decided to protest against the "Russian aggression". But the young people want to watch movies in the Russian, since they're interested in Russian culture and literature. My friends and I were very disappointed".
Elena, a Russian tourist: "I spent three weeks in Georgia. Unfortunately, it's time to leave. To say that I do not regret it - to say nothing. It was a trip that I will always remember, even if I never come to this beautiful and hospitable land. And, of course, I would like the relationships between our two countries to improve, and more and more of my compatriots have an opportunity to see the beauty of Georgia. Very hospitable and warm people who want to speak in Russian, but not all of them speak well, live here".
Now the first foreign language in Georgian schools is English, the second - French. The Ministry of Education claims this was made at the request of the students, who consider the Russian language unpromising. Only 17 percent of graduates have chosen the examination in Russian as a foreign language this year, while the English - 83 percent. As stated by the Ministry, this is "unique and the most important result of reform".