Tallinn, 22 July 2005
Tallinn, 07 July 2005
For immediate release
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authorities of Udmurtia, an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation,
have practically liquidated the only grammar school in the capital city of
Izhkar (Izhevsk) with the instruction in Udmurt language. The school had been
functioning for eleven years. The lengthy struggle of
schoolchildren's parents for normal conditions for their children has ended with removing the pupils to schools with the instruction in Russian.
The Kuzebay Gerd School was named in the honour of an Udmurt enlightener killed in 1937 by the Russian authorities under the pretext of being a Finnish spy. As the school has now practically ceased to exist, interethnic tensions in the Udmurt Republic have strained. The hopeless parents complained to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) of which the Russian Federation is a member. They accuse the authorities of disregarding the interests of Udmurts who are the native population of Udmurtia.
The official policy was vividly articulated by President of Udmurtia Aleksandr Volkov. At a recent meeting with leaders of ethnic and cultural associations, he stated that creation of such "ethnic reservations" is undesirable.
The Udmurts are a Finno-Ugric people. They live in the Udmurt Republic, an administrative unit located between the Kama and Vyatka rivers. The territory of Udmurtia is covered with the forest and forest-steppe, and borders the steppe zone. According to the 2002 All-Russia population census, the number of Udmurts is 637 000, with 429 000 (67%) speaking the Udmurt language. Two-thirds of the Udmurts live in Udmurtia, and one-third reside in the adjacent republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, and in the Perm and Kirov districts. The Udmurt language is taught in Udmurtia, as a rule, only in primary classes of rural schools.