Tbilisi Speaks of ‘Russification’ in Occupied Akhalgori, As Tskhinvali Fires Ethnic Georgian School Principals

Georgian State Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, overseeing the country’s Russian-occupied regions, reported on February 7 that two ethnic Georgian principals of schools in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, were dismissed a couple of days ago.

According to the State Ministry, the recent dismissal of Nino Amiranashvili and Mzia Psuturi, principals of Akhalgori school #1 and an Ikoti village school, respectively, is yet another proof of “repressions that the occupying regime is carrying out” on the ground.

“Overall, it is a huge problem that both in Gali [ethnic Georgian majority district in occupied Abkhazia] and Akhalgori, students lack opportunity to study in their mother tongue. Unfortunately, the situation is gradually aggravating,” Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said.

Minister Tsikhelashvili also noted that the fact represents the continuation of discrimination against the local population in Akhalgori, some of whom have already left the occupied region. “These are not only restrictions imposed on teaching Georgian or on studying in Georgian, but also, [these are] repressive measures against school personnel,” Tsikhelashvili said.

She further noted that this issue will be raised at the upcoming meeting with Co-Chairs of Geneva International Discussions (GIDs), which she said, will be held in Tbilisi next week.

According to the State Ministry, “Russification” process has been actively underway in Akhalgori region for years, as the seven Georgian schools have been gradually switching to Russian, “significantly affecting the quality of education” among Georgian students.

Moreover, since September, after the closure of crossing points, connecting the occupied region with Georgia proper, ten teachers of Akhalgori schools remained on Tbilisi-controlled territory and could not cross the occupation line.

Over the last three years, Moscow-backed authorities of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region have successfully squeezed their mother tongue out the last remaining Georgian-language schools in Gali and Akhalgori districts, switching instead to the Russian language.

The Reconciliation Minister reported in late 2018 that, there were 58 schools in Gali district before 1990s, among them 52 were Georgian, two Russian, three Georgian-Russian and one Georgian-Abkhaz. 31 Georgian schools remaining after the war of 1992-1993 were gradually moved to Russian-language schooling in Gali district. The last 11 Georgian schools were also abolished in 2015.

Georgian Foreign Ministry reported in 2017 that “drastic changes were made” in the curriculum of those 11 schools, which were  considered as all-Georgian before; Russian language teaching was introduced in the first four grades, while all subsequent entry-level classes started teaching in Russian.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)