Russia seeks EU response to ban on Russian language at Tallinn high schools

Moscow believes that the Estonian government's ban on teaching in Russian at four Tallinn secondary schools is an example of the Estonian authorities' reluctance to respect the rights of the local Russian-speaking population.

Moscow believes that the Estonian government's ban on teaching in Russian at four Tallinn secondary schools is an example of the Estonian authorities' reluctance to respect the rights of the local Russian-speaking population.

On July 11, the Estonian government rejected a petition lodged by four Russian-language high schools in Tallinn, citing the absence of any actual obstacles to teaching in Estonian.

"We regard such a decision as another example that demonstrates the Estonian authorities' reluctance to respect the rights of the Russian-speaking population, which is the biggest national minority in Estonia.

It [the decision] logically matches Tallinn's long-term policy aimed at ousting the Russian language from the sphere of education, as well as the continuing a discriminatory policy to forcibly assimilate the non-title population and build a mono-ethnic society in the country," Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's envoy for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, said in a commentary.

"This decision is particularly contemptuous because it both contradicts Estonia's international obligations to protect the rights of national minorities and the multiple recommendations given by certain international organizations in this sphere and blatantly ignores the Constitution of the Estonian Republic, which allows educational institutions to choose the language of instruction themselves," he said.

Dolgov said he was also "seriously troubled by the Estonian authorities' intention to involve the security police in the campaign to oust the Russian language by ordering its officers to visit secondary school directors for "preventive conversations."

Dolgov said he was hopeful that international organizations and European Union institutions would respond to the Estonian authorities' measures to restrict the rights and legitimate interests of the country's Russian-speaking minority.

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