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Who got that agitated by the �ethnic component� of a school in Moscow?

The ethnic Georgian component to education in Moscow school No 223 caused a conflict. This conflict arose because of this very component. All last week the main TV channels of this country tried to understand of the �difficult� situation in that school.

Around 400 children of twelve different nationalities study at the school. Last year the old school building was demolished so teachers and pupils were moved to nearby school � 201. Construction of the new building was complete in May this year, so in September the children and teachers of the school � 223 are expected to move in.

At the end of May an open letter was published in a local newspaper, signed by 30 students of school � 223. In adult language they complained that they are driven away from the playgrounds by militia officers and that they have no place to relax. The letter ends with a question: �We, Moscow-born teenagers, cannot understand why so much attention is given to the children of other nationalities who only recently moved to Moscow with their parents?�

In May also another letter was published, on the homepage of LPNI (Movement against Illegal Immigration). Its author is the delegate of Vojkovskiy District and member of the LDPR (The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), Akim Borisovich Bogatyrev. Akim Borisovich long ago outgrew the age of being a skinhead, that is why he is an activist of a legal organisation dedicated to the fight against migrants. In the letter the delegate uses very harsh expressions. Quote: �In a silent agreement with the Moscow Department of Education Georgian chauvinists are carrying out the outrageous try to �georgianize� our district, which is most probably part of a plan of a Moscow Georgian ethnic grouping to occupy the territory of our Vojkovskiy District.�

The director of the school � 223 Dali Givievna Makatsariya agreed to meet me. To enter school � 223 you have to go through the back entrance of school � 201.

Dali Makatsariya is a very beautiful young woman. She speaks well. She tells me about the school. She tells that they are building a church of friendship. That not only Georgians teach the Georgian language and that even Russian parents attend the facultative lessons. Dali Givievna talks about the school with pride (98 percent of the final-year students matriculate in a institute of higher education) and looks me straight in the eye. The children described to her the story of the letter. A man approached them and asked, would they like to have a new sports field. The children said they would like to have one. Then the man introduced himself as a delegate and asked the children to sign a piece of paper. The children signed. Soon the open letter was published. It is important to remember that there were 30 signatures at the end of that letter. Dali falls silent for some time, then she says: �Everybody knows the dance group of our school, �Aragvi�. Last year the children gave a performance, and Putin even kissed them.� The director takes a deep breath and asks: �The people who did this didn�t even meet with me or talk to me. What was all of that for? Why did they need to do this? When the topic was on TV on the third channel we stated that not one of these children was pupil of our school.�

Akim Borisovich organized the meeting with the community for me. By telephone he gave me guidelines: �There�s a big red chute and a swing�. On the big red chute there is written with black spray: Nelegali (non-legal). On a bench three teenagers smoke, waiting for the journalist to approach them.

It turns out the boys are not pupils of this school, but still�

�That is a school for non-Russians. There are all these foreigners��

They finish their cigarettes and leave.

The energetic Akim Borisovich shows up in the doorway. The small and nearly bald man wears a sweat suit and slippers. He is interested in �how the interview went�. Then he leaves to find some children from the school and returns with two girls, Marina and Irina. One girl finished 9th class but wasn�t transferred to 10th , the other girl was transferred to 9th class.

�I�m not content. Many children leave our school. That is because we have a reputation. It�s said that this is a �Russian-Georgian� school.�

�Do they force you to study Georgian?�

�No. But they are talking in their own language. If you pass by, you don�t understand anything. What if they talk about us?�

And Marina asks: �And in general, Georgians should live in Georgia, right?�

No more children from the school show up.

Akim Borisovich also brings a delegate, Yuriy Mikhailovich Komarov from the �Yabloko� party, delegate of the Vojkovskiy District. Yuriy Mikhailovich is well dressed and carries some papers. When he talks, he glances all around but never at me. He says the problem is that the building of the school was funded by the city of Moscow and not by the embassy. And that you have to give the new building to good children. In general, delegate Komarov is not against these kinds of schools, but a Georgian school� He talks for a long time, but keeps repeating himself: �� the relations to Georgia are very difficult right now� the political situation is like this� when they behave like that towards Russia, than we also�the Russian army��

Not far away Akim Borisovich is hurrying past with a bucket. On his way he tells the children on the playground something.

And Yuriy Mikhailovich tells us everything. He says that the school has a shortage, while other schools have a surplus. �That means you have to give the new building to our children�. He shows me a list of other schools in the district. I have a look � shortages everywhere. The delegate specifies that this data is old.

So, if you have a close look the school�s situation does not seem difficult at all. There are citizens who are looking for someone to blame for their unsettled lives. There are activists on different levels who are ready to show exactly who is to blame. There are people who cover their eyes. There is television, neatly catching political situations. And there are grown-ups who watch television. And these grown-ups have children who listen to their parents� If there were not children involved, it would not even be worth getting to know the people acting in this.

p.s.: The Moscow Department of Education and its headwoman Lyubov� Kezina made their position pretty clear: �In Moscow there are 71 schools with an ethnic component. Such schools are founded with only one aim: to educate the children to respect other cultures. Al these schools work according to a program that is approved by the Moscow Government.

Anna Shamburova


Source: Novayagazeta.ru

� 1993-2003

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