In early August the government of Latvia has forbidden to answer the Russian language in public exams. This decision marks the end of a peaceful three-year period, the relationship of the ruling parties on the Russian minority of Latvia. The attack on rights of Russian resumed.
Against this turn public policy are made by several politicians and public organizations. Street protests followed, but more on that later. Today I would like to name one controversial aspect of the new offensive of the nationalists.
About the atmosphere of the absurd, in which there was a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, which adopted the decision about the new language bans the readers of Delfi said the participant of the events — Konstantin Chekushin.
In his account, I was attracted by the words of the Ministers on that, introducing new restrictions on the Russian language in schools, the Latvian government allegedly acts in the interests of Russian children and their parents who suffered from the fact that before the exams you can answer in Russian. From the mouth of the supporters of the ban also sounded the word “discrimination”. This word is often used by proponents of the collapse of the Russian education.
The controversy in social networks, the people who write in Latvian, it is often claimed that the existence of a system of minority education in Latvia is “segregation and discrimination prohibited by international law”, and therefore the transfer of all education in Latvian language — it’s just “anti-discrimination and the protection of Russian children.”
The argument seems mildly illogical, since any further efforts on education of national minorities, including the use in the school curriculum, native language, and considered measures to address the unequal status of national minorities. But our virtual opponents continue to insist on its original understanding of discrimination, and now in these strange positions moved and Ministers of the government Kuchinskisa. I wonder where the wind blows? What is the Genesis of this legal perversion? Do the Latvian lawyers again, “enriched” international law original invention, the type of status of the alien?
The scene I caused a short investigation, turned out to be even more sad: this time the Latvian authorities stupidly cheated and replaced a key piece of the Convention to combat discrimination, on the other fragment, which diametrically changed the meaning of the document.
The Convention is called “On fighting discrimination in education”. Latvia acceded to, and the official text in Latvian was published in 2007.
The first article of this Convention obliges States to deal with any “distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or privileges in education”, if they are related to race, language, origin and so on. This means, for example, that there should be separate schools for black and white and nationality permanent resident cannot be a legal basis for denial of admission of the person to education.
However, in the second article refers to exceptions to the General rule: “the Following provisions are not considered as discrimination from the point of view of Article 1 of this Convention if they allow the separate States:
… b) the creation or preservation on motives of religious or language character of separate education systems or schools offer education corresponding to the choice of the parents…”
In the official English version (which was approved simultaneously with the Russian in 1960) says the same thing: “When permitted in a State, the following situations shall not be deemed to constitute discrimination, within the meaning of Article 1 of this Convention:
… (b) The establishment or maintenance, for religious or linguistic reasons, of separate educational systems or institutions offering an education which is in keeping with the wishes of the pupil”s parents…”
But official Latvian the text says is diametrically opposite: “Ja state to atļauj, tad, šīs konvencijas 1. panta izpratnē, šāda situācija nedrīkst veicināt diskrimināciju:
…b) reliģiskos vai lingvistiskos principu dēļ izveido un uztur atsevišķas vai sistēmas izglītības iestādes, kas piedāvā izglītību, kas ir saskaņā ar vecāku skolēnu vai likumīgo aizbildņu vēlmēm…”
In contrast to the Russian and English texts that protect the availability of schools teaching in the languages of national minorities (“it is not considered as discrimination and shall not be deemed to constitute discrimination”), the Latvian version of the Convention obliges: “this situation must not encourage discrimination” — “šāda situācija nedrīkst veicināt diskrimināciju”.
With the publication of this forgery has occurred for ten years. All these years, Latvian lawyers, journalists, politicians looked at life through the prism of non-existent rules of international law that the presence of minority schools connects with the threat of discrimination against their students. Regularly appeared manic calls for “the suppression of the privileges that lead to discrimination.” Training in the Russian language in minority schools of Latvia in this twisted logic has turned into “unwanted privilege.”
I think I’m not the first who drew attention to the perversion of the meaning of an international Treaty. After interpreters of the text read by experts, officials of the Ministry of foreign Affairs, Ministers and politicians. Many of them know foreign languages well enough to correct an error in the Latvian text. That it for 10 years, has not been fixed suggests that originally it was not a mistake but a conscious consolidated position of the Latvian establishment, which can not accept the fact that in the big world outside Latvia decided not to push minority schools, and in every way to protect them.