DRI: Tskhinvali security service searches Akhalgori schools
On June 13, the so-called security service of Tskhinvali conducted a search in Akhalgori municipality schools. According to the information obtained by the Democracy Research Institute, documents and textbooks were seized; phones were also taken away from teachers and representatives of the administration, which were returned after inspection. The searches were conducted illegally, without any explanation, early in the morning, and simultaneously at schools where education had been conducted in the Georgian language before 2017.

Currently, there are six schools in the Akhalgori municipality, where education had been conducted in Georgian before 2017: one in Akhalgori township and five in the villages - Ikoti, Korinta, Akhmaji, Balaani and Zemo Boli. The population still refers to these schools as Georgian schools. The policy of Russification of previously fully Georgian-language schools began in 2017, when the language of education in grades 1-6 was switched from Georgian to Russian. A similar process was launched in the Gali district as well, where all Georgian schools became Russian-language. It has been forbidden to receive education in the native language in Akhalgori for years, and a large part of the Georgian population is forced to receive education in the Tbilisi-controlled territory.

The reason for the search is unknown to the school administration. According to the locals, it must be connected to the increased control over the Akhalgori population, which is also proved by the fact that the search was conducted only at schools where education had been conducted in the Georgian language. No search was conducted in the Russian school of Akhalgori, which has been operating since 2008. The opening of a Russian-language school in a district mainly inhabited by Georgians and Ossetians is another sign of intensified Russification. The search once again points to the practice of discrimination and violation of the rights of the Georgian population in the region.

The Democracy Research Institute calls on the Government of Georgia to respond to the mentioned fact. The authorities should use all the available mechanisms to protect the fundamental rights of the population of Akhalgori, to prevent illegal interference in the educational process and to restore the right to education in the native, Georgian language for the population living in the Akhalgori and Gali districts.