DRI: The Georgian language is being deliberately persecuted in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali
The Georgian language is being purposefully and consistently persecuted from the daily life of ethnic Georgians living in the occupied territories. Apart from the fact that the ethnic Georgian population is not given the opportunity to receive education in their native language, in some cases Georgians in Gali and Akhalgori are even forbidden to speak their native language.

From September 1, 2003, all nine schools in the upper zone of the Gali district have been completely switched to Russian education. Up to three hours a week are devoted to the Georgian language, which is taught only as a foreign language. The de facto authorities of Abkhazia implemented the same policy in relation to schools in the lower zone of the Gali district. Since September 2015, the language of education in all eleven Georgian-language schools in the lower zone of the Gali district has become the Russian language. In the territory of occupied Abkhazia, the last Georgian-language students graduated from school in 2022. Thus, the education model has become fully Russian in Abkhazia.

As of 2023, 27 schools were operating in Gali district: Saberio secondary schools Nos 1 and 2, Kvemo and Zemo Barghepi school, Sidi, Mziuri, Gagidi, Pichori, Otobaia schools Nos 1 and 2, Tagiloni, Nabakevi, Dikhazurgi, Lekukhoni, first Gali, Rechkhi, Ghumurishi, Kokhori, Achigvari, Mukhuri, Okumi, Tsarche, Chkhortoli and two Chuburkhini schools; There are two public schools in the town of Gali - schools Nos 1 and 2. There are no schools in the villages of Agubedia, Tskhirshi, so-called Primorsky, Gudava and Tsarche.

The Russian scenario was repeated in the Tskhinvali region as well. The education language has been completely replaced by Russian from 2017. In Akhalgori, there is currently only the eleventh grade, which receives education in the Georgian language, and from the next year, all schools will become fully Russian. In these schools, up to the eleventh grade, Georgian is still taught as a foreign language, however, as students note, Georgian is not given special attention, lessons may not be held, and as a rule, missed hours are not compensated.

As of 2023, only six schools were functioning in the Akhalgori district, in the villages of Ikoti, Boli, Korinta and Balaani. One of the two schools in the village of Dabi is completely Russian. As for the rest of the schools in the Akhalgori district, studies had been conducted in the Georgian language and the Georgian curriculum had been used in these schools until 2017.

Transition to the Russian language seriously worsened the quality of education in Gali and Akhalgori. It is difficult for students to learn in Russian, and for teachers to teach in Russian. The overwhelming majority of teachers in Gali are ethnically Georgian and have received their education in the Georgian language. Students are in a particularly bad situation because they speak Megrelian or Georgian at home, while all subjects are taught in Russian at school. As a result, students cannot learn any language fluently, which limits their opportunities for higher education and career development.

In South Ossetia, children and teachers are prevented from speaking Georgian in kindergartens; The same is happening in occupied Abkhazia. According to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, there have been many cases in Akhalgori when parents were given a warning because their children were speaking in Georgian to other children. Many kindergarten employees were threatened with dismissal for speaking Georgian.

Georgian dances had been performed along with Ossetian dances at all cultural events held in Akhalgori after 2008 and this also applied to school events and celebrations, which had been attended by guests from Tskhinvali. As of today, the situation has changed. Georgian dances have been removed from the concert programme of the Akhalgori Dance Ensemble. Georgian inscriptions on store banners have also been replaced by Russian ones.

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Taking away the right to receive education in one's mother tongue violates the right to quality education and access to education. According to the precedent established by the European Court of Human Rights (Catan and others v. Moldova and Russia), despite the fact that Georgia cannot exercise effective control over occupied Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, the State of Georgia is obliged to intensify political, legal and diplomatic efforts to ensure the right of the residents of Gali and Akhalgori to receive education in their mother tongue.