Kazan Principal Turns To European Court In Fight For Tatar Language

KAZAN, Russia -- The director of a private school in Russia's Tatarstan region has filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against a partial ban imposed by Russia's federal authorities on Tatar-language teaching in schools there.

Tatar lawmakers in November 2017 were instructed by the Russian Education Ministry to adopt new measures according to which daily, mandatory Tatar-language classes were replaced by non-mandatory classes limited to two hours per week.

The move caused an outcry in Tatarstan and other regions where local languages have official status alongside Russian.

Pavel Shmakov told RFE/RL on July 15 that Russian authorities have violated ethnic Tatars' right to receive education, their right to a fair trial, and their right to remedies and reparations when their human rights such as those guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights are violated.

Shmakov, who is an ethnic Russian, has opposed Moscow's move to scrap mandatory education in the local language in regions with indigenous ethnic groups.

In March 2018, he was fined the equivalent of $440 for refusing to drop mandatory Tatar-language classes at his school.

Shmakov told RFE/RL that his goal is to bring back mandatory education in the official languages to Russia's ethnic regions.

"Tatarstan is not the main or the only region facing the problem, other smaller languages [in Russia] may disappear," Shmakov said.