Russia, Moscow / corr Trend R.Agayeva / During a press conference in Moscow at the press centre of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Chepurin, head of the Department on Work with Compatriots Residing Abroad at the Russian Foreign Ministry reported to the Trend correspondent that Azerbaijan has many newspapers published in Russian which is not impeded by anyone, the education of the Russian in schools and colleges is on a good level and the administration of the country supports this trend. We do not have any problems in this connection, in fact we are pleased and this totally meets the interests of Russia.
He noted that the population of Azerbaijan comprises about 9mln people, with 180,000 (1.5-2%) of them being Russian or Russian-speaking (non-ethnic Azerbaijani). Chepurin mentioned that despite the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan very graciously agreed to hold a conference of regional compatriots in the Transcaucasia attended by Armenian representatives as well. The event, in his opinion, was held on the highest level. "Mr. Aliyev received us a week ago on the occasion of the conference and during 40 minutes informed us of the situation with the Russian language in Azerbaijan. Then he defined our nationalities by the accent," Chepurin said.
With regards to the obligatory teaching of Russian to migrants, Chepurin noted that the matter was on the agenda, but it was rather specific and is considered mainly by the Russian Federal Migration Service. "It is too late to speak of the plans regarding its implementation," Chepurin stated.
Chepurin reported that the only country where Russian was considered a state language was Belarus, and in Latvia, for instance, it is regarded as a foreign language. According to the statistics quoted by him, 17-18 mln Russians and Russian-speaking people reside in the 'near abroad' (former Soviet countries), and 10-11 mln reside in 'far abroad' ( Germany, Israel, France etc.). The Russian population in those countries mentioned have gradually decreased due to them returning to Russia. Thus, over 30% of the population in Kazakhstan and Ukraine is Russian, 3% in Estonia and Latvia, 5-10% in Uzbekistan and Lithuania, 10% in Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Belarus, 1% in Tajikistan, 0,5% in Armenia and Turkmenistan. Two CIS countries, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, have one Russian school each.
"We are concerned about the policy pursued by several 'near abroad' countries to reduce the Russian language, the Russian-language education and record-keeping in the language," Chepurin said.
He added that Russian businesses either do not support, or inefficiently supports the idea of the Russian language. "There area many Russians and Russian-speaking affluent people in Baltic countries and Kazakhstan. But I have not heard any of them organizing a concert or any other cultural event. Apparently, we do not provide for moral promotion," Chepurin stressed.
The Russian President announced that 2007 will be a Russian Language Year. The policy intended assist in the language is carried out by the corresponding Department at the Foreign Ministry of the country in compliance with three main programs. The activities are carried out on a regional level as well. "The Russian Abroad Centre, Houses of Russia, cultural centres and other organizations function abroad. We are going to issue an encyclopaedia with about 300 most famous personalities, to publish books in Russian in all countries, show documentaries and feature films, establish 200 Russian libraries in different countries and so on. All this is financed by special state programs," he stressed.
He noted that Russia was interested in drawing back the compatriots from abroad. However, this cannot be compulsory. "At present the Russian Embassies are engaged in the registration of those who wish to move to Russia. That is mainly Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. They can, however, only move into 12 of the regions," Chepurin said.
A large conference on the status of the Russian language in 'near and far abroad' countries will be held in Moscow on 29-30 May with the participation of corresponding officials and experts. The conference will be opened by the Chairman of the governmental commission, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.
On 4 June, 2007 "К- 3", Media-Holding and the AzerRos companies will hold the 'Russian Migration Service: Application, Trends and Prospects' international conference under the auspices of the Russian Federal Migration Service's Moscow and Moscow Region Department.