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Russia considering language tests for migrant workers

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Tuesday, March 4
Russian MP Aleksey Ostrovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party recently proposed a law to ban migrant workers who have a poor grasp of the Russian language. He said some 60 percent of foreign laborers either speak Russian poorly or do not speak it at all.

Ostrovsky also called on the governments of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members to promote Russian language-learning.

Eurasia Heritage Foundation president Elena Yatsenko says that the number of Russian language schools and culture centers in most CIS states has reduced in recent years, with research suggesting this is largely due to government policies.

“The most unfriendly policy toward the Russian language is in the Baltic states and the South Caucasus. Only in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan does the Russian language have prominence, where it is the official language,” the news agency Regnum quoted Yatsenko as saying.

She said Armenia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were shown to have the least number of Russian language schools, with only 1.2 percent of Armenians and 2 percent of Tajiks studying Russian. However, she claims the same research noted there is high demand for Russian language learning in these countries.

The situation is markedly different in Georgia, where 45 percent of those interviewed during the research were opposed to increasing Russian language learning, Yatsenko told Regnum, citing concern that this may have political consequences.