Scandal developing in Georgia around school trip to Crimea
Six students from Tbilisi-based public school #146 have travelled to Russia’s annexed Crimea to attend a Russian language summer camp. They are participating in the first international camp which is to be held at the Artek international youth center. The Sputnik-Georgia news agency first reported about the participation of the Georgian school students in the summer camp in Crimea on 21 August.
As the camp participants told the media outlet, they had learnt about the camp from their Russian language teacher. They participated in a contest, and took a special training course in order to attend the summer camp. As is pointed out in Sputnik-Georgia’s article, the contest was organized by the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute. As part of the contest, the students had to produce video clips and slideshows on the following topic: ‘What does Russia mean to us and what role does it play in our lives?’ The school administration and principal refused to comment on the aforesaid to the journalists.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education of Georgia issued an official statement, saying it had already contacted the Ukrainian side and explained that the Georgian school students’ participation in the summer camp was the result of a thoughtless decision, made by either the school administration or the teacher. “Regrettably, either the school administration or the teacher made the thoughtless decision, which resulted in the school students traveling to Russia’s annexed region of Crimea… The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, jointly with other competent agencies, will try to establish whether it was the teacher’s individual decision or a purposeful act,” the Ministry stressed in its statement.
What is Artek?
Artek is a Russian-language training camp, that is usually held from 7-27 August. The camp brings together 20 teachers and 170 school students from different countries, including: Austria, Australia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Vietnam, Georgia, India, Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Palestine, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, France, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The Russian Language Council, set up by the RF government, is the organizer of the summer camp.
Georgian public reaction
The Georgian students’ participation in the summer camp has stirred up strong public reaction in Georgia, especially on social media. Some citizens approve of the project, while others condone it, saying that the students’ participation in such a project is inappropriate. In their opinion, the Education Ministry should be made liable for the aforesaid, along with the school principal, the teacher and the students’ parents.
As one of the social media users pointed out, participation in the Artek camp used to be a cherished dream for each and every Soviet child. According to him, children who participate in this camp will always remember the time spent there and the emotions they get from attending it.
“Our generation should learn the Russian language! It’s a rich literary language!” the social media user noted.
According to other social media users, as Artek is held in the occupied region of Ukraine, and the Georgian teacher and students visited this specific location, it is equal to a crime and betrayal.