Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia Vyacheslav Chirikba taught a unique course on the extinct Ubykh language
One of the opposition leaders in Abkhazia, former Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Chirikba, will no longer be able to give lectures at Abkhaz State University.
University management said he was ‘made redundant.’
Chirikba is a professor of the Abkhaz language department of Abkhaz State University, a doctor of philological sciences, a full member of the Academy of Sciences of Abkhazia, a lecturer at the University of Leiden.
He is the most prominent Ubykh language specialist in the world; a language considered to be critically endangered.
For many years he taught at the Faculty of Philology a lecture course in Abkhaz Phonology and taught a special course, Ubykh Language. This lecture cycle is unique, since the Ubykh language is not studied anywhere else in the world.
And without warning and explanation, both subjects were excluded from the curriculum. Chirikba found out about this when he came to a lecture.
Many experts believe that he was made redundant because of his political views, since Vyacheslav Chirikba is one of the active critics of the current government.
However, after the uproar on social media over the news, the head of the department of foreign languages of the philological faculty of the university Rita Achba made a message.
Chirikba was not fired, and two of his lecture courses were not canceled, she said.
According to her, the whole point is that Chirikba is still working in another scientific institution – the Abkhaz Institute for Humanitarian Research. Therefore, he has the right to work only half time at the university, instead of the three-quarters he was doing until recently.
Therefore, a quarter of his staffing was moved to the next semester.
“I ask you not to transfer all working moments to politics,” said Rita Achba.
However, such an explanation convinced few people that there was no political motive.
“It turns out that for many years he fit into the staffing table and did not violate the law, and as soon as he became a critic of the authorities, he went beyond the limits of the permissible,” one Facebook user said.
“A shameful decision,” the famous blogger Ahra Smyr said, commenting on the reduction of Chirikba.
“By such decisions they will send our people down the road of the Ubykh as well. While the Ubykhs have dissolved in Turkish culture, then we can expect to dissolve in the post-Soviet — not even in Russian, Armenian or Georgian, but in some kind of faceless post-Soviet resort culture.
“This decision shows that our leaders are exclusively concerned with profit and petty billing. Apart from local intrigues, they themselves did not succeed anywhere, but now they have strangled the world-famous scientist’s endeavors that are important for the Abkhaz people, culture and science,” said Smyr.
“We have all the titles, ranks, academic degrees, with the rarest exception – only local circulation. Chirikba is just one of those rare people who we are not ashamed of in any part of the civilized world,” said Abkhazian artist Adgur Dzidzaria.
Chirikba is not the only scientist who suffered at work for political reasons. A week earlier, the head of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Abkhazia was dismissed – Doctor of Philosophy Oleg Dameniya. Although he did not belong to any political organization, nevertheless, he allowed himself to criticize the incumbent president and the authorities.