UNESCO must redouble its efforts to combat discrimination in education, said Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Pankin. The Deputy Minister drew attention to the “squeezing out” of the Russian language in Latvia, Ukraine and Estonia. Mr. Pankin headed the Russian delegation at the 42nd session of the UNESCO General Conference.
“UNESCO should redouble its efforts to combat discrimination in education. We call on you to stand up for the protection of children belonging to national minorities and respond to the harsh squeezing of the Russian language from the education systems of Latvia, Ukraine and Estonia,” said the deputy minister (quoted from TASS). He called the situation unacceptable when journalists, cultural and natural heritage, languages, students and others are divided into “those worthy and not worthy of assistance and attention, into ‘us’ and ‘outsiders’.”
Alexey Pankin believes that UNESCO is affected by a “systemic crisis”, which was the result of “double standards, a selective approach and miscalculations.” He called the “Ukrainization” of the agenda in the organization a dead end. The deputy minister called for a “return to compliance with the letter and spirit of UNESCO’s charter” and to observe “genuine multilateralism.”
Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy (United Russia) in September called for consideration of the issue of Russia’s withdrawal from UNESCO in connection with the organization’s criticism of the bill allowing clear-cutting for the purpose of tourist development of Lake Baikal. UNESCO believes that the bill adopted by the State Duma in the first reading will weaken the standards for permissible impact on the Baikal ecosystem.