Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke last week of the Armenian government’s desire to expand Russian-language education in the country.
“In response to Yerevan’s desire, Russia is helping to increase the number of Russian schools,” Lavrov said after talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan. “We are interested in seeing the Russian language receive continued support from the friendly government.”
Dumanian clarified that his government wants to increase the number of classes, rather than entire schools, where courses are taught in Russian.
“The Republic of Armenia is intent on offering this opportunity to children in both elementary and high schools,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Armenian has been the country’s sole official language ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union. A law enacted in 1991 also made it the principal language of instruction for Armenian children enrolled in both public and private schools.
Forty-five schools currently have Russian-language sections for Russian citizens as well as those Armenian children who lived in Russia and only recently returned to Armenia. The latter are allowed to study there only temporarily.
Dumanian said that more such classes should be set up now because thousands of Russians have relocated to Armenia since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He declined to give any estimates of the number of school-age children who have arrived from Russia of late.
In written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service sent on Monday, the Armenian Ministry of Education said that the number of students in the Russian classes has increased by only 75 in recent weeks.
Most of the Russian migrants are young professionals who are thought to have left Russia for primarily economic reasons.
Armenia also has five schools financed and run by the Russian government. Most of their students are children of Russian military personnel serving in the South Caucasus state.