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    MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian language discrimination is compromising the idea of integration of former Soviet republics into the civilized international community, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Eleonora Mitrofanova said in an article published by the Russia in Global Policy magazine (January-February 2004).

    "But the fact that the majority of CIS and Baltic people know and actively use the Russian language is a common advantage for these countries," the author of the article remarks.

    "The refusal to use the well studied, impregnated and rich language acknowledged by the international community can lead to difficulties in communication, to spiritual and cultural impoverishment of the titular nations that have been culturalized by Russia, and unintentionally damage interethnic accord," says the article of the first deputy foreign minister.

    Mitrofanova also stated the narrowing use of the Russian language in the former CIS countries. "The number of Russian schools is decreasing not only in the Baltic states but also in the majority of CIS countries," she writes.

    Mitrofanova also cited positive examples in this area. Russian is the second state language in Belarus. In Kyrgyzstan, it has the status of an official language. The Constitution of Kazakhstan envisages that state organizations and local self-government bodies use the Russian language on a par with the state Kazakh language.

    Joint universities operating in line with intergovernmental agreements in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia help maintain high educational standards.

    Notably, this article by Mitrofanova was released on the eve of the day when Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga signed into law the bill limiting the rights of Russian residents to study in their native tongue.

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