Chisinau, 18 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Moldova's schools will make Russian-language classes mandatory from the second grade, starting next month. Education Minister Ilie Vancea said the measure comes after parents lobbied for the Russian requirement. But some teachers criticized the move, calling it a continuation of a "Russianization process."
Moldova has a large Russian-speaking minority, including some elected officials who need translators in parliament. Russian has been offered in Moldovan schools as an optional foreign language, along with several others.
"Moldovan" -- nearly identical to Romanian -- was declared the national language after the nation broke from the Soviet Union.
Romania's Foreign Ministry condemned the language requirement, calling it political interference in education and culture that gives the Russian language a privileged status.