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North Ossetia Defends Mandatory Ossetian Classes In Schools

A group of teachers and linguists is mounting a petition drive to urge President Vladimir Putin to preserve the mandatory status of Ossetian-language classes in the North Ossetia region.

The North Ossetian leader's adviser on cultural issues, Tamerlan Kambolov, announced on Facebook that the Association of Teachers and Researchers of the Ossetian Language were starting to collect signatures on December 27.

The petition, which Kambolov posted, says that Ossetian classes must remain mandatory in the region's schools because it has the status of a state language in North Ossetia, along with Russian.

The language issue has triggered tension in Russia's "ethnic republics" -- regions where non-Russian ethic groups are heavily represented -- after Putin said in July that ethnic Russians must not be forced to learn the languages of indigenous groups.

Putin also ordered federal prosecutors to check whether students were being forced to study minority languages across Russia.

Classes in indigenous languages have lost their mandatory status in several regions since then.

The move sparked protests in Russia's republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Mari El, and Chuvashia.

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