In a controversial ruling that has drawn the ire of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the European Court of Human Rights has ordered Moscow to pay 1 million euros to Moldovans denied the opportunity to study their language in the Latin, rather than the Cyrillic, alphabet.
The Strasbourg court ruled on Friday in favor of 170 ethnic Moldovans living in the breakaway republic of Transdnestr who filed a complaint over a crackdown on schools teaching the Moldovan language using the Latin alphabet, the court said on its website.
Russia “is seriously concerned over the ruling,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Moldova, a former Soviet republic, reverted to using Latin script shortly before independence.
In neighboring Transdnestr, Latin-script Moldovan has been banned since 1994, although Cyrillic-script Moldovan remains an official language.
Russia must pay, the court said, because "[Transdnestr] could not survive without Russia’s continued military, economic and political support and that the closure of the schools therefore fell within Russia’s jurisdiction under the Convention.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected that reasoning and said the decision was a setback for those who are working hard "to restore trust and constructive dialog and arrive at a realistic agreement on a broad range of issues, including cooperation in education.”
Over the past 100 years, written Moldovan has alternated between using the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, roughly corresponding to the periods when either Romania or the Soviet Union held sway in the territory.