Among the small library of books on Russian history I’m weaving between like a bee among blossoms is Orlando Figes’s massive A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution : 1891-1924, where on page 81 I found the following passage in a section on enforced Russianization:
But if forbidding [Polish] high-school students to speak in Polish was merely harsh (at least they had learned to speak in Russian), to do the same to railway porters (most of whom had never learned Russian, which as ‘public officials’ they were ordered to speak) was to enter into the cruelly surreal. This was not the only act of bureaucratic madness. In 1907 the medical committee in Kiev Province refused to allow cholera epidemic notices to be published in Ukrainian with the result that many of the peasants, who could not read Russian, died from drinking infected water.
And there are people who want to enforce similar English-only policies in the United States. Forward into the cruelly surreal, comrades!