Staunton, December 14 – Vladimir Putin insists that there is no language conflict in Russia; but an event at the press conference where he made that declaration is yet another indication that his claims in that regard are not true, reducing still further confidence that his promise not to forcefully amalgamate regions and republics will be kept.
He called on a journalist from Tatarstan who held up a sign reading “Putin-Babay,” Tatar for “Grandfather Putin,” what she subsequently explained is what children in Tatarstan call him. But the Kremlin leader gave it a very different and perhaps in his mind more sinister meaning when he read it as “Putin Bye-Bye” (idelreal.org/a/28917772.html and chernovik.net/content/lenta-novostey/vladimir-putin-sdelal-sebe-bay-bay).
Responding to her question concerning what the journalist described as the intensification of language issues in Russia and concerns about the amalgamation of regions and republics, Putin said that there is no such conflict in Russia and that he will never forcibly amalgamate regions even though economic considerations would dictate that.
“Our goal,” the Kremlin leader said, “is to create equal starting conditions for all children. If people know their national language but don’t know Russian well, this will be bad for the children in Tatarstan” who need to know Russian to pursue higher education and careers across the country.
At the same time, he said that people must be given “the chance to study their native languages,” something many non-Russian feel his policies about the obligatory study of Russian and the voluntary study of any other language preclude, because “cultural and linguistic multiplicity is our treasure.”
Putin then addressed the issue of amalgamation. He said that he “wanted to be heard in the national republics” in particular. “We will never insist” on amalgamation however economically beneficial it might be. Any people, small or large, must choose the most optimal form of coexistence with other peoples of Russia.”
“There are no plans and cannot be any government plans for the amalgamation of the regions,” the Kremlin leader said, a claim that is not only belied by his own actions in the past but also by the statements of his officials. (See, for example, the statement of his plenipotentiary representative to the Volga federal district just ten days ago (idelreal.org/a/28896051.html).)