Staunton, July 17 – Yesterday, the presidium of the Russian Presidential Council on Inter-Ethnic Relations met to discuss the issues they will raise when they meet with Vladimir Putin sometime in the fall. The Nazaccent news agency focused on the remarks of two of its members.
Academician Valery Tishkov directed the attention of participants to the exodus of non-titular nationalities from the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation, a trend that he says “entails the danger of isolationism” in them (nazaccent.ru/content/27712-chleny-prezidentskogo-soveta-obsudili-svyaz-nacpolitiki.html).
The former nationalities minister added that “programs for returning ethnic Russians to the republics have not given any tangible results.”
He noted that according to his data, “the composition of the population of the Russian Federation is changing in the direction of an increase of Turkic, Daghestani, and Vainakh peoples and the reduction in the number of Finno-Ugric and Slavic ones.” But Slavs still account for “more than 80 percent,” and so this should not provoke any fears.
The other speaker Nazaccent reported on was former sports figure Vitaly Mutko who was attending the council for the first time. The agency said that he “demonstrated knowledge and interest” about nationality issues and welcomed his promise to resuscitate the inter-agency nationalities working group that Aleksandr Khloponin only convened once.
But Mutko’s most intriguing remark, if Nazaccent reported his words correctly, was his assertion that native languages must not be option if one is speaking about the official language of the republic.” If Mutko actually said that, his position would be the exact opposite of Vladimir Putin’s, something that seems very hard to believe.
But if this report is accurate, Mutko will have already won himself support among many non-Russians, something that could help him recover from his disgrace as the man most prominently associated with the doping scandal that has marred Russian sports since the time of the Sochi Olympiad.