Friday, September 7, 2018

Almost Half of Ethnic Russians in Tatarstan say Republic Should be Bilingual

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 7 – Seventy-one percent of the residents of Tatarstan say the republic should be bilingual, a figure that means almost half of that federal subject’s ethnic Russians favor that outcome given that 53 percent of the population are Tatars and 39 percent are ethnic Russians.

            That poll result was presented by Liliya Nizamova, a sociologist at Kazan Federal University at a conference on “The Positive Experience of Studying and Regulating Ethno-Social and Ethno-Cultural Processes in Regions of the Russian Federation” ( in Tatar and in Russian).

            She asked 1990 people “how should the language situation in Tatarstan develop?” Nineteen percent responded that Russian should be the language “in all spheres” of life, while 4.5 percent said that the language should be Tatar. But 71 percent said bilingualism should be the basis for Tatarstan’s development.

            Nizamova also asked over the past summer “Do you consider that pupils should have the chance to take the state educational exam in their native language?” Just over half of the sample – 52 percent – said yes, 28.4 percent said no, and 19.5 percent found it difficult to give any answer.

                Taken together, these numbers suggest that in Tatarstan at least, there is far less support among ethnic Russians for Russian as opposed to other languages than many in Moscow have been suggesting and far more tolerance for the development of various language communities. To the extent that is true, such attitudes may slow Vladimir Putin’s Russianization drive.

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