Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Danger Sign for the Future: Moscow Media Go Beserk about Language in Sakha School

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 2 – A school in Sakha created for Sakha speakers has provoked outrage in the Moscow media, forced the authorities in the Sakha Republic to gut its program, and providesd a possible indication of how Russian officials plan to do away with any efforts in the republics to save their titular languages.

            Over the past few days, the Moscow media have been filled with horrified reports that a school in Sakha is not admitting Russian children in violation of the law and good sense and that the situation must be rectified now. (For examples, see,, and

            The facts of the case are both less and more alarming than the Russian media in Moscow suggest, the Region.Expert portal says ( The school in question is located in the 203rd micro-district of Yakutsk, one of the few Sakha language schools there and whose opening parents have sought for 14 years (

            Because the neighborhood was new and growing so rapidly, Region.Expert reports, “the city authorities simply did not foresee the need for the construction of ordinary general educational schools.” When Russian-speaking parents tried to register their children at this one school, they were told they would need to take them to another.

            Russian parents were outraged as what they saw as “’discrimination’” and began to complain to city, republic and country authorities. That had consequences which are absurd in the short term and a threat to the survival of non-Russian education over the longer haul.

            The Sakha-language school was forced to stop being that and instead to offer several different programs with various languages of instruction even though it continues to be called “a national school ( That could easily become the model of how the Russian authorities will behave to any attempt at maintaining non-Russian schools – keeping the name so they will be counted as such but eliminating their content.

            What is especially distressing, Region.Expert says, is that the new Yakutsk mayor, Sardana Avksentiya, whom many have viewed as independent-minded, quickly fell in line with the demands of the Moscow media and quite likely of Moscow officials on this issue (

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