Staunton, November 30 – For almost a century, Moscow has wanted the Russian language to be a common state language for all the peoples of Russia and a native language for ethnic Russians, Ayrat Fayzrakhmanov says. But now, it is demanding that Russian not be “non-native” for non-Russians “as if it were a foreign language.”
Putin advisor Vladimir Tolstoy made that clear at the Yekaterinburg meeting of the Council on Russian language, the Tatar historian says, when he declared that “for citizens of Russia, Russian cannot and must not be non-native as if it were a foreign language” (business-gazeta.ru/article/447855).
Tolstoy’s statement means that “the goal of the language policy being carried out consists not simply in the support of Russian as the state language or as a means of interethnic communication but in an effort to make it the native language of every resident of the country,” something that would be achieved at the expense of the non-Russian languages.
Not only is such an effort certain to spark resentment among the speakers of non-Russian languages like Tatar but it will make it far harder to promote Russian abroad given that most languages with an international reach are far more tolerant to those who speak other tongues lest they provoke a reaction, the Tatar historian continues.
In addition to this threat, Fayzrakhmanov says, the Tatar nation faces at least 19 more, all of which should be addressed if the nation and its language are to have a future:
2. Loss of a Sense of Greater Tatarstan
3. Super-Centralization and Defederalization of the Russian Federation
4. Inability to Defend Tatar Culture through the Legal System
5. Low Social and Economic Prestige of the Tatar Langauge
6. Rapid Assimilation
7. Loss of a National Educational System
8. Weakening of Historical Consciousness and Memory
10. Increasing Inter-Ethnic Marriages
11. Depopulation of the Mono-Ethnic Tatar Countryside
12. Lack of National Resources
13. Russian-Language Globalization
14. Loss of Ethnic Identity among Urban Residents
15. Archaic Nature of Most Definitions of Tatar Identity
16. State Monopoly on Articulation of Tatar Identity and Culture
17. Dispersal of Tatars and Growing Divide between “Tatarstan Tatars” and the Others
18. Lack of United Organizations
19. Weakening of Tatar Intellectual and Ideological Centers