Staunton, January 27 – The Kremlin clearly believes that the Russian language will unify Russia, but in promoting it at the expense of the non-Russian languages, the center appears to have forgotten that Islamist radicals seeking to recruit Muslims in Russia use Russian rather than any of the non-Russian languages, Sergey Arutyunov says.
“The Salafites and Wahhabis disseminate instructions on how to make a bomb in Russian,” the Moscow ethnographer says. “More than that, they also distribute religious literature and ideological propaganda in Russian.” They don’t in any case use one of the non-Russian languages (kavkazr.com/a/yazyk-tvoy-vrag-moy/29001889.html).
From that it follows, although this is not a point that Arutyunov makes, that the more Moscow promotes Russian rather than the non-Russian languages among the country’s Muslim population, the easier rather than the more difficult it will be for radicals both domestic and foreign to reach the members of that religious community.
Further, he points out that the experience of the Irish shows a nation which is deprived of its language may become more nationalistic than if it is allowed to retain its own historical language. That suggests that in at least some cases, the non-Russian peoples of the Russian Federation may become more nationalistic once they lose their own languages.
There is a closer precedent for this in the Russian experience. In Soviet times, non-Russians who couldn’t get a job they wanted because they didn’t know Russian were often angry about that; but non-Russians who couldn’t do so even after they learned Russian were often even more so.
In the latter case, such people could see that they were being discriminated against because of their nationality rather than their language, a far more wounding thing and one that helps to explain the rise of nationalism among superficially Sovietized groups in many union republic nations of the USSR.
Instead of worrying about these possibilities, however, Russian officials appear to be worried about something even closer to home, Arutyunov suggests. If non-Russians succeed in requiring all republic officials to speak their language, “then Russians will lose their places” because they don’t know those languages.
In many places in the North Caucasus, many Russian officials clearly fear that that could happen to them.