Saturday, June 23, 2018

North Caucasians Outraged Their Deputies Did Not Vote Against Putin’s Language Bill

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 23 – North Caucasians on social networks are expressing outrage at the fact that none of the 26 Duma deputies voted against the Putin-backed measure to make the study of all languages but Russian voluntary. In the event, 19 voted for the measure, and nine did not take part in the voting.

            Bloggers say that this reflected “cowardice” on the part of their representatives who caved to pressure from above rather than reflecting the clearly expressed views of the people in their regions, the Kavkaz-Uzel news agency reports (;  cf.

            Before the vote, Yushaa Gazgireyev, a United Russia deputy from Ingushetia, said that “the adoption of the bill in the form offered creates a threat to the multi-national nature of the Russian Federatio” and Zaur Gekkiyev, a United Russia deputy from Kabardino-Balkaria, asked that it be pulled and replaced. But neither voted against.

            It is true that one of the three deputies who voted against was a former Daghestani official, Rizvan Kurbanov, who is a member of the KPRF. But at present, he doesn’t represent the republic. Instead, he is part of regional group which represents occupied Crimea, occupied Sevastopol, and Kaliningrad.

            Nine deputies from Daghestan voted for the measure, while three each from Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia did so, and one each from Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Ingushetia.  But not one of the deputies from Chechnya voted for the measure. However, they didn’t vote against but rather did not participate in the voting.

            For their failure to vote note, one blogger denounced them for “cowardice,” while another said that “not voting was equivalent to voting yes.” Further, yet a third said, “not voting ‘against’ is anything but courageous.” Bloggers attacked all those who voted in favor for undermining the future of their national languages.

            There are as yet no indications that anyone in the North Caucasus hopes to initiate recall movements as is already the case in Tatarstan (, but people in the North Caucasus are clearly just as angry as are non-Russians in the Middle Volga who are now translating their anger into actions.

            In Bashkortostan, the government decided that every school in the republic must from now on fly the republic flag (, and some in Tatarstan are saying that they intend to fight to keep the title “president” for the head of their republic (

            If this pattern spreads, those who warned that Putin’s language policies could cause far more problems for Moscow than he could ever imagine. 

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