Friday, August 17, 2018

Two-Thirds of Bashkortostan Students Elect Russian as Native Language

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 17 – Ufa has announced that 63.05 percent of all students in that Middle Volga republic have elected Russian as their native language of instruction, a figure that vastly exceeds the 35.8 percent of ethnic Russians there and one that means that many Bashkirs and Tatars who form 29 and 25 percent of the population there are doing the same.

            Only 15.6 percent of students elected to study in Bashkir and only 9.45 percent chose to study in Tatar, again figures far below the share of those nationalities in the republic and ones that suggest Putin’s campaign to make the study of non-Russian languages entirely voluntary is going to hit non-Russian languages hard (

            On the one hand, he situation in Bashkortostan for the language of the titular nationality in fact may be even worse than these figures suggest because the Bashkirs have a higher birthrate than do the ethnic Russians and thus the percentage of Bashkirs in younger age groups is likely to be higher than their percentage in the population as a whole.

            But on the other, the Bashkirs, precisely because they are a minority in their own republic, have been more inclined to speak Russian than nationalities in other republics may be and consequently, these figures from Bashkortostan may be worse than will be the case in other republics.

            However, in the coming weeks other republics will be weighing in with similar reports, and if the republics follow this pattern, Putin’s program to Russianize and ultimately Russify the non-Russians via the educational system will be working as he intends and as many non-Russians fear.

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