Despite Moscow’s Hopes, Tatar Leader hasn’t Ended Fight over Putin’s Language Law
September 24 – Kommersant says today that
Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov’s address to the republic State Council
in which he supported the new education law which makes the study of
non-Russian languages voluntary while keeping instruction in Russian mandatory “puts
an end to the language question” (kommersant.ru/doc/3751742).
in fact, as the paper’s own report of Minnikhanov’s speech and of the comments
of other Tatar officials makes clear, the Kazan leadership clearly plans to
continue the fight for the republic language, albeit within the more limited
possibilities that Vladimir Putin’s language law makes possible.
the one hand, Minnikhanov himself called not only for improving instruction in
Tatar thus making it a more attractive choice for parents but also for
exploring all the possibilities for increasing the use of non-Russian languages
that he said he sees in recent remarks by Putin about the need to ensure their survival.
on the other, as Kommersant reports,
there are many officials in Tatarstan who will now work to put pressure on
parents to choose Tatar as the native language in which their children will be
educated rather than Russian which is what the Kremlin leader clearly hoped and
even though the republics, including Tatarstan have lost the battle over the
language law, they are not conceding that they have lost the war between
themselves and Moscow about that critical subject. Instead, they are choosing
to fight back in new ways, ones that the center may find it more difficult to
combat now that it has “won” on the law.
this new fight is one that is likely to involve even more officials and serve
as a nationalizing force, exactly the opposite of what Putin and his team of
Russianizers and Russifiers hope for.