Staunton, November 27 – Speaking at a session of Tatarstan’s State Council, deputy Rkail Zaydulla said that with the attack on Tatar and other languages of the non-Russian peoples of the Russian Federation, “the destruction of the national foundations of the republics is taking place.”
If the republics are deprived of their languages, he suggested, they will have little justification for continuing to exist; and so the attack on languages is a new salvo in Moscow’s campaign to do away with the non-Russian republics and complete the destruction of federalism in Russia (idel-ural.org/archives/депутат-татарстанского-парламента-и/).
Many non-Russians and those sympathetic to them certainly feel that way, but it is extremely rare for anyone so politically prominent as Zaydulla to make such a declaration in public. And his decision to do so suggests that fears about the direction in which the Kremlin is moving are deepening rapidly and perhaps approaching a crisis point.
Zaydulla, 57, is a poet and translator and can be expected to feel the impact of language change more closely than many. But he is also a supporter of the party of power, United Russia, and thus his break with the official position of that party and its Kremlin bosses is especially striking.
Last summer, after being elected to the State Council, he said that he would use his time in office to promote instruction in Tatar and the development of Tatar national culture. Since then, he has insistently called for allowing Tatars and other non-Russians to take the school leaving exams in their national languages and not just in Russian as is the case now.