Friday, January 22, 2021

Moscow Will Be Able to Save Russian Only Where People have Economic Interests in Russia, ‘Nezavsimaya Gazeta’ Warns

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 20 – Vladimir Putin has made the maintenance and expansion of the Russian language a key element of his push for a pan-national “Russian world,” but the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta warn that the Kremlin leader’s push is failing and will continue to fail except where people in other countries have strong economic ties with Russia.

            In a lead article today, the editors survey the situation the Russian language finds itself across the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. From Putin’s perspective, the picture is anything but encouraging. Not only has Russian language use declined, but official support for it in most countries has fallen (

            Below are the results of its survey:

·         In Ukraine, officials are promoting Ukrainian actively and pushing Russian out of public life. The profess has gone “peacefully,” although people in the western part of the country have gone furthest away from Russian while those in the eastern part continue to use it in their homes.

·         In Belarus, Russian has equal status with Belarusian as the state language, “but in recent times,” the editors say, “the attitude toward Russian has begun to change.” Alyaksandr Lukashenka has called for excluding Russian broadcasts into the country, and the opposition which looks to the West has called for dropping Russian’s current status.

·         In Kazakhstan, “Russian occupies strong positions.” It has official status and remains “the language of inter-ethnic communication.” But even there, Kazakh is driving out Russian as a state language, although the process is still relatively slow.

·         In Moldova, the former president restored the status of Russian as a state language and ended the ban on translation of Russian television channels to that country. But his successor opposes those moves and can be expected to work against them.

·         In Kyrgyzstan, Russian has official status; but while the language issue is not serious, there exists the potential that it will become so given the influence of the West.

·         In Armenia, Russian has the status of a foreign language and there are practically no Russian-language schools.

·         In Azerbaijan, there are 327 Russian-language schools in which about 90,000 pupils study in Russian, In addition, some 450,000 more study Russian as their second foreign language.

·         In Uzbekistan, “Russian is beginning to be forgotten. In national schools, pupils study it only two hours a week.

·         In Tajikistan, it is the language of inter-ethnic communication. It is studied mostly by those who hope to go to Russia as migrant workers.

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