Staunton, March 4 – Having deprived republics of the power to insist all children on their territories study the titular languages in school, Moscow is now moving to strip them of the right to refer to their republic languages as “state languages,” another step toward a reduction in their status and use (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/03/moscow-wants-to-strip-republic.html).
That is already generating a backlash. Stepan Petrov, head of the Yakutia-Our Opinion’ organization, says that such a move could be “the forerunner of an intensification of the processes of the centralization of power as a result of which the regions would finally be deprived of their independence” (asiarussia.ru/news/26817/).
There is no question, the activist continues, that this will be met with protests in and by the non-Russian republics. “Language is part of culture. Downgrading national languages will lead to the loss of national identity” and represent a serious violation of the rights of the republics under the constitution.
The very notion that Moscow might do that is “impermissible in a multi-national country.” Worse, the appearance of such ideas risks creating the conditions for the rise of extremism and separatism. Indeed, in the Russian Federation today, “the situation continues to deteriorate.”
Petrov says that in his view, Moscow may use the new constitutional provision allowing for the creation of “federal territories,” directly administered from the center and now subject to administration by regions or republics. If Moscow created such territories within the non-Russian republics, it could impose a Russian-only regime there in an ostensibly legal way.
And that possibility, the Sakha activist says, is especially frightening and certain to provoke opposition as well because it “threatens the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the national republics of Russia” by the “unilateral action” of Moscow against the non-Russians who would in this way be “expelled from their own lands” or subject to intensive assimilation.