Thursday, September 30, 2021

Moscow Pushing Russian Not to Promote Russian Nationalism but to Make Controlling Non-Russians Easier, Circassian Activist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 26 – Many non-Russians believe that the Kremlin is pushing the Russian language because of Moscow’s interest in promoting Russian nationalism, Murat Temirov says. But that is incorrect. The Russian government’s approach is entirely pragmatic. If everyone speaks the same language, it will be easier for the center to control all nationalities.

            The Circassian activist tells London’s Al Araby that “at the present time, the Russian government is excluding the languages of the indigenous peoples in order to make the Russian language the main and even unique one” but that it isn’t doing so “from nationalistic motives”

            Instead, Temirov suggests, it is acting on the basis of a “pragmatic” calculation that a single language will make it easier to “control” all ethnic communities, including presumably the Russians as well (شركس-روسيا-يبحثون-عن-حفظ-الهوية  in Arabic; and in Russian).

            But the Circassian activist devotes most of his attention to what he say are “the key tasks” of his nation, “the preservation of its culture and tradition, the repatriation of Circassians living in Syria [to their North Caucasus homeland] and recognition of the 19th century genocide of the Circassian people [by the Russian imperial authorities].”

            He says that Circassians both in the homeland and in the many countries where as many as ten million Circassians now live have exploited the electronic universe to promote the survival and spread of their language, but he acknowledges that achieving their goal in that regard is made difficulty because of “the discrimination against languages of ethnic minorities in Russia.”

            Recognition of the genocide is important but not nearly as important as preserving the language and culture of the nation and securing the return of Circassians from Syria to the homeland. That is “not simply a question of achieving historical justice; it is more than that the resolution of a humanitarian problem.”

            The Circassians of Syria have been pressuring Moscow since the war began a decade ago, citing the provisions of the Russian constitution and Russian law, but the Kremlin has not moved to meet their demands. Republics within Russia which have a Circassian population have developed their own programs, but as yet these are too small to satisfy the need.

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