Staunton, Sept. 29 – Vladimir Putin’s decision to end the requirement that everyone in non-Russian republics study the language of the titular nationality has attracted enormous attention, but it is far from the only way that the Kremlin is proceeding in order to undermine non-Russian languages.
The requirement that all who aspire to higher educations take the unified educational examination is another. Because that is offered only in Russian, parents and children have a compelling reason to study only in Russian and to use the time they had devoted to their non-Russian languages to study courses that will help them pass that test.
That too has attracted much attention. But in the hybrid war the Kremlin is conducting against the non-Russian languages and hence the non-Russian nations who speak them a third weapon may prove even more devastating because it goes after precisely those students who have elected to study the non-Russian languages.
That method is to print far too few textbooks in those languages to meet demand. And when there are no textbooks, pupils and their parents will have little choice but to study other courses, in Russian, where there are no such shortages. That is what is happening in Kabardino-Balkaria, and it is sparking protests.
Parents and ethnic activists say that this fall in that republic there simply aren’t any textbooks in Kabardinian (Circassian) in schools from the first to the eleventh grade and that this represents yet another Russian effort to engage in “the ethnocide of the Circassians” (zapravakbr.ru/index.php/video/1734-otsutstvie-uchebnikov-po-rodnomu-yazyku-yavlyaetsya-odnim-iz-faktov-etnotsida-adygov and zapravakbr.ru/index.php/30-uncategorised/1731-v-respublike-slozhilas-katastroficheskaya-situatsiya-s-obespecheniem-uchebnikami-i-uchebnymi-posobiyami-po-rodnomu-kabardino-cherkesskomu-yazyku).
They have organized protest meetings and met with republic officials to try to force the powers that be to change course and supply Circassian-language textbooks for the republic’s schools. But so far they have had no success. It is entirely likely that what Moscow is doing to the Circassians in this regard, it has or soon will do to other non-Russian nations as well.