Wednesday, June 8, 2022

For Putin, All ‘Russian Speaking Space is Automatically Russian’ Politically, Kuznetsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 22 – Any place where Russian is the dominant language, no matter the reason, is in Vladimir Putin’s imperial understanding, “automatically” Russian in the political sense and should be part of Russia, according to Ukrainian writer and linguist Yevgeniya Kuznetsova.

            From Stalin on, Moscow promoted the Russian language to such an extent that only those who spoke it could be fully integrated into society and have access to what possibilities there were, she says. That remains true for non-Russians within the current borders of the Russian Federation (

            And that experience, Kuznetsova suggests, forms a basic part of Putin’s worldview and leads him to conclude that if minorities in the Russian Federation or non-Russians abroad speak Russian, they are ab initio Russians and should be part of the Russian world and ideally part of a single Russian empire.

            That is an experience which ethnic minorities within Russia and Ukrainians share, and the experience of the former shows the latter what awaits them if Putin succeeds in imposing his rule on portions of Ukraine. Indeed, this Soviet approach has already been adopted in Russian-occupied Crimea and the Donbass.

            And overcoming this, either by reverting to their national languages or by insisting that their use of Russian is a matter of choice without political consequences are fundamental to the survival of their nations and the state formations, the linguist says.

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