Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Pushkin Institute Head Calls for Teaching Russian in Non-Russian Republics as a Foreign Language

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 21 – The Russian Duma’s committee on nationality affairs hosted a roundtable to discuss what Moscow’s next steps should be in dealing with nationality problems. The committee’s head, Gennady Semigin, said major changes were needed because the country’s nationality policy isn’t working.

            Apparently agreement on that point is so widespread that officials and experts now feel free to offer both the kind of criticism rarely heard earlier and proposals that have never been made before (nazaccent.ru/content/39302-izmenenie-podhoda-k-nacpolitike-obsudili-v-profilnom-dumskom-komitete.html).

            One participant, Senator Grigory Ledkov, asked why the Institute for the Peoples of the North should continue to exist and spend money if it can’t recruit students as Vladimir Putin has ordered it to do. And another, Margarita Lange of the Guild of Interethnic Journalism, said Moscow specialists were so incapable of communicating their ideas that ever more people in Russia are taking the from the Internet, something she says threatens Russia’s future.

            But the most remarkable intervention came from Natalya Trukhanovskaya, the rector of Moscowl’s Pushkin Institute of the Russian Language. She called for teaching Russian to non-Russians in the non-Russian republics not as a second native language but as “a foreign language.”

            That would undermine Putin’s vision of the Russian world and only reinforce the views of those in the non-Russian republics who already see Moscow as something foreign that they are right and that even at the center people are beginning to recognize that reality. Trukhanovskaya’s proposal won’t be accepted, but the fact she made it is a sign of the times.

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