Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Putin Not NATO is ‘Transforming Russia into Muscovy,’ Shtepa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 27 – Vladimir Putin, who frequently accuses NATO of wanting to “transform Russia into Muscovy,” is in fact doing more than anyone else to promote that outcome, according to Vadim Shtepa, the editor of the Tallinn-based regionalist portal, Region.Expert.

            This can be seen in the Kremlin leader’s new language law which seeks to purge Russian of foreign words, exactly the opposite of what the Petersburg imperial authorities did when they willingly accepting words from other languages ( reposted at

            This current effort, Shtepa continues, will lead to exactly the opposite effect its authors hope for. “They would like to ‘strengthen’ Russian but in reality they will lead to its geographic dismemberment.” The tsars suppressed regional dialects to promote an imperial language but ow those dialects and others based in other countries will revive and become ever rore different.

            “Something similar happened historically with English and Spanish,” the regionalist continues. “They also at a certain period were imperial languages based on a single set of rules, but they when they began to be used in independent countries,” that unity fell apart with each speaking an English or a Spanish reflecting local conditions.

            Up to now, Shtepa says, “Russia is considered in Moscow to be a ‘mono-centric’ tongue” with the rules set in the center. Indeed, until very recently, many Russian media outlets in Estonia even followed those rules. But that is changing and linguistic diversity among various Russian languages is undermining the imperial nature of the language and the state.

            (The Tallinn-based regionalist points to the work of Tomasz Kamusella on this point. See “Russian: A Monocentric or Pluricentric Language?Colloquia Humanistica 7 (2018) at; in Russian at

            According to Shtepa, “the development of ‘local Russian languages’ in various countries does not depend at all on whether they have an official status there or not. For example, English in the US is not a state language but that in no way has prevented the Americans from putting out textbooks on American English.”

            Indeed, as Winston Churchill famously observed, this process has gone on so long and so thoroughly that the British and the Americans are now divided by what people in both countries proudly but mistakenly believe is their common English language.

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