Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Putin’s Attack on Non-Russian Languages Prompting Young North Caucasians to Create Independent Spaces to Promote Them, Pukhayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 5 – In the five years since Vladimir Putin ordered that the study of non-Russian languages be voluntary, the situation of non-Russian languages has deteriorated. But in reaction to that, young people in the North Caucasus have promoted the development of public spaces where ethnic content and languages are being kept alive, Alik Pukhayev says.

            The North Ossetian blogger says youth there are reacting in this way for two reasons. On the one hand, many still feel attached to their nations. But on the other and perhaps more importantly, they resent being told what to do and therefore are identifying with ethnic markers such as language (

            He cites other observers in the region, including prominent blogger Batraz Misikov, as having reached a similar conclusion: Misikov for one has written that “the fashoion for everything national was and remains a unique reaction to government pressure from above,” including the assimilationist effort of recent years.

Young people have received some support from scholars ( and from the population which “no longer has any illusions about the notion that the federal center is interested in the preservation of the identities of ‘the non-state forming peoples of Russia,” Pukhayev says.

Instead, they recognize that Moscow is committed “to the establishment of a homogeneous population which will massively take part in its imperial project. The Russian state has made serious progress in this regard, “but there is a trend in the opposite direction,” the blogger suggests; and it deserves attention.

There are “a growing number of young people from the republics involved in the work of creating information infrastructures independent from the state which will allow the preservation of identity and stimulate the study of native languages,” often virtually (

These independently organized language spaces are helping to promote “numerous horizontal ties among representatives of various ethnic communities and the formation of opposition to [Moscow’s] current policies,” Pukhayev argues, an indication that the victories Putin may be winning in the schools, he is losing elsewhere.

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