Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Neither North Caucasus Republics nor Their Peoples Doing Enough to Defend Their Languages against Moscow’s Attacks, Four Kabardino-Balkar Scholars Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 20 – Moscow is entirely responsible for the drive to Russianize and then Russify the peoples of the North Caucasus by destroying the languages of the nations of that region, but neither the governments of the republics there nor members of their titular nationalities are doing much to resist, four Kabardino-Balkar scholars say.

            Unless both the republic governments and the populations resist, they tell the Kavkaz-Uzel news agency, the languages of the region will be on the way to extinction and along with them its once-proud nations as well, a development that will cost them their future and Russia the diversity on which its future depends (

            Zaurbek Kozhev, a historian at the Institute of Humanities Research at the KBR Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that “the local authorities are doing nothing for the defense of the rights of the peoples of the republic.” They aren’t acting to destroy them but they aren’t resisting them and cut language courses in schools to save money.

            According to the scholar, the authorities simply lack the resources to do otherwise or even the understanding of why defending languages is so important. He calls for the intelligentsia of all the North Caucasus republics to come together to push their republic leaders to do more. The intelligentsia will have to take the lead because the people can’t.

            Fatima Kharayeva, head of the North Caucasus Institute of Administration, says that those concerned with the defense of non-Russian languages must recognize that economic as well as political factors are involved. Moscow is achieving its goals by starving the republics of resources forcing republic leaders have no choice but to cut instruction in national languages.

            Aslanbek Mirzooyev, a colleague of Kozhev’s, agrees; but he argues that the situation can only be reversed if the population comes to recognize the nature of the threat and then organizes to meet it. Otherwise, there is a very real possibility that in the not so distant future, the languages of the North Caucasus will be lost.

            And Indira Guzeyeva, an activist with the Republic as a Common Task, argues that the intelligentsia and the population must work together not only to put pressure on the republic authorities to save non-Russian language instruction in the schools but to promote the use of IT to help young people learn the language beyond school walls.

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