Moscow returning to tsarist Russification policies, Chuvash activist says

Russian state language policy: In Russia you may speak any language, as long as it is Russian (Image: Euromaidan Press)

Image: Euromaidan Press 

2015/06/11 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The reduction in the role of non-Russian languages in Russia and their being driven out of many public spaces even in their homelands is “no accident and no indication that a multi-lingual society cannot be built but rather evidence of the existence of an intentional state policy for building a Russian nation state,” according to Chuvash activist Pochash Chupin.

Russia today is “oppressing non-Russian languages” not because it doesn’t know how to support them but because it has chosen not to do so, he continues; and in the future if nothing changes, “all non-Russians will be treated as little more than guests, as candidates for Russification and no more than that.”

Thus, he says, it should come as no surprise to anyone that “the leadership of the Russian Federation is so attracted to the pre-revolutionary period” when so much of what it is doing now was first practiced, when “there was the Russification of Poland and Finland. Now exactly the same situation exists in the non-Russian regions of the Russian Federation.”

“This is not the absence of a language and nationality policy” as some have suggested, Chupin says. “It is not the absence of experience of building a multi-cultural society.” Instead, “it is a conscious choice” and a clear manifestation of “state nationalism” which threatens the future of all non-Russians.

The Chuvash writer offers this conclusion at the end of a long article in which he discusses the state of “bilingualism” in the Russian Federation. According to him, there is no true bilingualism among non-Russians now because the state-promoted status of Russian is so high that at best there is a situation in which people use “one and a half languages.”

“The absolute domination of the Russian language in all upper reaches of society” is obvious, he points out. At the federal level, the system exists “exclusively in Russian,” and even in the non-Russian republics thanks to the educational system and government policy, “Russian rules” as well.

The future of non-Russian languages in the Russian Federation, despite the official recognition of 40 of them and a Constitutional declaration that they are to enjoy equal rights, is thus very bleak indeed.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • puttypants

    Did he forget the Russification of especially of Ukraine, Estonia etc., during the communist period? However, I believe if you are part of Russia than the language in government and business should be the language of the country you are part of. Otherwise, how do people communicate with each other? However, your own ethnic language can also be spoken anywhere you choose.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Not only during the communist period. The Russification programme existed in Tsarist days as the article correctly points out. Ukrainian writers such as Nikolai Gogol couldn’t get their work published in Ukrainian.
      Problem for Putin is that about 22% of the population is non-Russian and he will be creating tensions in the country- tensions that contributed to the downfall of the USSR.

      • W8post

        “1847 Shevchenko was convicted for writing in Ukrainian language” just saying…

  • W8post

    “The reduction in the role of non-Russian languages”; what about the reduction of ‘non-Ukrainian’ languages. This, of course, does not fit Herr Puto’s scene!
    I mentioned this before: take an example of Belgium and Switzerland. There is no Belgian nor Swiss language; still, people communicate with each other, including the Governments.

  • Michel Cloarec

    One feels the fears of mr putin ! he wants to rule the world , he has against him , the spanish language, the mandarin , english/american language. It will take 1000 years to spray another language on the planet ! PATHETIC !

  • Nowhere Girl

    “Russia today is “oppressing non-Russian languages” not because it doesn’t know how to support them but because it has chosen not to do so”I believe it could be said, as well, that Russia doesn’t know how to support non-Russian languages – because it has never tried to.

  • Vol Ya

    Just more proof that putin is running a fascist dictatorship and he wants to exterminate all minorities. That sure sounds like fascism to me.