Russian language knowledge declining in country’s non-Russian republics, Barinov says

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

Image: Euromaidan Press 

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Despite the insistence of Moscow officials that everyone in the Russian Federation speaks Russian and that therefore support for other languages is ever less necessary, Igor Barinov, head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, says that there has been a decline in Russian language knowledge in the non-Russian republics.

That trend is undoubtedly worrisome to the center because it echoes the pattern that took place among non-Russians in the union republics in the final years of the Soviet Union and thus suggests Vladimir Putin’s confidence that the Russian language will hold his country together may be misplaced.

But Barinov’s acknowledgement almost certainly presages a new push by the center to introduce even more Russian language instruction in the non-Russian schools, something republic leaders and populations are likely to oppose and that thus sets the stage for a new round of conflict over language use and much else.

Speaking to the second All-Russian Seminar-Conference on Language Policy in Education: An Instrument for the Formation of All-Russian Civic Identity yesterday, Barinov acknowledged that this trend away from Russian language knowledge is also notable among numerically small peoples who lack autonomy and among immigrants.

In his remarks, the nationalities chief said that

increasingly children in non-Russian areas and among immigrants enter school without a solid knowledge of Russian and that forces the schools to devote more time to Russian language instruction at the expense of other subjects in the curriculum.

He noted that more money has to be found for pre-school Russian language instruction despite budgetary shortages, adding that pilot programs that had been introduced in some republics had been effective but have been recently eliminated because of reductions in the amount of money allocated for education.

Barinov’s words are thus another reminder of the ways in which Vladimir Putin’s military buildup is reducing rather than increasing Russia’s national integration and security, a development that he and other Russians may soon come to rue.



Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar Matt Franklin says:

    Language of a dysfunctional race of people. Understandable.

  2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:


  3. Avatar Alex George says:

    Russia doesn’t have the resources to pursue Putin;s foreign adventures AND rebuild its society. It can do one, but not both.

    The Russian empire and the USSR were able to do so, but there are two key differences: (i) both those entities included Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia, thus giving them far greater resources than Russia today; and (ii) they also kept their foreign ventures limited. When they did not (e.g. Nicholas II in the Far East and WWI, or USSR in Afghanistan) the strains quickly became apparent.

    Putin and his cronies don’t realise this. They are spending large amounts in Syria but even more in keeping forces on alert around Ukraine, and at the same time the domestic situation is slipping away from them.

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      Even without the Stans, Belarus, the Baltics and the Ukraine Dwarfstan has huge natural resources. Much of the revenue they generate is being siphoned off, not least by the dwarf, and transferred to offshore bank accounts; much of what remains is wasted. Properly managed and governed, the country has vast potential. Under present and foreseeable leadership, it doesn’t, resulting in Dwarfstan’s inevitable terminal decline.

  4. Avatar MichaelA says:

    has there been a great russian writer since solzhenitysyn?

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      If you include the former USSR countries, I would consider Belarusian author Svitlana Alexievich a Great Russian Writer.