Broad coalition of non-Russians launch Internet petition drive against Putin’s language policies

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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Representatives of a significant cross-section of non-Russian nations now within the borders of the Russian Federation have launched an online petition on Change.org to oppose Moscow’s plans to make the study of non-Russian languages entirely voluntary while keeping the study of Russian compulsory.

Ayrat Fayzrakhmanov, a Tatar who is a member of the group behind this drive says that if the draft law making this change is adopted, “then Tatar, Yakut, Chuvash and other languages of the peoples of Russia” will be reduced to elective status, something that will threaten their survival in the future.

The petition, addressed to Putin personally, is available for signature at change.org/p/президент-российской-федерации-владимир-владимирович-путин-нет-закону-против-родных-языков.

The protest signs say in Russian: "The Right for a Native Language" and "Education in Native Language Is a Natural Human Right." (Image: change.org)

The protest signs say in Russian: “The Right for a Native Language” and “Education in Native Language Is a Natural Human Right.” (Image: change.org)

Among those who are behind it was Ivan Shamayev, a Sakha Republic State Assembly deputy, Ruslan Kurbanov, an orientalist from Daghestan, Aysin Ruslan, a Tatar journalist, Mark Shishkin, a regional specialist, Ayrat Fayzrakhmanov of the Platform XXI, representatives of the Chuvash Republic and representatives of the Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples.

The non-Russian peoples have good reason to fear what will happen if Putin as expected gets his way. Yesterday, at the United Nations forum on indigenous peoples, Igor Barinov, head of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, said native languages aren’t “a social necessity” but rather a private matter.

That comment strongly suggests that if the Kremlin can push the non-Russian languages out of the schools of the non-Russian republics by making them voluntary, it will then proceed to go after non-Russian media and even the existence of the non-Russian republics themselves or even the official status of nationality as such.

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Edited by: A. N.

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