Friday, November 10, 2017

If Moscow Allows Tatars Two Hours of Tatar Instruction a Week, Other Non-Russians Wonder What They Can Hope For

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 9 – The apparent compromise between Moscow and Kazan that will allow Tatarstan to continue to require two hours of Tatar language instruction in its schools each week represents both a retreat from Vladimir Putin’s insistence on complete voluntariness for the study of non-Russian languages and a gradual strangling of non-Russian instruction as well.

            Not surprisingly, the people of Tatarstan are not the only ones paying close attention to these developments, with other non-Russians wondering whether this compromise will work to their benefit by at least establishing the principle that they should be able to require some instruction in their national languages or will ultimately destroy them as many fear.

            Today, Ivan Shamayev, the director of a Sakha lycee, told the Regnum news agency that the Tatar compromise may help other non-Russians including his nation to avoid having schools in their native languages placed under immediate threat of closure by insistence that there be parental approval for instruction in such languages (

                But if the Tatar “compromise” does allow them to continue for a time, the fact that the Tatars have been forced to reduce instruction in their national language can only be of concern because it suggests that Moscow is pursuing Russianization and Russification by other means that will be just as threatening to non-Russians as a direct ban. 

            Indeed, it appears that what Moscow has done is to make a tactical retreat to calm the situation in the lead up to the presidential elections in order to make a strategic advance against the non-Russians in the period after them.  And that retreat, if it can be said to be one, for the largest non-Russian minority in the country may not be repeated elsewhere.

            That is because it is entirely possible that smaller nations in Russia will not have the ability to mobilize against Putin’s policies and thus may suffer even sooner than next spring. 

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