[lg policy] Struggle for Tatar language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon May 28 11:23:18 EDT 2018


 Struggle for Tatar language: Soviet dissidents' method, Putin's quote book
and negotiations behind closed doors
08:00, 28.05.2018 <https://realnoevremya.com/articles/archive/28.05.2018>

Understanding the position of the Tatarstan leadership on the language
issue according to information provided by its official representative
[image: Struggle for Tatar language: Soviet dissidents' method, Putin's
quote book and negotiations behind closed doors] Photo: Maksim Platonov

A briefing of official representative of the Kazan Kremlin Lilia Galimova,
held in the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan, was
dedicated to the eventful programme of Rustam Minnikhanov at the St.
Petersburg International Economic Forum. The correspondent station of
Realnoe Vremya at SPIEF 2018 is keeping readers informed of the events. But
as soon as it came to answering journalists' questions, most of the
conversation was reduced to the language issue, exacerbated by the
''Arshinova's bill'', which significantly reduces the status of the
languages of the peoples of Russia in the education system. As Galimova's
words reflect the point of view of the President of Tatarstan and his
administration, it is worth to dwell on this part of the briefing.

''Observe your constitution!''

The stance of the president and the top leadership of the Republic of
Tatarstan has been clearly stated: they are against the proposed amendments
<https://realnoevremya.com/articles/2413-tatarstan-state-council-mps-begin-to-defend-tatar-language>
to the federal law ''On education". Several methods have been chosen to
defend their position. It is curious that they all belong to different,
even mutually exclusive, political cultures. But in an environment where
international policy is executed using ''hybrid'' methods, this is not
surprising.

The first way to protect the Kazan Kremlin in matters of language policy
was developed by the son of Sergey Yesenin — well-known human rights
activist Alexander Yesenin-Volpin, then it was taken up by Soviet
dissidents. ''Observe your constitution!'' they responded to all actions of
the authorities, which by form and essence contradicted the lofty words of
the ''Stalin constitution'' in 1936 and ''Brezhnev constitution'' in 1977.
In practical application, this principle helped political prisoners to
pursue their goals through invoking state regulations.

''This is not only the problem of Tatarstan. The issue has been widely
discussed at various platforms and in various regions of the Russian
Federation. Unfortunately, in this civilized way to negotiate, there appear
some activists, political experts who begin to destabilize these topics,
manipulating with articles of the Constitution of the Russian Federation,
which, apparently, they have never read and never seen. Because if they
opened the Constitution, they wouldn't even be making such arguments. For
such lazy people I can read out the moments on which it is necessary to
rely in part of defending our rights, understanding that the republics of
the Russian Federation have the right to establish the state languages,
which are used in public authorities, in local governments, in public
institutions, along with the state language of the Russian Federation —
Russian. It is provided by the 2nd part of the article 68 of the
Constitution of the Russian Federation. Also, all people are guaranteed the
right to preserve their native ethnic language and create conditions for
its study and development,'' said Galimova.

As soon as it came to answering journalists' questions, most of the
conversation was reduced to the language issue, exacerbated by the
''Arshinova's bill''. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Lilia Galimova devoted further excursion into the legislation to the
articles of the federal laws ''On languages of the peoples of the Russian
Federation'', ''On education'', based on the Constitution, as well as to
the well-known decision of the constitutional court of the Russian
Federation, which designated that in order to ensure the use of the Tatar
language in all spheres of official relations, Tatarstan legislators have
the right to provide its study as a state language of the republic in
obtaining basic general education.

''Based on what I have just stated, the establishment of voluntary basis
for study of state languages in the Russian Federation, as provided by the
draft bill, is contrary to the above mentioned norms of the Constitution of
the Russian Federation,'' Galimova summarized.
Formally, Putin's word is not a law yet, but a weighty argument

The second group of arguments voiced by Galimova comes from a completely
different legal culture than strict adherence to the letter of the law
according to Yesenin-Volpin. Russia remains a country of ''manual
control'', it seems that there is no escape from this. By the recognition
of the deputy head of the press service of the President of the Republic of
Tatarstan, she was well prepared for the meeting with journalists and chose
quotes from Vladimir Putin's speeches on the national issue.

''Those who say ''Russia is for Russians'', you know, it is difficult to
resist not to give characteristics to these people. They are either
dishonest people who do not understand what they are saying, and then they
are just fools or provocateurs because Russia is a multi-ethnic country,''
the president of Russia said during Hot Line with President of Russia in
2003.

''For each people, the issue of preserving the native ethnic language is a
question of preserving its identity and traditions. The comprehensive work
on the study and support of the languages of the peoples of Russia, of
course, should be continued,'' he said in 2015 at a joint meeting of the
Council on interethnic relations and the Council on the Russian language.

There is no doubt that Putin himself is a supporter of cautious approach to
the national question, for which he is regularly reproached by Russian
nationalists. Photo: kremlin.ru

The Internet has already developed a special genre, when people cut videos
with quotes of politicians over the past years and provide them with
information about the ratio of words to figures and facts. There is no
doubt that Putin himself is a supporter of cautious approach to the
national question, for which he is regularly reproached by Russian
nationalists. But isn't there an element of complacency of the republican
elite in the selection of convenient quotations that do not formally have
the force of law? Or is it just a diplomatic ritual to match the spirit of
the time where the state is personalized? These questions can be answered
only by the results of the struggle for language.
Federal standard of teaching the state languages of subjects of the Russian
Federation is ripenning in the quietness of cabinets

In addition to counteracting the initiatives aimed at discrimination of
languages, Tatarstan is working to develop a federal standard for teaching
state languages of the subjects of the Russian Federation. Answering our
question about the current status of this work, Lilia Galimova discovered a
third method — the method of backstage negotiations and agreements that
take place beyond public scrutiny.

''Rustam Minnikhanov at his level, the ministry of education at its level
are negotiating. It is a desk work so far, where we have no common
formulation which we could definitely announce. This is a painstaking work,
which began not this year and is connected with finding a convenient and
compromise option for everyone,'' Lilia Galimova answered to Realnoe Vremya.

She also stressed that these issues are solved by Tatarstan directly with
the federal centre, without involving other national regions. This work at
the state level is clearly different from the speeches of public figures
from different regions and peoples, who in a short time managed to form the
horizontal interaction. It is obvious that for this environment the style
of work of Tatarstan state structures may seem very slow, too moderate and
not public enough. But it is the ability to avoid extreme hasty decisions
that allowed the republic to survive the political crises of the 1990s and
the attack on federalism in the 2000s. The correctness or fallacy of the
chosen path can be assessed only by results.

The schedule of Rustam Minnikhanov included a meeting with the leadership
of Gagauz Republic. Photo: tatarstan.ru

While the official representative of the Tatarstan president was talking to
journalists at the government house on Liberty Square, her chief was
working in Saint-Petersburg. The schedule of Rustam Minnikhanov included a
meeting with the leadership of Gagauz Republic. There were times when
Turkic Gagauzia and Russian-speaking Transnistria opposed the attempts of
official Chisinau to impose the Romanian identity. The unrecognized
Transnistrian Moldavian Republic is the small homeland of Deputy of the
State Duma Alena Arshinova, whose name is the first among the politicians
who initiated the scandalous draft bill.
By Mark Shishkin
Tatarstan <https://realnoevremya.com/region/tatarstan>

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Related articles
Source :
https://realnoevremya.com/articles/2503-lilia-galimova-about-stance-of-tatarstan-leadership-on-language-issue


-- 
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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