Tue, 28 Jun 2022

Is the Russian language losing its dominance in Central Asia?

The number of Russian speakers in the region has indeed declined since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, mostly due to sociodemographic factors such as the emigration of ethnic Russians and population growth in dominant ethnic groups.

But Russian remains strong, especially, in cities. It is still the language of education, science, services, and, often, official paperwork. And many parents still believe that their children have a better chance to succeed in life knowing Russian than, for instance, Kyrgyz. These linguistic divisions -- often between people of the same ethnicity -- have led to cultural clashes and resentment over unequal opportunities and discrimination.

But government policies and public attitudes among the Russian-speaking populace are gradually shifting toward a more prominent role for native languages.

This was the subject of a live Twitter discussion hosted by RFE/RL on May 26 with Issatay Minuarov, a sociologist from Kazakhstan; Bektour Iskender, a journalist from Kyrgyzstan and a co-founder of the well-known news website Kloop; and Sevara Khamidova, a women's rights activist from Uzbekistan. The talk was moderated by RFE/RL contributor Bermet Talant.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036

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