European Journal of Language Policy

Language policy of the Russian Federation: searching for balance among 150 languages

European Journal of Language Policy (2020), 12, (2), 135–162.

Abstract

The article presents an analysis of language legislation in the Russian Federation (RF), focusing on the laws adopted in Russia since the dissolution of the USSR up to the present time. It shows that language legislation in the RF reflects the changes in the balance of power between the central federal authorities and the constituent republics as the federal centre tried to ensure the unity of the state without antagonising ethnic minorities. The history of language legislation in the USSR and the RF reveals a “pendulum swing” pattern in which the focus on the rights of minority languages shifts to promoting Russian as a lingua franca to create a unified communicative space within the RF. Special emphasis is laid on the educational domain as educational issues proved to be an especially sensitive matter for Russian citizens. A case study of language policies in Tatarstan highlights the heated debates provoked by the latest initiatives concerning teaching regional languages, revealing problems encountered by lawmakers due to opposing priorities of stakeholders with different ethnic backgrounds.

L’article présente une analyse de la législation linguistique en Fédération de Russie, en se concentrant sur les lois adoptées en Russie depuis la dissolution de l’URSS jusqu’à nos jours. Cela montre que la législation linguistique dans la RF reflète les changements dans l’équilibre des pouvoirs entre les autorités fédérales centrales et les républiques constituantes, le centre fédéral essayant d’assurer l’unité de l’État sans contrarier les minorités ethniques. L’histoire de la législation linguistique en URSS et en RF révèle un modèle de «balancement du pendule» dans lequel l’accent sur les droits des langues minoritaires se déplace vers la promotion du russe en tant que lingua franca pour créer un espace de communication unifié au sein de la RF. Un accent particulier est mis sur le domaine éducatif, car les questions éducatives se sont révélées être une question particulièrement délicate pour les citoyens russes. Une étude de cas sur les politiques linguistiques au Tatarstan met en évidence les débats animés provoqués par les dernières initiatives concernant l’enseignement des langues régionales, révélant les problèmes rencontrés par les législateurs en raison des priorités opposées des parties prenantes d’origines ethniques différentes.

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Kraeva, Irina

Guermanova, Natalia