Is the Russian language losing its dominance in Central Asia?
The number of Russian speakers in the region has indeed decreased since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, mainly due to socio-demographic factors such as the emigration of ethnic Russians and the population growth of the dominant ethnic groups.
But Russian remains strong, especially in the cities. It is still the language of education, science, services and, often, official documents. And many parents still believe that their children are more likely to succeed in life knowing Russian than, for example, Kyrgyz. These language divisions – often between people of the same ethnicity – have led to cultural clashes and resentment over unequal opportunity and discrimination.
But government policies and public attitudes among the Russian-speaking population are gradually shifting towards a greater 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, Kyrgyz journalist and co-founder of the famous news site Kloop; and Sevara Khamidova, a women’s rights activist from Uzbekistan. The conference was moderated by RFE/RL contributor Bermet Talant.