THE ADOPTION OF LANGUAGE POLICIES IN THE REPUBLICS OF POST-SOVIET RUSSIA: ACTORS, DEBATES, DECISIONS

Konstantin Zamyatin

University of Helsinki, Finland

In the early 1990s, political actors in Russia’s republics proposed alternative, and sometimes mutually exclusive, solutions to language issues for their adoption as a public policy. The purpose of this paper is to understand how and why it was still possible, despite the conflicting interests, to build a coalition and adopt the policy in the republics. I use the method of discourse analysis of official documents and political debates. I analyse the data on the circumstances of the policy adoption in republics in order to understand the general trends in what and how compromises were reached. The official designation of state languages came to Russia’s republics as the main policy devised “from above”, the central authorities, but it had to be specified and adapted locally. From an instrumentalist perspective, some Russian scholars have argued that the adoption of such a language policy of designating state languages compulsory for use should be seen as a milestone in power struggle. Yet, I argue in this paper that a much wider range of issues were on the table and the compromise had to be reached on what the designation of state languages meant in different contexts. The findings of the study should contribute to the debate about the role of language in politics during the USSR disintegration and the early national-state building in Russia and its republics. When at some point in the future Russia enters another circle of political transformation, the issues in focus would again become highly topical on the political agenda.

Keywords: policy adoption, language policy, public policy, ethnic republics, Russian Federation

For citation: Zamyatin Konstantin. The adoption of language policies in the republics of post-Soviet Russia: actors, debates, decisions. Sociolinguistic Studies, 2020, no. 2(2) [online], pp. 30–66 (In Russ.).

DOI: 10.37892/2713-2951-2020-2-2-30-66