Monday, June 15, 2015

By Supporting Chechen across Russia, Grozny Challenges Moscow’s Language Policy -- and with Moscow’s Money

Paul Goble


            Staunton, June 15 – Chechnya under Ramzan Kadyrov has challenged Moscow in many ways, but now it has taken on a new one. The center has discouraged the non-Russian republics from promoting the survival and use of their titular languages outside their borders. But now Chechnya is doing just that – and adding insult to injury, it is using Moscow’s money to do so.


            Bislan Terekbayev, the head of the Chechen State Administration for Cinematography, says that Grozny is launching a project entitled “My Pride-the Chechen Language” in which Russian and Hollywood films (like “Shrek”) for children will be translated into Chechen for showing not only in Chechnya but elsewhere in Russia and abroad (


            He says that “the idea for the project was born after numerous appeals of Chechen parents” who live outside of the republic and who are “concerned that their children have begun to half forget their native tongue while living in an alien language environment.” In response, Terekbayev adds, Grozny could not stand aside.


            A new bureaucracy has been created to acquire the rights for these films and to dub them in Chechen, the cinematography chief says. At the same time, Terekbayev announces that Grozny will crack down on illegal translations now circulating on the Internet which he says.  Such translations “contradict our mentality, distort the Chechen language, and have a negative impact on the minds and psyches of children.”


            Given that the Chechen government operates almost exclusively on subsidies from Moscow, this latest initiative is in effect being financed by Moscow -- even though it contradicts the thrust of Vladimir Putin’s language policies regarding the non-Russian languages, policies designed to reduce the use of these tongues as much as possible.


            In her reaction to Terekbayev’s statement, Mariya Blokhina of Moscow’s portal, does not refer to that aspect directly or discuss the ways in which what the Chechens are doing will be an irritant and source of controversy both among non-Russians in the Russian Federation and among Russian nationalists (


            Instead, she limits her remarks to noting that Moscow has recently launched a new television channel for children with hearing and sight defects, one intended to reach more than a million Russians between the ages of four and twelve.



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