Policy Memos

The Failure of Tatar Language Revival

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For minority nationalist activists at the dawn of perestroika, the decline of titular languages was one of the most pressing problems facing their republics. By the late 1980s, minority languages had been largely supplanted by Russian in the urban areas of most Soviet republics. Members of minority ethnic groups used the Russian language in public more than they used their native languages. To some extent, this was the case at home as well, especially among young people. The fear of a continuing language shift was one of the main mobilizing factors in the nationalist movements that developed in virtually all ethnic regions of the USSR in the late 1980s. While the political success of these movements varied greatly, all of the former republics of the USSR, as well as a majority of the former autonomous republics, undertook language revival programs after independence. [...]

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About the author

Senior Analyst
CNA; Harvard University