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Russian State Duma calls for efforts to popularize Russian language abroad

June 06, 2013, 16:02 UTC+3

The statistics saying that the Russian language is the fifth of the world’s most widely spoken languages

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MOSCOW, June 6 (Itar-Tass) - Russian lawmakers call for more robust efforts to popularize the Russian language abroad and to enhance the language culture in the country.

On Thursday, the Russian State Duma lower parliament house organized a roundtable meeting on the occasion of the Russian Language Day. “The language culture of present-day society, as well as the state policy in this sphere need serious adjustment of approaches to the role and significance of the Russian language,” participants in the meeting said.

Thus, the chairman of the State Duma committee for CIS affairs and relations with compatriots, Leonid Slutsky, cited statistics saying that the Russian language is the fifth of the world’s most widely spoken languages. “But, experts say that by 2025, the number of Russian-speakers across the globe will go down from the current 278 million to 152 million, including 110 million those who live in Russia,” he said. “It means that the Russian language might yield to French, Urdu, Arabic, Portuguese, and Bengali.”

Such pessimistic forecasts, in his words, stem from the considerable changes in the geopolitical situation of the past two decades when emerging sovereign states changed their political and economic priorities. “The general tendency in the policy of the majority of countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic republics towards the Russian language is as follows: it used to be considered a native language in the first years of independence, then it was a second native language, then it reduced to a language of interethnic communication and further on - to a language of a national minority to finally become an optional course on the curriculum,” he noted.

Moreover, he went on, language skills are degrading among the youth both in and outside Russia, while the language is losing its role in the sphere of interethnic communication. Ultimately, in his words, it leads to ethno-cultural dissociation between Russia and other member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States. “It means that are a result of the abolition of the system of Russian-language education in the post Soviet states millions our compatriots abroad will lose their historic roots, will be disintegrated and assimilated, and it will undermine the unity of the CIS,” Slutsky stressed.

So, participants in the roundtable meeting decided to recommend the Russian foreign ministry to make a wide use in international agreements with foreign states of the practice of mutual language classes exchanges, to offer state support to Russian-speakers living abroad in what concerns their right to speak their native language and study it along with the official languages of their countries. Apart from that, the lawmakers spoke in favor of supporting the existing and opening new Russian-language schools, popularizing Russian-language literature abroad, helping to expand Russian-language television broadcasting abroad, and encouraging information coverage of events in Russia in foreign media.

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