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Senior lawmaker calls for introducing Russian language proficiency tests for officials

June 11, 2015, 21:21 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The speaker of the upper house of Russian parliament wrote an article on the importance of state support for the Russian language
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Valentina Matviyenko

Valentina Matviyenko

© Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS

MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. Candidates for official positions at all levels of state machinery should pass Russian language proficiency tests, believes Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house of Russian parliament.

Her article on the importance of state support for the Russian language was published on Thursday by the Argumenti i Fakti weekly.

"Language is a medium much bigger than just an instrument of communication," Matviyenko wrote. "In many ways, it embodies the soul and spirit of the people, and the Russian language is a key element of ethnic identity of the Russian nation."

She singled out a number of problems that she believes pose the biggest problem for the Russian language today - an overblown inflow of foreign words, a sloppy language style of the mass media, a shortage of teachers of Russian as the first language at general schools, and the overall low verbal competence of the population.

One can come across all of these depressing factors of reality in the corridors of state power, too, Matviyenko wrote.

"At times, the documents crossing my table abound in grammar mistakes and it really takes time to get through to the essence of what is hidden behind the labyrinths of tongue-tied sentences and confusing phrases," she complained.

"People aspiring to jobs at state power agencies - either legislative or executive, federal or regional - should pass proficiency tests in the Russian language in one or another form," Matviyenko said.

As a measure towards upgrading the general language of the Russians’ proficiency in the native tongue, she proposed "to restore the system of regular professional refreshment of college teachers of Russian at the country’s leading universities, as well as institutes reporting to the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Education."

One more problem, according to Matviyenko, is posed by the mass media that have lost the role of language benchmarks for the masses of people. "Quite possibly, it would make sense for us to consider conditions for the journalists where they could improve their language and speech skills," she said.

"As we can see, this sphere is awash with problems," Matviyenko said. "I think Russia needs a state policy towards the maintenance of and support for the Russian language today, as it is a crucial element of Russian culture and the Russian world.".

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