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Russian language faces onslaught by nationalists, primeval Russophobes

The president cautioned against calling the Russian language "a weapon"

MOSCOW, November 5. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin is worried by the war declared in some countries against the Russian language by those whom he described as "primeval Russophobes." 

"These days we are faced with attempts at artificially, rudely and unceremoniously reducing the space of the Russian language around the world and forcing it to the periphery," Putin said at a meeting of the Council on the Russian Language on Tuesday.

"The war on the Russian language has been declared by not just primeval Russophobes, which is much in sight. It’s common knowledge that various marginal types and aggressive nationalists have been rather active in this respect. Regrettably, in some countries this becomes an official policy," Putin said.

In the president's opinion, behind this policy one finds "the very same pressure and direct violation of human rights, including the right to use the mother tongue, culture and historical memory."

"We, our country, bear special responsibility for preserving, developing and spreading the Russian language and Russian literature," Putin stated.

The Russian president cautioned against calling the Russian language "a weapon" because, according to him, it would fuel attempts to fight against it. 

"Let’s not use such words. There is a point in refraining from using them, because if it is a weapon, consequently there will be attempts to fight against it as such," Putin pointed out, commenting on Presidential Adviser Vladimir Tolstoy’s statement that the Russian language was a powerful weapon. "Attempts are already being made to fight against it, though for other reasons. Indeed, it’s a kind of power, soft power, and that’s enough," the Russian president added.

According to Putin, a country’s global influence depends not on weapons but on economic success, as the defense industry, culture, education and science have an economic basis. "It all rots quickly if there is no highly developed and rapidly evolving economy to support it," he added.

Putin disagreed with another participant in the meeting who had said that the laws of the market led to linguistic marginalization. "They don’t, it’s the other way round. In the Soviet times, people in Eastern Europe actively learned Russian because it was a reasonable and a beneficial thing to do — and not in the basic sense of the word — but because the Soviet Union was the main partner of their countries and careers depended on the knowledge of Russian," he explained.

Following the Soviet Union’s collapse, people started losing interest in the Russian language, Putin noted, adding that "some continue to deliberately fuel this lack of interest, because they still fear Russia."