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A dispute exists between the Russian federal government and the republic of Tatarstan: the republic wishes to revert to the Latin (Latinista) script, but the Russian government disagrees1)2). In 1999, Tatarstan adopted a Latin script, but this was outlawed by the Russian Duma in 2002, which stated all languages in Russia should be written in the Cyrillic script. In 2004, an appeal from Tatarstan was brought to the Russian Constitutional Court, which ruled against Tatarstan, stating the use of a different script was a “refusal” to the Russian constitution and a restriction to the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens 3) Nonetheless, some books are published with private funds in Latin script, though publishers may risk prosecution for this.4).
Tatarstan is a republic of the Russian Federation.
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|The Property Boundaries|
Historically, Tatars had a fairly strong education linked to religious institutions; in 1926, literacy rates among Tatars were about 48.2% in comparison to other Turkic groups living in the USSR – Azerbaijan SSR – 25.2%, Uzbek SSR – 10.6% 5)).
In 1926, USSR policy forced the Tatars to change from Arabic script, in use since 920 AD, to Latin script. The late 1930s saw a gradual shift toward Russification of the nation (a process of forced or voluntary assimilation into the Russian culture), including another script change to Cyrillic. This Russification, and state control over publications in Tatar, led to a reduction of programs/schools with Tatar-medium of instruction from 96% in 1930–1931 to 7% in the 1980s. Tatar language gradually fell into the group of minority languages definitely endangered.6)
A major shift occurred after the fall of the USSR: Tatarstan adopted a law on the State Languages of the Tatarstan Republic in 1992, and ratified the official status of Tatar on a par with the Russian language in the new Tatarstan Constitution. These policy changes brought about the growth of Tatar-medium schools, and introduced a compulsory Tatar language class for all students of grades 1–11 in Tatarstan.7)
Despite some positive changes, the ‘trend towards a decrease in Tatar language knowledge and use among ethnic Tatars’ remained 8). Several recent measures have not helped, such as federal educational policies, especially starting from 2001 onwards9), and implementation of the Unified State Examination (USE) or ‘Yediniy Gosudarstvenniy Ekzamen’ administered only in the Russian language, elimination of the ‘national-regional’ component in the school curriculum for teaching history and languages of ethnic minorities in Russia10).
The Russian Federation has signed (2001), but not ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, see: Russia and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Read more about Russian federal legislation concerning minority languages.
Tatarstan's Law No 1560-XII, “On the State Languages of the Republic of Tatarstan and Other Languages in the Republic of Tatarstan” (1992) ratifies the official status of Tatar on par with the Russian language in the new Tatarstan Constitution. It states that:
The Federal Education law (2007) states that:
In 2007 Moscow and Tatarstan signed a power-sharing treaty, allowing Tatarstan to make decisions jointly with Moscow on the region's economic, cultural, and other policies. However, this treaty expired July 24, 2017. At the end of 2017, there were two announcements that Tatar education would be reduced, though both stated different measurements. The President of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, said that the Tatar language classes would remain mandatory, but reduced from six to two hours weekly, but the Prosecutor-General of Tatarstan, Ildus Nafikov, stated that Tatar would be taught for two hours a week on voluntary basis with written parental consent11). The latter was to be true and Tatar is to be taught as a voluntary, two hour class. In July 2019, a school director in Kazan, Pavel Shmakov , has has filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to challenge this restriction on Tatar language education (in 2018 Shmakov was fined for teaching Tatar as a mandatory subject at the school) 12).
|% of children learning Tatar||1994||2006|
|Children in tatarstan||12%||51%|
|In pre-school education||10.6%||65%|
|In secondary education||100%|
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