Monday, October 06, 2014

Putinspeak in Kyrgyzstan

By MASHA GESSEN
OCT. 5, 2014

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Few post-Soviet countries are as comfortable for a Russian-speaker to visit as Kyrgyzstan. This landlocked mountainous country of roughly 5.6 million, wedged between China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, kept Russian as an official language after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Kyrgyz had fallen into disuse during the Soviet era and lacked the vocabulary for affairs of state. As a result, a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country still speaks Russian.

Recently, Kyrgyzstan has been growing notably more Russian. Although Kyrgyz has gained many words, speakers and advocates for making it the country’s sole state language, activists from nongovernmental organizations say they noticed a couple of years ago that Russian-language media got suddenly more robust, gaining a crop of new freelance writers who seemed to come from nowhere. The same people seem to be writing for a recently revived Russian-language website called Stan Radar, apparently addressed to the residents of the five post-Soviet “stans”: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Many of the stories on the site emphasize the importance of the Russian language in these countries, as well as the potential economic dangers of not joining the customs union initiated by Russia. The site contains no specific contact information or any other identifying details, and activists say their efforts to find out who owns it have been futile. They have established, though, that the server is located in Moscow.

(More here.)

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