In the Law "On the languages of the
peoples of the Russian Federation" adopted on October 25, 1991, the first of its kind
in the whole history of Russia, the languages of all the peoples inhabiting this country
are declared to be national property, part of the historical and cultural heritage
protected by the state. According to the Law on Languages, "On the territory of the
RSFSR the State shall guarantee language sovereignty of each people irrespective of its
number and legal position and language sovereignty of a person irrespective of the origin
of a human being, his or her social and material position, racial and national belonging,
sex, education, relation to religion and domicile area" (art. 2.2). The Russian State
"shall recognize the equal rights of all languages of the peoples of the RSFSR for
their maintenance and development. All languages of the peoples of RSFSR receive state
support" (art. 3.1.). In the number of articles of this law the languages of the
minority ethnic groups are guaranteed state support, provision of necessary conditions for
their preservation and further development (art. 6), assistance in providing various forms
of education and teaching in their native language, irrespective of the number of speakers
but in accordance with their needs" (art. 9. 5); "any nation
writing system of its own has the right to introduce and adopt writing in its native
tongue. The state provides the necessary conditions" (art. 10. 4).
language, being a main means of cross-national communication of the peoples of the RSFSR
according to the established historical and cultural traditions, has the status of the
state language on the whole territory of the RSFSR" (art. 3.2).
The Law on
Education of 10 July 1992 (revised and supplemented on 13 January 1996) makes reference to
the Law on Languages where language policy in the field of education is concerned (art.
6.1), gives the citizens the right to receive basic education in a mother tongue and also
to choose the language of instruction within the scope of possibilities provided by the
educational system (art. 6.2) (1).
regulations concerning the use of the languages of the peoples of Russia and guarantees
for their development are confirmed on the constitutional level. The Constitution of the
Russian Federation adopted on 12 December 1993 prohibits propagation of language
superiority (art. 29.2), recognizes Russian as the official state language, provides the
right of republics within the Federation to introduce their own official state languages
and guarantees to all the peoples of the Russian Federation the right to maintain their
mother tongues and appropriate conditions for their study and cultivation (art. 68).
important documents are the federal law "On General Principles to Organize Local
Self-Government" of 28 August 1995 (revised on 22 April 1996), which relates
municipal schooling to local self-government (art. 6.2.6), and the federal law "On
National and Cultural Autonomy" of 17 June 1996, which proclaims state protection of
mother tongues (art. 8), provides the right to maintain and cultivate mother tongues (art.
9), recognizes the right to receive basic education in a native tongue and also to choose
the language of education and instruction (art. 10, 11, 12).
And finally, the
preservation and development of the languages and cultures of the Russian peoples is one
of the priorities formulated in the Concept of the State National Policy of the Russian
Federation, which was confirmed by the President in 1996.
The diversity of
ethnolinguistic situations in Russia alongside with the diverse panorama of different
types of bilingualism and multilingualism, unpredictable development of ethnopolitical
situations, endless arguments between those who were for and against the language reform
as well as between the Center and republics - these factors alongside with the other ones
didn't allow the Russian Federation after the adoption of the language decrees to
elaborate and to start fulfilling the state program for implementation of provisions of
the language acts (Guboglo, 1998). In 1992 the Concept of the State Program for
Maintenance and Development of Languages of Peoples of the Russian Federation worked out
by the group of experts headed by Vladimir Neroznak didn't get the status of a state
program and revealed that the implementation of the Language Law alongside with scientific
elaboration of the problem demands great organizational efforts as well as huge financial
Thus, at the end
of 90s the language legislation in the Russian Federation is on the process to allow,
perhaps for the first time ever, for the possibility of implementing a viable multilingual
and multicultural system reflecting the human diversity of the Russian Federation and
promoting the preservation of this diversity.