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In Post-Soviet Central Asia, Russian Takes a Back Seat

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

In the 20 years since the Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union became independent, the influence of the Russian language has been declining in these countries.

Just two decades ago, Russian was a tongue common to Central Asians, but now many young people cannot speak it at all.

"Neither I nor my brothers and sisters know it," says Abdullah, a 20-year-old Uzbek who was born in the same year that his country seceded from the Soviet Union. “There are not many Russian classes left in schools and colleges. In my high school we only had one hour a week.”

In this respect, Abdullah is very much a part of the post-Soviet generation in Uzbekistan. Uzbeks are by far the largest ethnic group in their country and, since independence arrived in 1991, the government has done whatever it could to make sure that the local language enjoys precedence.

Newspapers published in Russian are no longer available at every newsstand, and Russian TV broadcasts can only be received via satellite or cable. The educational system is focused almost entirely on the study of Uzbek.

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A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

In Post-Soviet Central Asia, Russian Takes a Back Seat

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