Longtime residents of Dushanbe say Tajikistan’s capital is changing, and they’re not talking about the destruction of city parks to make space for empty new skyscrapers. The use of the Russian language, once a unifier in multi-ethnic Tajik cities, is rapidly fading.
A generation ago, Russian was the primary language of Tajikistan’s cities, but today it is spoken mainly by a dwindling elite. Due to war and economic decay over the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of the best-educated Tajiks – generally Russian-speakers – have left the country. At the same time, the education system has declined to the point where it is barely functioning. In most schools, Tajik language instruction has pushed Russian aside.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.