Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English
The meeting participants focused on the implementation of the Federal Law On the State Language of the Russian Federation, support for and popularisation of the Russian language and literature abroad and preparations for the celebration of Alexander Pushkin’s 225th birth anniversary.
The Council on the Russian Language was established in 2014 to improve state policy in the development, protection and support of the Russian language.
The new composition of the Council was approved on August 2. In addition to leading Russian philologists and linguists, it includes representatives of the teachers’ community, Russian literature historians, directors of literature museums, writers and publishers.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues and friends.
I would like to begin as usual by saying a few words.
The topics that we discuss and that are linked with our native tongue, the Russian language, the state language of Russia, are certainly some of the most important both for the country as a whole and for each citizen, for our compatriots and millions of people all over the world who speak Russian and use it in their work, creative projects and as a means of communication.
Uniquely rich, versatile and multi-faceted, the Russian language is undoubtedly part of the world cultural heritage. But first and foremost, it is important for this country, for Russia, where it forms the basis of the mental and historical community of dozens of original cultures and peoples, and to a large extent ensures the sovereignty, unity and identity of the Russian nation.
We, our country, bear tremendous responsibility for preserving, developing and spreading the Russian language and Russian literature, all the more so now that we are facing attempts to oust artificially, and I would like to emphasise this, crudely, to reduce absolutely unceremoniously the space of the Russian language in the world and to oust it to the periphery.
The war on the Russian language is not being declared only by the inveterate Russophobes, as we are witnessing – this is an open secret, and by all kinds of fringe groups, but also by active and aggressive nationalists. Regrettably, in some countries this is becoming the official government policy. But what stands behind this policy, and we must realise this clearly, is again pressure and direct violation of human rights, including the right to a native language, culture and historical memory.
Under the circumstances, we face two equally important tasks. The first is to ensure a befitting level of knowledge and literacy for Russian citizens, and, hence, make the Russian language competitive and appealing on a global scale as a modern, living and dynamically developing means of communication. The second task is to provide efficient informational, educational and humanitarian support for the Russian language environment abroad.
Much has been done in these areas recently. The issues of the Russian language and literature are reflected in our country’s key programme documents and occupy a major place in the foundations of the state cultural policy and the strategy for the development of information society. The concept of teaching the Russian language and literature in Russia and the concept of state support and promotion of Russian abroad have been adopted as well.
However, there are a number of aspects that require special attention. First, I am referring to improving the quality of training teachers for all levels of education, and creating the necessary conditions for the development of literary, linguistic, and educational initiatives, including those from our public associations.
The media should also play a role. They can contribute to creating and promoting the relevant content, but the level, condition, and culture of the Russian language used in the Russian media industry, including the digital landscape, is also important.
Furthermore, I would like to separately consider matters of legal support for Russian language development.
Like all multinational countries, Russia sees its language policy as a priority for the state and a sensitive issue for society. It needs to be weighted, balanced and relevant; it needs to meet modern trends, and to be flexible and responsive to their changes.
In this regard, it seems appropriate to review the respective clauses in current legislation and make the necessary adjustments, primarily to the Federal Law On the State Language of the Russian Federation adopted back in 2005, and of course, to the Law On Languages of the Peoples of the Russian Federation, which turned 28 last month. It is advisable to entrust this work to the Interdepartmental Commission on the Russian Language, so I ask the Government, with the expert support of the members of our council, to approve its new members and to update its authority.
At the same time, I would like to emphasize that improving the legal framework and the norms of the Russian language themselves should not imply any revolutionary change, let alone any vulgar simplifications in punctuation or spelling. On the contrary, improvement implies endorsing norms that actually make our language so vibrant and expressive, and one of the most harmonious, metaphorical, and beautiful in the world.
Along with updating the legislation, I also ask you to start working on a single corpus of dictionaries, reference books, and grammar books containing the norms of the modern literary language when it is used as the state language of the Russian Federation. They should become mandatory for use by all state agencies, including government bodies – the executive, judicial, and legislative bodies, schools, and mass media.
Once again, our goal is to create an active and holistic language policy that will ensure the preservation and development of the Russian language and Russian literature both in Russia and around the world. The professional community’s involvement in addressing this problem is crucial. I ask the members of the Russian Language Council to get involved in this work. Colleagues, your expertise is in great demand today.
To be continued.