According to the degree of the spread of the Russian language, Central Asia can be divided into two large zones. The first is Kazakhstan, where the vast majority of the population (more than 80%) speaks Russian, and the second is Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, where from 50 to 80% of the population and more do not know Russian. The trends in the development of language processes in these zones are also opposite. In Kazakhstan, despite the policy of targeted administrative introduction of the Kazakh language, the share of the Russian-speaking population has not declined over the years of independence, but, on the contrary, has increased. And this is despite the fact that the number of the very Russian population of Kazakhstan over the years has decreased almost by half (by 40%). In other republics of the region, the number of Russian-speaking population after the collapse of the USSR began to decline rapidly with the departure of Russians and other "non-indigenous" peoples.
According to the All-Union Census of 1989, Russian was spoken by 62,8% of Kazakhs, 36,9% of Kyrgyz, 30% of Tajiks, 27,5% of Turkmen and 22,3% of Uzbeks living in the territory of their “own” republics. The level of proficiency in Russian among the "indigenous" ethnic minorities living in these republics was about the same.
At the same time, the Russian population of local languages almost did not know. According to the census, the language of the title ethnos was 4,5% of the Russian population of Uzbek, 3,5% - Tajik, 2,5% - Turkmen, 1,2% - Kyrgyz, and 0,9% - Kazakh SSR.
A much higher level of knowledge of the Russian language by the Kazakhs was explained by a number of reasons: the earlier inclusion of the territory of present-day Kazakhstan into Russia (in some northern regions Russians live for 400 years), a much higher proportion of the “European” population (Eastern Slavs at the end of 1980- x years exceeded the number of Kazakhs), the close integration of the republic into the union economy, which required a wider distribution of the Russian language among the indigenous population.
Twenty years later, the language situation in Central Asia looks different. According to A.L. Arefieva, on 2009-2012 84% of the population of Kazakhstan, 49% - of Kyrgyzstan, 41% - of Uzbekistan, 33% - of Tajikistan and the whole of 18% - of Turkmenistan owns Russian. But the concept of “fluent in Russian” can be very broad. Typically, the source of such data is censuses or various surveys, and the person himself determines the level of language proficiency in them. From the experience of communication with representatives of the indigenous people of Central Asia, it is obvious that the majority of labor migrants who come to work in Russia can hardly speak a few words in Russian, but in the course of the survey they may well state that they speak the language. A much more realistic picture is drawn by data on the number of people actively speaking Russian. In Kazakhstan, there are 72%, in Kyrgyzstan - 36%, in Uzbekistan - 14%, and in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan - only 12%. Generally, they do not speak Russian 16% of the population of Kazakhstan, 50% - of Kyrgyzstan, 59% - of Uzbekistan, 67% - of Tajikistan and 82% - of Turkmenistan.
Statistics of the spread of the Russian language reflects the following trend. The farther away the republic is from Russia, the lower is the percentage of those who speak Russian. If in Kazakhstan almost everyone knows him, then in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan - only every second, and in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan the majority of the population does not own it. While maintaining the existing trends, the Russian-speaking cultural and linguistic space in the peripheral countries of Moscow in relation to Moscow in the near future threatens to fade away. Moreover, the number of Russians themselves in these republics has fallen to a record low. In Tajikistan, according to the 2010 census, there are no more than 38 thousand Russians (0,5% of the total population), although on the eve of the collapse of the USSR 388 thousand lived there, and along with other “European” ethnic groups (Ukrainians, Belorussians, Germans, and . p.) - almost half a million people.
In Turkmenistan, according to various estimates, approximately 100 thousand Russians remain today (about 2% of the population), whereas in 1989 there were 334 thousand.
Reducing to a critical level the share of the Slavic population, together with the crisis situation in the field of education, makes the tendency of narrowing the Russian-speaking space difficult to reverse. Moreover, these processes affect not only Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, but also, to a lesser extent, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
However, the narrowing of the sphere of use of the Russian language is the result of not only “natural” migration and demographic processes. Most countries in the region pursue a deliberate policy to reduce Russian-language education and translate it into title languages. According to A.L. Arefieva, the number of students in Russian in 2010 / 2011. compared to 1990 / 1991. decreased in Kazakhstan from 2 million. 224 thousand. to 690 thousand (by 69%), in Uzbekistan - from 636 to 221 thousand (by 65%), in Tajikistan - from 120 to 47 thousand. (by 61%), in Turkmenistan - from 127,1 to 6,5 thousand people. (on 95%). And only in Kyrgyzstan, the number of students in Russian over the years has increased by 14% (from 248,9 to 283,5 thousand people). In Turkmenistan, Russian-speaking education has now virtually been completely eliminated, and in Tajikistan and, to a lesser extent, in Uzbekistan, it has fallen to a level at which the reproduction of the Russian-speaking information and cultural environment was in question. In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the situation with Russian-speaking education is still more favorable, although the strengthening of nationalist sentiments is also evident here.
Speaking at the 18 of October at the congress of the ruling party “Nur Otan”, Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the full translation of training in the Kazakh language over the next 12 years. “By 2025, we will fully translate the Kazakh education. You know what percentage of Kazakhs among all Kazakhstanis in the years of independence, - the president said - And now the percentage of Kazakhs is more than 70% (the share of Kazakhs in the country's population according to 2009 census - 63,1% - author's comment.) And Kazakh-speaking the regions should already go to the Kazakh paperwork. " True, it is not entirely clear who exactly these plans will affect - only the Kazakhs or the Russians too. At least in the regions where there is not enough Kazakh population, N. Nazarbayev urged to preserve bilingualism. In the case of a complete transfer of education to the state language, Kazakhstan is guaranteed a massive outflow of Russians, who make up a quarter of the population (3,7 million), which is highly undesirable for the authorities, by their own admission.
In general, according to the president of Kazakhstan, young people should know three languages - Kazakh, Russian and English; in the future, Chinese can also become promising.
In Uzbekistan, according to the information of the online publication News-Asia in the new academic year, the number of hours of teaching the Russian language has significantly decreased. In secondary schools, it will now be studied not from the first class, as before, but from the second. In the Uzbek-language and Russian-language schools (there are about 850), the Russian language will be taught two hours a week, and in schools with Tajik, Kazakh and Kyrgyz languages of instruction - only one hour. Instead of Russian, it is planned to focus on English, which will begin to learn not from the second, but from the first class. In order to popularize it, teachers will be obliged to begin each lesson in any subject with the English greeting “Welcome, children”. The teachers themselves are also obliged to attend English classes. Since many textbooks in the republic have not yet been translated into Uzbek, reducing the volume of Russian-language teaching in school will inevitably lead to a decrease in the quality of education and level of education. In preschool educational institutions, the situation with the Russian language is even more complicated. According to the publication, children attending kindergartens are trying to completely protect from the Russian language. Thus, in several oblasts of the republic, literature written in Russian is being withdrawn, and not only Russian works are being seized, but also Uzbek folk tales translated into Russian.
In Turkmenistan, starting from the new academic year, teaching in Russian at the State Institute of Culture is prohibited. By order of the rector, all subjects, with the exception of the Russian language, can now be taught only in the state (Turkmen) language.
Meanwhile, in the 22 of the year since the collapse of the USSR, textbooks in such disciplines as directing, music, film, acting, drama, or история Theater, in Turkmen language has not been published.
The same textbooks that are available were published in Russian during the Soviet era and are already outdated. However, to use them in school is now possible only with a translation into the Turkmen language. At the same time, there is a demand for Russian-language education in Turkmenistan. In the Turkmen-Russian school named after A.S. Pushkin - the only secondary school in the country where teaching is conducted according to Russian programs in Russian, the competition is several dozen people per place.
In Kyrgyzstan, where the position of the Russian language has been relatively comfortable for a long time, the situation began to deteriorate after the coup d'états of 2005 and especially of 2010, accompanied by the aggravation of inter-ethnic relations. In November, the opposition governor of Osh Oblast Sooronbay Jeenbekov demanded 2010 from his subordinates, including akims (heads of local administrations), heads of organizations and institutions to provide him with information only in the state language. According to the governor, over the past 20 years, insufficient attention has been paid to its development, which threatens the sovereignty of the country. In July, 2011, Mr. S. Jeenbekov, criticized a number of districts for their poor work in promoting the Kyrgyz language, in particular, the presence in hospitals, canteens, recreation centers, tax service offices, registry offices and other institutions of signs and billboards in Russian.
In March 2013, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed amendments to the law "On the official language of the Kyrgyz Republic", allowing local authorities to issue regulations only in the state (Kyrgyz) language in the event that the titular population prevails among the inhabitants administrative entity. Soon, the head of the Kyrgyz government, Jantoro Satybaldiev, approved an action plan for training Kyrgyz civil servants and transferring office work to it in central and local government bodies. In May of this year, the head of the Asab party, Salmoorbek Dyikanov, made a proposal to completely switch to the Kyrgyz language in the field of higher education, which in the republic so far has been mostly Russian-speaking. In his opinion, students from rural areas who do not know Russian experience great stress from teaching it, which threatens them with mental distortions. Meanwhile, a survey conducted in the summer of 2012 in the southern regions of the republic (1500 people, 500 teachers, parents and students) showed that 70% of schoolchildren from Batken, Osh and Jalal-Abad oblasts would like to learn not only Kyrgyz, but also Russian, among parents, the number of supporters of learning Russian reaches 90%.
In some ways, the narrowing of the sphere of application of the Russian language in Central Asia is objective.
In all countries of the region there are strong nationalistic sentiments, and in order to seize the initiative from the nationalists, the authorities are forced to administratively expand the scope of application of the title languages.
The volume of Russian-language education in recent years is not sought to be reduced only in Tajikistan, but after the flight of the majority of the Russian population during the civil war, it already is not in the best condition there. However, no one prohibits defending the position of the Russian language in Russia. This can be done both by means of diplomacy, stating that the Russian language is one of the key elements of the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, and by launching a wide variety of educational programs, the demand for which will only increase as the older generation of teachers, the Russian scientists, emerge.