First it was Uzbekistan who decided to ban Cyrillic to convert the Uzbek language to the Latin alphabet.
Now another former Soviet Republic, Tajikistan, has announced its decision to ban the use of Russian by state agencies in order to support the reemergence of the local language. Some have questioned whether Tajikistan is more serious about eliminating or simply trying to garner financial support from Russia who feels threatened by the growing independence movements among former Soviet subjects.
Tajik Persian is the Tajik language, sometimes called Tajiki, is a modern variety of the Persian language and spoken in Central Asia. Most speakers of Tajik live in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Tajik is the official language of Tajikistan. The language has diverged from Persian as spoken in Afghanistan and Iran, as a result of political borders, geographical isolation, the standardisation process, and the influence of Russian and neighbouring Turkic languages.
The Republic of Tajikistan is a very mountainous country which borders Afghanistan in the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north and the People’s Republic of China to the east. Tajikistan also lies adjacent to Pakistan.
The ethnic makeup of Tajikistan’s population mostly belongs to the Tajik ethnic group, who share culture and history with the Iranian peoples. Tajikistan was once part of the Central Asian Samanid Empire but was forced into the Soviet Union in the 20th century. During the Soviet period it was known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR).
Tajikistan is much like Mexico is to the USA in that mostly mostly illegal workers in Russia who send money back to their families, according to the World Bank, earn almost 50 percent of the Tajik financial economy.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, who wields broad powers, called on the government to speed up implementation of a bill that would require state agencies and companies to communicate with one another and issue official documents exclusively in Tajik according to it’s official news agency. The bill would also make knowledge of the local language a requirement of every Tajik citizen.
“A speedy adoption of a new law about the [national] language is needed,” Rakhmon said in a televised address to the nation, according to a transcript on his official web site in the Russian and Tajik languages saying, “A state language … is an attribute of political independence.”
President Rakhmon’s televised address was done on the anniversary of the law on the national language adopted on July 22, 1989. That law made Tajik the national language but gave every citizen the right to choose between Tajik and Russian when addressing state agencies. Official Tajik web sites are published in Tajik, Russian and English. About 15 percent of the population is ethnic Uzbek, while Russians and Kyrgyz each comprise about 1 percent.
Analysts believe Tajikistan is using language as a new chip in the political bargaining between Russia and Tajikistan. Russian authorities have said it might be necessary to ban employment to futureTajik citizens living in Russia who don’t speak Russian.