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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Last Aleut Speaker Dies in Russia and Only One Nivkh Speaker Remains on Sakhalin

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 8 – For years, Kremlin propagandists and loyalist ethnographers like Valery Tishkov repeatedly claimed that while some small nationalities had died off in the Russian Imperial and Soviet past, the post-Soviet Russian government had taken so many positive actions that this demise of nations had been stopped.

            But now reports are coming in showing that such claims were at the very least overblown and that even officials are now acknowledging that some of the numerically small nations of the Russian North and Far East are passing from the scene and that this represents “an enormous loss” not only for these peoples but also for the country and the world.

            Kamchatka Kray head Vladimir Solodov has reported that Gennady Yakovlev, the last speaker of Aleut in the Russian Federation has died; and Vladimir Sangi, 87, has announced that he is the last speaker of Nivkh on Sakhalin (idel-ural.org/archives/kto-sleduyushhij-ischeznet-my-ili-imperiya/#more-13352 and nazaccent.ru/content/39188-osnovatel-nivhskoj-literatury-yazyk-nivhov-blizitsya-k-ischeznoveniyu.html).

            Vladimir Putin is currently fighting a war in Ukraine at least ostensibly to save the Russian nation and the Russian language; but while he is doing so, the lack of resources and support for non-Russian languages within his country is being cut back so that reports about the disappearance of the last speakers of some of these are likely to become more frequent.

            If even one-thousandth of one percent of the resources the Kremlin leader is now using to destroy Ukrainian cities and kill Ukrainians were being devoted to saving these numerically small linguistic and ethnic groups, Russia and the world would be far richer and better off.

2644322 Window on Eurasia — New Series

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