Rustam Minnikhanov and Mintimer Shaimiev about preservation of the Tatar language at schools
Acting President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and first President and current State Counsellor Mintimer Shaimiev during a session of the Tatarstan State Council expressed their position on the language issue and the problem of teaching the Tatar language at schools. Realnoe Vremya presents to the reader the transcripts of their speeches.
Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan
I need to speak out: we have gone too far, we're back in the nineties. How have we managed to divide the society, especially when we had not had any issue on interethnic relations before? Perhaps, this problem did exist and it had to be considered, but not in that form. Once the document appeared, we created a working group, worked together with the Prosecutor's office and defended, argued, corrected our curricula based on those requirements that existed. We should have brought this work to the end. I turned to the Prosecutor and to the Prosecutor General and explained that we need time to bring this work to the end together with the ministry of education of Russia. But unfortunately, the blame was put on school directors, but this is completely wrong. We all are to blame, not school directors. They just followed the instructions. School directors today are the intellectual potential of the republic on the threshold of the elections. All the electoral processes will be carried out by our school directors, but we have created all this mess. Or was it done on purpose in order Tatarstan had a bad attitude to our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin? How they even could come up with this.
Unfortunately, the Russian education ministry had no reaction, but now we are having a constructive dialogue — we will find a common point of solution of this issue. It is wrong to interpret it in a free manner as we like. How can the state language be voluntary? Yes, in Switzerland you voluntarily choose two state languages out of four languages, but we have only one state language — of our subject. I agree, we need to work on rhetoric, on the amount of hours. We understand these issues and are working on this. When we have the results of our work with the ministry of education, we'll report to you. If someone wants to say that the president of Tatarstan is not working on the problem — I am, do not politicize the issue. Now opposition forces are trying to be supporters of the Tatar language to sow discord between the Russians and Tatars. We cannot allow to do it.
''We have gone too far, we're back in the nineties. How have we managed to divide the society, especially when we had not had any issue on interethnic relations before?'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
I am addressing to you, Ildus Saidovich: if you have any complaints, please turn to me, why terrorizing school directors? They are our people, after all! How can you work with people like that. We know that we need to change many things. You know what documents we have prepared, we have openly discussed the issue with you, and nobody conceals that. But today we have gone too far. We should not escalate the situation either here, at the State Council meeting. I think that we should work on the issues in working order with the ministry of education, and then we will report. If we fail, we will tell that we fail. We need to bring to a logical conclusion the work we are doing. Yesterday, we had a good meeting on the base of the assembly, they also supported the scheme. Ildus Saidovich, school directors are not to blame. You shouldn't change everything all of a sudden using a force method — you've created so much tension…
Laws must not be interpreted in a free manner. We have the law, the Russian Constitution, the Constitution of the Republic of Tatarstan. We have worked and lived with these laws for already 20 years. Probably, it it necessary to make some amendments and changes — we agree. But we do not dispute the academic hours amount of the Russian language, after all. I wonder who needs to undermine stability? This is true not only for Tatarstan. But we must endure this journey to the end and thereby provide stability.
Mintimer Shaimiev, State Counselor of the Republic of Tatarstan, the first president of the Republic of Tatarstan
I have a suggestion in the course of the work that you are carrying out. One moment, from my point of view, must be respected strictly. After all, this year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of Tatarstan. Next year — the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In both, Russian and Tatarstan constitutions, the relevant articles are flawlessly compiled. We have observed these articles for 25 years. What is the need to do it in the middle of the academic year all of a sudden?
I don't know what the motives are. It is immoral to infringe on the educational process. We teach in schools from morning until night, for years and decades, in all times — kindness and tolerance. As if it is being purposefully done with teachers, who bring literacy and educational process, and pupils – our pupils are well educated — we are politicizing them.
''We have been working for 25 years — and suddenly, in the midst of the academic year, a destruction. What has happened?'' Photo: Mikahil Kozlovsky
My suggestion is following. We should not change anything during the academic year, we should continue the work that is currently underway. I think it will go to a certain constructive point. We have always found agreements, solutions. By the meeting in August of the coming year we should be able to report on the standards and how to proceed further. Now it is just impossible to change anything.
We have been working for 25 years — and suddenly, in the midst of the academic year, a destruction. What has happened, after all? What will happen in a few days? Vladimir Putin expressed concern about the state of the Russian language first of all, while supporting the idea of teaching the native languages. So the suggestion is following: we should not interfere in the learning process and we should continue constructive work until the end of the academic year.