Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 141

The lower house of Kyrgyzstan’s legislature has rejected last week’s proposal by the upper house to hold a referendum on elevating the Russian language to official status on a par with the Kyrgyz language. Lower house chairman Almambet Matubraimov objected that such a decision could produce interethnic tensions between Kyrgyz and Russians, and that it was in any case unconstitutional because the fundamental law provides for one state language, the Kyrgyz. The chairman offered by way of compromise to legislate the use of Russian along with Kyrgyz in official correspondence. (15)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has been mostly unsuccessful in its push for granting the Russian language official status alongside the native language in CIS countries. Russian leverage tends to be proportionate to the country’s economic dependence, which is high in Kyrgyzstan’s case. President Askar Akayev supported the proposed referendum, planned to have been held concurrently with the country’s general elections December 24. Proponents argue that the concession would help halt emigration of Russian skilled personnel from the republic. That emigration has declined in 1995 compared to the preceding years, but remains significant. Approximately 60,000 Russians left Kyrgyzstan during the first nine months of 1995.

1. Itar-Tass, Russian TV, November 23; Nezavisimaya gazeta November 25

2. Moskovsky komsomolets, November 23

3. Russian TV, November 23

4. Moskovskie novosti, no. 80, November 19-26

5. Itar-Tass, Russian TV, November 26; Reuter, November 27

6. Interfax, November 24

7. Izvestia, November 21

8. Finansovye izvestiya, November 23

9. Segodnya, November 24

10. Petroleum Information Agency, November 22

11. BNS, November 23 through 26

12. Flux, November 22 and 23

13. Basapress, November 23

14. Interfax and Western agencies, November 25 and 26

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