Russian language in Azerbaijan

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Russian is the first language of more than 150,000 people in Azerbaijan, predominantly ethnic Russians, as well as of Russified Azeris, Ukrainians, Jews, and other minorities. In 1994, 38% of Azerbaijanis spoke Russian fluently as a second language.[1]

History[edit]

Russian was introduced to the South Caucasus following its colonisation in the first half of the nineteenth century after Qajar Iran was forced to cede its Caucasian territories per the Treaty of Gulistan and Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1813 and 1828 respectively to Russia.[2] By 1830 there were schools with Russian as the language of instruction in the cities of Shusha, Baku, Elisabethpol, and Shamakhi; later such schools were established in Quba, Ordubad, and Zagatala. Education in Russian was unpopular among ethnic Azeris until 1887, when Habib bey Mahmudbeyov and Sultan Majid Ganizadeh founded the first Russian-Azeri school in Baku. A secular school with instruction in both Russian and Azeri, its programs were designed to be consistent with the cultural values and traditions of the Muslim population.[3] Eventually 240 such schools, including a women's college founded in 1901, were established prior to the "Sovietization" of the South Caucasus.[4] The first Russian-Azeri reference library opened in 1894.[5] In 1918, during the short period of the Azerbaijan's independence, the government declared Azerbi the official language, but the use of Russian in government documents was permitted until all civil servants mastered the official language.[6]

In the Soviet era, the large Russian population of Baku, the quality and prospects of education in Russian, increased access to Russian literature, and other factors contributed to the intensive Russification of the Baku's population. Its direct result by the mid-twentieth century was the formation of a supra-ethnic urban Baku subculture, uniting people of Russian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Jewish, and other origins and whose special features were being cosmopolitan and Russian-speaking.[7][8][9] The widespread use of Russian resulted in a phenomenon of 'Russian-speaking Azeris', i.e. an emergence of an urban community of Azerbaijani-born ethnic Azeris who considered Russian their native language.[10] In 1970, 57,500 Azeris (1.3%) identified Russian as their native language.[11]

Russian-language Azerbaijani literature[edit]

The first works by Azerbaijani authors in Russian were published in the nineteenth century. In 1883 Ahmad bey Javanshir wrote a historical sketch in Russian entitled "On the Political status of Karabakh Khanate between 1745-1805."

Ismayil bey Gutgashynly and Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli published original works in Russian in the years before the October Revolution. The great propagator of the Russian language among the Azeri population was playwright Mirza Fatali Akhundov, founder of Azeri dramaturgy.

Russian-language Azeri literature continued to develop throughout the Soviet era. Its outstanding representatives are Imran Gasimov, Hasan Seyidbayli, Magsud and Rustam Ibragimbekovs, Natig Rasulzadeh, Alla Akhundova and Chingiz Abdullayev among others.[12]

In 2003, Russian-Azerbaijani writers "Ray" and the Moscow branch of the Writers Union of Azerbaijan was established. In 2004, an association of writers and poets called Commonwealth of Literature was founded.

Russian in the arts[edit]

Since the second half of the nineteenth century, Russian folk and pop songs have appeared in repertoires of Bulbuljan, Muslim Magomayev, Rashid Behbudov Polad Bülbüloğlu, Zeynab Khanlarova, Flora Karimova, the Qaya group and many others. Even after independence from the Soviet Union Azerbaijani singers such as Brilliant Dadashova and Aygun Kazimova have continued to write and perform songs in Russian.

During the Soviet era, Azerbaijanfilm produced dozens of feature-length and documentary films in Russian, including famous films like The Telephone, Don't Worry, I'm With You, Asif, Vasif, Aghasif and Exam. Films in Russian continue to be produced in Azerbaijan in the post-Soviet era.[13]

Russian today[edit]

Outside of the capital, the use of Russian sharply declined after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Similarly, the Russian-speaking subculture in Baku experienced strong decline due to emigration of a large numbers of Russians. Nevertheless the Russian language continues to feature prominently in the daily life of people in Baku.[14] As in the Soviet times, today the use of Russian in Azerbaijan is concentrated among the intellectuals and "élite" of the nation, however, a survey conducted by the Eurasia Heritage Foundation ranked Azerbaijan among former Soviet republics with the worst level of knowledge of Russian, along with Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Tajikistan.[15]

In 2002, President Heydar Aliyev issued a decree establishing Azerbaijani as the sole language of state operation. Shop signs, forms, and stamps in Russian were replaced with Azeri ones.[16] At the same time compulsory teaching of Russian in schools was made optional.

In 2007, by decree of the National Broadcasting Council, live broadcasting of Russian TV channels ceased. Officially, this action was undertaken to protect Azerbaijan's national frequencies, which were declared a "national treasure of the country," from the influence of foreign media.[17] It was rumored however, that the main reason was to eliminate the alleged pro-Armenian orientation of Russian TV channels covering the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.[18]

In 2008, the government banned foreign language broadcasts on Azerbaijani television and radio channels, except for a daily newscast in Russian.[19] This measure faced strong opposition from the media and public.[20][21][22][23][24] Dissenters argued that Azerbaijan still has a large Russian-speaking community, pointing to the success of some Russian-language television shows.[25][26][27] Ultimately an exception was made for certain Russian broadcast, but Azeri subtitles were made required.[28]

Despite the significantly strengthened position of the Azerbaijani language in the post-Soviet era, several Russian language periodicals continue to be published in Baku. The Association of Russian Writers also functions.

Features of Russian in Azerbaijan[edit]

The Russian vernacular spoken in Azerbaijan differs from standard Russian due to the influence of the Azeri spoken throughout the country. At the phonetic level, this influence can be seen specifically in the initial lengthening of vowels,[29] a sharp rise in intonation at the end of a question,[30] and the use of the voiced palato-alveolar affricate.[31] On the lexical level, a number of predominantly slang terms of both Azeri and Russian origin are gradually penetrating into print media.[32]

Education[edit]

There are more than 300 schools across the country, including 18 local high schools and 38 secondary specialized schools that provide instruction in Russian.

On 13 June 2000, Baku Slavic University was founded in Baku, Azerbaijan on the basis of the Akhundov Pedagogical Institute of Russian Language and Literature.[33]

On November 24, 2009, Azerbaijan became the first ex-Soviet country to open the Russian Book House store. The opening ceremony was attended by the head of the Presidential Administration of Russia Sergei Naryshkin.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Suny, Ronald and others, "Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia." DIANE Publishing, 1996; with. 103
  2. ^ "Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond ...". Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Humbatov, Tamara. Baku and the Germans: 1885 - 1887 years.
  4. ^ Mamedov, N. education system in Azerbaijan.
  5. ^ Azerbaijan in the second half of the nineteenth century.
  6. ^ Aryeh Wasserman. «A Year of Rule by the Popular Front of Azerbaijan». Yaacov Ro'i (ed.). Muslim Eurasia: Conflicting Legaies. Routledge, 1995; p. 153
  7. ^ Rumyantsev, Sergey. capital, a city or village. Results of urbanization in a separate taken in the South Caucasus republic.
  8. ^ Mamardashvili, Merab. «The solar plexus" of Eurasia.
  9. ^ Chertovskikh, Juliana and Lada Stativina . Azerbaijan lost Nasiba Zeynalova.
  10. ^ Yunusov, Arif. Ethnic and migration processes in the post-Soviet Azerbaijan.
  11. ^ Alexandre Bennigsen, S. Enders Wimbush. Muslims of the Soviet Empire. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1985; with. 138
  12. ^ Encyclopedia "Krugosvet ". Azerbaijan literature.
  13. ^ "National Bomb" caused a sensation in Moscow. "Echo". July 5, 2004.
  14. ^ Elmira Akhundova. Interview for "The Mirror". February 21, 2009.
  15. ^ Alexander Caravan. Russian language and culture in the CIS countries (for example, Azerbaijan): A Study of Fund "Eurasia Heritage Foundation." Information-Analytical Center, 2008.
  16. ^ Law of the Azerbaijan Republic "On State language of Azerbaijan Republic" ( on September 30, 2002, № 5247)
  17. ^ Timur Rzayev. "first" fell victim to the ambitions. "Week". July 13, 2007.
  18. ^ Stella Gavrilova. «First Channel" covered up. "RBC-daily». July 11, 2007.
  19. ^ Nushiravan Maharramli: "On the first day of January shall enter into force a ban on the demonstration of films in foreign languages on Azerbaijani TV channels." Day.az. November 21, 2007.
  20. ^ Nushiravan Maharramli: "The TV space, all programs must be passed in the Azerbaijani language." Day.az. December 29, 2008
  21. ^ TV «Lider»: «Now we have to translate into Azerbaijani foreign music videos, and ballet." Day.az. January 22, 2009.
  22. ^ Akbar Hasanov. crime or error, or what is behind the "crusade" against the Russian language in Azerbaijan?. Day.az. January 8, 2008.
  23. ^ Rustam Akhmedov. Great and mighty Azeri ban. Day.az. January 11, 2008.
  24. ^ again to close the TV is not in the Azerbaijani language. Day.az. January 6, 2009.
  25. ^ Chingiz Abdullayev, "I hope that the broadcast of" What? Where? When "not close". Day.az. December 17, 2008.
  26. ^ Sharovsky Alexander: "The closure of the transfer of Azerbaijan," What? Where? When "only impoverish our inner world." Day.az. December 20, 2008.
  27. ^ Azer Garibov: "Location," What? Where? When "on TV will take another shoplifting transfer about the world of show business." Day.az. December 20, 2008.
  28. ^ culture/142325.html transfer of 'What? Where? When "Azerbaijan will come out with subtitles in Azerbaijani language. Day.az. December 30, 2008.
  29. ^ Eugene Feinberg. Take the road to the Russian-Russian: dictionary sociolinguists have made cities of the former USSR. New Russian Word Eurasian version. № 39 (33 723).
  30. ^ Tom de Waal. Black Garden.. Chapter 7.
  31. ^ Scientific Reports of Higher Education: Philology. Gos. Publishing House "Soviet science", 1987; with. 78
  32. ^ "Languages of Russian cities." The project "Linguistic»
  33. ^ Sevda Shahmedova (2010-10-10). .1news.az/society/20101010075822273.html "be celebrated anniversary of Baku Slavic University". 1NEWS.AZ. 
  34. ^ Sergei Naryshkin: Book House in Baku will be the center of Russian culture.Vesti.ru