Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mongolia TV Broadcasts to Buryatia and Tuva

By Paul Goble

Ulaanbaatar has launched television programming directed at the Buryats, with whom the Mongols are closely related linguistically and religiously, and at the Tuvins, with whom they share a common Buddhist heritage. This represents another way in which Mongolia, rather than European Russia, is becoming a center of attraction for the non-Russian peoples in what has sometimes been called “the Baikal cork,” the small strip of land south of Lake Baikal through which passes almost all of Russia’s communications and transportation links with the Russian Far East (;

The Mongolian government announced this new channel, MN2, at the sixth annual meeting of Mongolians with Tuvans from the Republic of Tuva and Buryats from the Republic of Buryatia, Irkutsk oblast’s Ust-Orda District (which was a self-standing federal subject of the Russian Federation prior to Vladimir Putin’s regional amalgamation campaign), and Inner Mongolia of the Chinese People’s Republic. Both the meeting and the new channel are being supported with assistance from UNESCO.

But television was far from the only topic at last week’s meeting in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolian officials also discussed how to improve Buryat-language media in Buryat regions of the Russian Federation and how to promote a Buryat-language Internet community, something that many Buryats have felt they currently lack.  As such, this Mongolian-UNESCO effort will help promote the survival and even growth of Buryat and Tuvinian identity at a time when Moscow is cutting back on support for non-Russian languages.

Moreover, this Mongolian program gives both the Buryats and the Tuvins new international contacts, something that will help them defend their nations against russianization and russification, giving them a new focus beyond the borders of the Russian Federation. As this session demonstrated, they welcome this new opportunity. The spread of such opportunities for other nations within the borders of the Russian Federation will undoubtedly worry Moscow, however successful it has been in limiting Western broadcasting to the country as a whole.

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