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 (mungen-tobsho.com/k-mezhdunarodnomu-dnyu-buryatskogo-yazyka-v-mongolii/; asiarussia.ru/news/social-1021/).
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.