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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tajikistan Downgrades Russian Language

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — The former Soviet republic of Tajikistan has downgraded the status of the Russian language.

The move has caused concern among members of the Central Asian nation's Russian-speaking minority.

A law that came into force Wednesday says all government business must be conducted exclusively in Tajik, a language closely related to Persian.

Use of Russian has declined markedly in impoverished Tajikistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union. A 1990s civil war prompted much of the Russian-speaking population to flee the country.

Knowledge of Russian still remains a crucial link with Russia and other former Soviet republics.

About 100,000 of Tajikistan's 7 million people speak Russian as their first language. About a million ethnic Uzbeks also live in Tajikistan.