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    ENGLISH SECOND-BEST OF RUSSIANS' SPOKEN LANGUAGES

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 12, RIA NOVOSTI - English comes second after the titular language in Russian usage, shows the latest Russian population census-of autumn 2002. Vladimir Zorin, federal Minister for Nationalities Policies, offered some of its statistics to the media today.

    98.2 per cent of permanent Russian residents have a fluent command of Russian. English comes next, with 4.8 per cent. Then come Tatar, 3.7%, German, 2%, Ukrainian, 1.2%, and Bashkir, 1%.

    There are close on 5% more people with a command of other languages spoken in Russia, beside Russian, than the previous census registered in 1989. The figure reflects progress of multilingualism and of ethnic languages. Putting it differently, studies of Russian as the nation's official language are not ousting other ethnic languages into the margins, said the minister.

    As for fluent English and German, that shows Russians' eagerness for international ties not in declarations alone but at a practical level as language tuition improves, and the public is willing to learn.

    The 2002 census specifies an approximate 160 big and small ethnic entities and groups throughout the country. The seven largest-Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, the Chuvash, Chechens and Armenians-exceed a million each. Russians roughly account for 80 per cent of the country's entire permanent population.

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