Malay language interest flourishing in RussiaBy Dr. Victor A. Pogadaev
July 10, 2021 @ 12:29am
At the very centre of Moscow, in a yellow-and-white mansion on Mokhovaya street, also one of the old buildings of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, one institute is located in which those who dream about the Orient are studying.
This is the Institute for Asian and African Studies, which recently celebrated its 65th anniversary. "Education with a view to Kremlin", the students joke.
Among its alumni are well-known politicians, diplomats, journalists, businessmen and even the press secretary to the president of Russia. All of them are united by their love for the Orient.
Just imagine, all this may not have happened if not for Nikita Khrushchev. Some claimed that when he visited India in 1955, and asked if the Hindi language was studied in the USSR, he proudly declared: "Yes, at the Oriental Faculty at Moscow University."
There was no such faculty at the Moscow State University then. But, to save face, Khrushchev on his return to Moscow gave the appropriate order, and in 1956, the Institute of Oriental Languages appeared at the Moscow State University. In 1972, it was transformed into the Institute for Asian and African Studies.
This story, however, is most likely a myth. The creation of such an institution was a requirement of the time. The post-war years were the era of the national liberation movement and the collapse of colonialism in the East, when many newly independent countries of Asia and Africa appeared in the international arena (for example, Indonesia in 1945, India in 1952, Malaysia in 1957, etc).
Naturally, the development of cooperation relations with them demanded specialists who knew not only oriental languages but also a deep knowledge of these countries, their history, economy, politics and culture.
Malay-Indonesian studies took an important place in the new institute. Until today, it remains the main centre for learning Malay and its variants in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei.
I entered the institute in 1965, that is, the institute was not even 10 years old, but it had wonderful teachers. Malay was read to us by Andrei Pavlenko and Lyudmila Demidyuk, history by Dega Deopik, Elizaveta Gnevusheva, Rustem Sevortyan and Yuri Gavrilov, economics by Alexander Pekarsky, literature by Nadezhda Smurova and practical lessons in the language by Indonesian professors Intojo and Sjahrul Sjarif.
For an internship in Malay, we went to Universiti Malaya in 1970. Our group was small, but almost all students, upon graduating from the institute, made a significant contribution to the development of Malay and Indonesian studies in Russia.
Tatiana Dorofeeva continued the work of her lecturers and began to teach Malay, and also acted as a translator, translating the short stories of Usman Awang and a novel by Shahnon Ahmad, Seluang Menodak Baung (How the smalls defeated an elephant), into Russian.
Zhenya Rudenko began to work in the oriental division of the Progress publishing house, where he edited translations of other specialists, and became famous for having translated the novel, This Earth of Mankind, by Pramoedya Ananta Toer.
Alla Borukhovskaya, while working at the same publishing house, translated Usman Awang's novel, The Scattered Bones. Seda Kuznetsova published a book on Javanese culture before moving to London.
The new generation is on a par with their predecessors in continuing the interest in Malay language.
Eugenia Kukushkina, head of the Department of Languages of Southeast Asia, also teaches Malay and engages in research in the field of Malay literature, especially drama. She knows how to captivate her students, making them love Malaysia.
Her student, Artyom, who just completed his studies at the institute, says: "I focused on Malay (and consequently Malaysia), which I found tremendously interesting. Malaysia encompasses everything I've ever dreamed about when imagining what Asia should look like — multinational population, vivid history combining Hindu-Buddha and Islamic legacy within the culture, along with a truly genuine Asian vibe."
And I am sure that both Artyom and her other students will not let down their alma mater and become wonderful specialists who will contribute to Malay studies in Russia, as well as Russian-Malaysian cooperation.
Source : New Straits Times
Link : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2021/07/706861/malay-language-interest-flourishing-russia