Tajikistan bans Russified surnames

Lawmakers in a move to revive traditional names approve a bill banning identification documents containing Russified surname

News Desk

DUSHANBE: Tajik lawmakers have approved a bill banning the issuance of new identification documents and birth certificates for ethnic Tajiks containing Russified surnames, the latest attempt to revive traditional names.

Justice Minister Muzaffar Ashuryon said after the bill was approved by parliament’s lower chamber, the Assembly of Representatives, on April 29 that the government had initiated the bill to comply with the state program on “returning national names.”

According to the bill, ethnic Tajik children whose parents have surnames from the Soviet era that end with the Russian “ov” for men and “ova” for women will instead be given documents that use traditional Tajik suffixes — “i,” “zod,” “zoda,” “iyon,” “far,” “dukht,” or “pur.”

The regulation also applies to the birth certificates of newborn ethnic Tajiks or ethnic Tajik children receiving identification documents for the first time.

Adults who previously obtained documents with a Russified surname and choose to continue using that surname will be allowed to do so.

The law does not apply to children who are not ethnic Tajiks.

Many Tajik officials have changed their Russified names into traditional Tajik ones in recent years after the Central Asian state’s president officially changed his Soviet-era Russified name, Imomali Sharipovich Rakhmonov, to Emomali Rahmon in 2007.

The authorities have been trying to encourage citizens via orders and presidential decrees to change their Russified names for years but the attempts were not always successful, as many Tajiks preferred to preserve their Russified names to make it easier for them to live in Russia as migrant workers.

Hundreds of thousands of Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Kyrgyz work as migrant workers in Russian towns and cities, where they must prolong their work permits and other documents on a regular basis.

The bill now must be approved by parliament’s upper chamber, the National Assembly, before Rahmon signs it into law.–RFE/RL

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