Kazakhstan to be renamed

Victoria Panfilova, columnist of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, specially for Vestnik Kavkaza
Kazakhstan to be renamed

Parliament members from Ak Zhiol parliamentary faction suggested renaming the Republic of Kazakhstan into the Kazakh Republic. According to them, it will recover justice and a native name of the country. Experts believe the statement is “a political message” which can lead to ambiguous consequences.

On January 23rd, Azat Peruashev, the leader of Ak Zhol in the parliament, addressed Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev to consider renaming the country into the Kazakh Republic. “We all know about deep historical roots of independent Kazakhstan, about innovations of our ancestors who influenced the world civilization. Our President wrote about that in his article “Seven Edges of the Great Steppe.” Due to the Mangilik El idea, the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate was marked at the top level,” his address said.

Peruashev points out that in 2020, Kazakhstan will mark the 100th anniversary of establishment of the Kazakh Republic in the USSR. “It was a platform for nation-building of future independent Kazakhstan. The Azerbaijani Republic marked its 100th anniversary last year on the same ground. According to an official order of Russian President, the 100th anniversary of Bashkortostan will be marked in 2019. Thus, Ak Zhol Democratic Party suggests paying a special attention to the 100th anniversary of the Kazakh Republic and dignified marking the date,” Azat Peruashev said at the parliamentary session. He thinks that “giving the republic its native name, Kazakh, will not only recover justice, but also encourage the unity and friendship between our compatriots of all ethnic groups.” He also said that in 2014 President Nazarbayev raised the topic of renaming Kazakhstan into the Kazakh Republic – Kazak Eli. “El” means “a state,” “motherland,” and “birthplace.” It means the suggested name is directly translated as “the state of Kazakhs.” Nazarbayev explained the initiative by promotion of the country’s image. The ending “-stan” is associated with neighboring countries and Afghanistan in investors and tourists’ minds.

However, according to experts, today the rebranding idea is built on hammering ideology on people’s heads and searching for national identity. The period of renaming cities and towns is almost over in the country. Soon, instead of Pavlodar, we will see Kureku on the map.

At the same time, social networks users majorly negatively react at the country’s renaming. Some say that “it’s a diversionary tactic to avoid talking about economic problems in the country.” At least, the majority believes life won’t be better in the Kazakh Republic. A user nicknamed Aman wrote: “Dear parliament members and senators! Please get busy! Nothing will change with a change of our country’s name.”

“It’s naïve to think that the initiative belongs to one of not very important Kazakh politicians. Azat Peruashev recently met the nation’s leader. The suggestion is not improvisation. Peruashev is a man of the system. Firstly, he is not risky. Secondly, he attentively listens to the president’s office. We see studying of a public opinion within the framework of the main ideological document – “Rukhani Zhangyru – Looking Forward” and President Nazarbayev’s article Seven Edges of the Great Steppe,” Andrei Grozin, the director of the Middle Asia and Kazakhstan Department of the CIS Institute, told Vestnik Kavkaza. He says that the authorities pull out the agenda of National Patriots.