Friday, April 29, 2016

Tajikistan Bans Russian Name Endings

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 29 – In yet another move away from Soviet and Russian patterns, the Tajikistan authorities have officially prohibited the use of Russian-style names (those ending in --ov, -ova, -ovich, and -ovna) and said that they will henceforth register only those having Tajik endings (those ending with -zod, -zoda, -i, -idn, or -far).

            Jaloliddin Rakhimov, deputy head of Tajikistan’s state registration office, told Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service today that this decision had been taken last month as a result of amendments to the law governing registration of documents and was signed at that time by the country’s president (

                Anyone registering a child or reregistering his or her own documents will be required to make the change. Those who don’t want to will be talked to, he said, and it will be explained to them that “the goal” of this rule is “the Tajikification of family names.” He said that Tajiks would then understand why this is necessary.

            If the current situation had been allowed to continue, Rakhimov continued, “ten years from now our children would be divided in two groups, one of which would be rooted with their Tajik names, and a second which would have alien ones. We must have national and patriotic feelings,” he declared.

            Dushanbe’s push to do away with Russian-imposed name endings began almost a decade ago in the spring of 2007 when the country’s president Emomali Sharifovich Rakhmonov declared his name to be Emomali Rakhmon, “in the Tajik manner,” and encouraged other officials to do the same. Many have.

            The transition was slowed, officials say, because many Tajik gastarbeiters who worked in Russian experienced difficulties with Russian companies and officials when they used the Tajik forms; and as a result, Dushanbe made concessions to them and allowed them to retain at least for a time Russian endings.  But such concessions to Russian realities will no longer be made.

            The Tajik registration office has prepared a new and even more sweeping set of reforms that will prevent Tajikistan citizens from registering as the names of their children those from Arabic or other languages, a measure of the growing nationalism in that Central Asian republic and one that may offend many Muslims there.

            But the proposed law does not stop there, Rakhimov says. It also prohibits “’names alien to the national culture” as well as those of animals and birds and those “which denigrate the honor and dignity of the individual or divide people into castes.” 

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