Saturday, February 23, 2019

Uzbek Writer Calls for Shifting Capital from Tashkent to New City in Jizzakh Oblast

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 23 – Mamadali Makhmudov, whose penname is Ervid Turon, is calling for Uzbekistan to shift its capital from Turkmenistan which is located near the border with Kazakhstan to a new city in Jizzakh Oblast which is more centrally located, less associated with Russian imperial rule, and in the foothills of the Pamirs.

            Such a move promote the unity of that Central Asian country, give the Uzbeks a genuinely Uzbek capital and ultimately save money because Tashkent must be rebuilt, he says ( in Uzbek; in Russian).

            Makhmudov suggests that the new city should be called Temurkent, after the 14th century Uzbek leader known more commonly as Tamerlane who remains one of the most popular Uzbek national heroes. The name of the current capital, when translated from Uzbek, is the much less nationally resonant “rock city.”

            This proposal in Uzbekistan, of course, echoes what Nursultan Nazarbayev did in Kazakhstan when he moved the capital of that country from Almaty (formerly Alma Ata) to what is now known as Astana, a shift intended to highlight Kazakhstan’s status as a new country with a new capital and to emphasize its ethno-national distinctiveness.

            There is no indication at least not yet that there is or will soon be a groundswell of support for Makhmudov’s proposal.  But given the many ways in which the current Uzbekistan president, Shavkat Mirziyyev, has sought to distance himself from his authoritarian predecessor Islam Karimoov, moving the capital may be exactly the kind of step he would like.

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