Tajikistan bans Russian-style surnames for children

Tajikistan passed the new law in March and officials began applying it immediately when drawing up birth certificates although it only entered force Friday.

AFP| Updated: Apr 29, 2016, 23:55 PM IST

Dushanbe: Ex-Soviet Tajikistan on Friday imposed a legal ban on giving newborn babies surnames with Russian-style endings, in line with a government drive towards a more traditional national identity.

Tajiks began Russifying their surnames while under Soviet rule and this grew into a mass phenomenon in the postwar years.

But the long-serving president of the impoverished Central Asian country, Emomali Rakhmon, has discouraged this in recent years in a drive to boost patriotism.

He also ended the use of Russian as an official language in 2009, although the Tajik language is still written in an adapted form of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.

Tajikistan passed the new law in March and officials began applying it immediately when drawing up birth certificates although it only entered force Friday.

The move, under which "-ov" and "-ev" endings are banned, comes after Rakhmon himself in 2007 changed his surname from Rakhmonov, prompting ministers and civil servants to follow, as well as his own children.

However there was some resistance, particularly among Tajiks who work abroad in Russia.

Under the new law, all children must be given surnames with endings that are native to the country, including "-zod," "-pur" and "-far."

A few months ago the Tajik parliament passed a law banning first names for children that are "alien to national culture and tradition" as well as naming them after household objects and wild animals.

Rakhmon has criticised Tajiks for giving their children "scary names" such as "Wolf," saying such names made him shudder.