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Kazakh president supports bid to change capital’s name back to Astana
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has endorsed an initiative by parliamentary deputies to change the name of the country’s capital from Nur-Sultan to its previous name, Astana. Kazakh Presidential Press Secretary Ruslan Zheldibai confirmed Tokayev’s support in a Facebook post:
The president has been informed of the deputies’ initiative, which was based on suggestions made in meetings with citizens and on numerous appeals made by citizens during the referendum. With the consent of the head of state, the parliamentarians’ proposal has been included in a draft Constitutional law.
Zheldibai noted that Tokayev “considers the decisive role played by Nursultan Nazarbayev in strengthening the modern Kazakh state and forming the capital to be a historical fact.” He added that Tokayev believes other places and monuments named after Nazarbayev should retain their names.
Kazakhstan’s capital city was renamed from Astana to Nur-Sultan in March 2019 after President Tokayev proposed the change in his inauguration speech. The city had been named Astana since 1998, when it replaced Almaty as the capital. Its previous names include Akmola (from 1992-1998), Tselinograd (from 1962-1992), and Akmolinsk (from 1832-1962).
Nursultan Nazarbayev was the first president of Kazakhstan, serving from December 1991 to March 2019. He was succeeded by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. When Nazarbayev left his post, he continued to lead the country’s Security Council, and many of his relatives stayed in powerful government positions.
In January 2022, protests against increased gas prices broke into widespread unrest in Kazakhstan. To suppress the uprisings, Tokayev called on other CSTO countries, including Russia, to send in military personnel. Soon after the protests began, Tokayev replaced Nazarbayev as head of the Security Council and removed his relatives from their positions in the government and in large private firms.
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