Staunton, July 28 – More than 19,000 residents of Tajikistan have de-Russianized their names so far this year, dropping the “–ov” or “–ev” endings that had been de rigueur in Soviet times, according to Rustom Shohmurod, the Central Asian country’s minister of justice.
The current effort to restore Tajik spellings began following the publication of an article in Jumhuriyat by Sherhon Salimzoda, the procurator of the republic, who complained that many Tajik citizens were still using or had restored the Russian versions of their names and families because of problems they had experienced while working in the Russian Federation.
He said that Tajiks should be proud of their national names and spelling and that there was no reason for them to make any changes. His article at least initially led Tajik officials to restore their national names. The new report this week suggests that campaign is now spreading to the population at large.
And following Salimzoda’s article, Gavhar Sharofzoda, the head of the Tajik State Committee on Language and Terminology, declared that “avoiding Russian suffixes in family names is ‘the national responsibility of each citizen of Tajikistan.’”
Tajikistan’s president Emomali Rahmon dropped the “-ov” from his name in 2007. His decision to do so led other Tajiks to follow at that time. But, as the Asia Plus news agency points out in its current report, “after a certain time, [Tajiks] began returning from Russia and were again using their former [Soviet or Russian-style] family names.”
It seems unlikely that there will be a similar reversal this time. More than that, the very massiveness of this return to national rather than ‘Russianized’ names may serve as an example not only to people across Central Asia but for citizens inside the Russian Federation as well.