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Kyrgyz Language Commission Head Sacked Over De-Russification Plan

Azimjan Ibraimov

Azimjan Ibraimov

BISHKEK -- The head of a state body for developing the Kyrgyz language has been sacked over a plan to de-Russify place names, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The press service of President Roza Otunbaeva announced that Azimjan Ibraimov had voluntarily stepped down as chief of the Presidential National Commission for the State (Kyrgyz) Language Development.

But Ibraimov told RFE/RL that he was called in to see a top official, whose name he did not disclose, on February 10 and forced to sign a letter of resignation.

Ibraimov declined to talk about the reasons behind his resignation, saying that it would be unethical to discuss and comment on his former supervisors.

Officials in the presidential office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that Ibraimov was sacked because of his de-Russification plan, which was apparently complicating Bishkek's efforts to improve ties with Moscow.

The project was initiated after the commission was reformed in July and Ibraimov became its head.

It planned to restore historic Kyrgyz names to some villages, towns, and other sites, replacing their Soviet-era Russian names.

The initiative came in for criticism, particularly from some of Kyrgyzstan's Russian-language media outlets, which called it a political decision against Russia and an attempt to violate "the rights of the non-Kyrgyz population of the country."

Russian, Kyrgyzstan's second state language, is widely spoken in the Central Asian country, especially in big cities.

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