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Azerbaijan Planning To De-Russify Family Names

Soon to be President Ilham Ali?
Soon to be President Ilham Ali?
BAKU -- An Azerbaijani parliamentary committee is preparing a draft law on the de-Russification of Azerbaijani last names, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Culture Committee Chairman Nizami Jafarov told journalists in Baku on February 5 that a commission from the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences spent six months developing the concept behind the draft legislation.

Jafarov said the plan has been sent to the presidential administration for further discussion and he expects either a presidential decree or a new law to follow that would begin changing the endings of Azerbaijanis' last names to remove the Russian element.

He said the name changes would begin with obligatory changes for all newborns and that others who wanted to change their names would be encouraged to do so.

Jafarov said it still has not been determined what ending Azerbaijani names should have under the new legislation.

Most Azerbaijani surnames currently have a Russian ending of "ov" or "ev" for males and "ova" or "eva" for females, a legacy from the decades under which Azerbaijan was ruled by Russia and later as part of the Soviet Union.

Since Azerbaijan gained independence in 1991, many Azerbaijanis have nationalized their names by either removing the Russian endings (for example Ismayilova would be shortened to Ismayil) or by changing the "ov" or "ev" to "ly".

Ali Hasanov, the head of the social-political department of President Ilham Aliyev's administration, has suggested that the Russian endings on people's names be changed to "az" because it is Azerbaijan's domain on the Internet and also the first two letters of the name of the country.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon changed his name from Rakhmonov a few years ago to remove the Russification of his family name.