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Kyrgyz Migrants Returning To Russified Surnames

BATKEN, Kyrgyzstan -- Many people in the southern Kyrgyz region of Batken are changing their family names back to their Soviet-era, Russified surnames, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Gulmira Omosheva, the chief of Batken's civil records center, told RFE/RL that in the last nine months, 320 locals have changed their Kyrgyz surnames back to the Russified versions. She said almost all of them are labor migrants traveling to Russia for seasonal work.

Those changing their names back to the Russian versions say it is easier for them to get registered with Russian police and even get better jobs if they have a "Soviet-type" surname ending with "ov," "ova," "ev," or "eva."

They said having a traditional Kyrgyz surname made their lives in Russia more complicated as local officials consider them to be more foreign. They also added that it is far easier to eventually get Russian citizenship if they have a Russified surname.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Central Asians changed their surnames back to the traditional family names they had before they were Russified by Soviet officials. There are hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz citizens working in Russia.