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A Central Almaty Street Gets A New Name: Nursultan Nazarbaev Avenue


ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A central street in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, has been renamed after President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

A lawyer of the Almaty City Council, Berik Manizorov, told RFE/RL that the council had decided on November 30 to change the name of Dmitry Furmanov Street to Nursultan Nazarbaev Avenue.

Nazarbaev has been president of Kazakhstan since 1991, the year it gained independence in the breakup of the Soviet Union, and before that had headed it as Communist Party chief since 1989.

He won a new term in a 2015 election in which international observers said voters were not offered a genuine choice, and critics say he has held onto power by suppressing dissent.

Furmanov was a writer whose 1923 novel about Red Army commander Vasily Chapayev is a Soviet-era classic. A 1934 film based on the book was extremely popular in the Soviet Union.

Almost all streets in Almaty, then Kazakhstan's capital, were renamed after the Soviet collapse. But Furmanov Street had remained unchanged, sparking speculation that it would one day -- perhaps after his death -- be named after Nazarbaev.

In 1998, Nazarbaev moved the Kazakh capital from Almaty to Aqmola and changed that city's name to Astana, which means "the capital" in Kazakh.

Many Kazakhs suspect the capital will be named after Nazarbaev in the future.

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