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Nazarbaev Signs Decree On Kazakh Language Switch To Latin-Based Alphabet

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (file photo)
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (file photo)

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has signed a decree setting out plans to switch from a Cyrillic-based script for the Kazakh language to a Latin-based alphabet.

The decree posted on the president's website on October 27 says that a national commission will implement the gradual shift to the Latin alphabet by 2025.

Nazarbaev, in power since before the 1991 Soviet collapse, has been talking about switching to Latin for years. In April, he ordered authorities to come up with a new alphabet for the Kazakh language by the end of 2017.

The move is seen as an effort to emphasize Kazakh culture and distance the country from Russia, its Imperial-era and Soviet-era master.

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Kazakhstan has used a Cyrillic-based alphabet for nearly 80 years.

In 1929, Soviet authorities replaced traditional Arabic-based alphabets used by Muslim minorities in the Soviet Union with Latin-based national alphabets. In 1940, the Latin alphabet was replaced with Cyrillic, the alphabet used in the Russian language.

Former Soviet republics Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- which, like Kazakhstan are Turkic-speaking nations -- abandoned Cyrillic scripts and switched to Latin-based alphabet in the early years after the Soviet breakup.

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