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Surname Change As “National Duty” in Tajikistan

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Tajikistan, Citizen Media, Ethnicity & Race, Law

Following a controversial assertion [1] by Tajikistan's Prosecutor General, senior officials in the country continue claiming that citizens whose surnames end in “-ov” or “-ev” are not patriots. Speaking to journalists today, Gavhar Sharofzoda, the head of the Tajikistan Language and Terminology Committee, said [2] [ru], “Getting rid of Russian endings in surnames is a national duty of every citizen of Tajikistan”.

Kharsavor responded [3] [ru] in his blog:

“National duty”? What kind of “national” duty? When will our ignorant officials finally realize that only the constitution can define what a “national” duty is? Serving in the army is, for example, a duty for guys. While a decision regarding how to write one's surname is something private.

When will they finally understand that Tajikistan is home to people from different [ethnic backgrounds]? I am an Uzbek, for example, and every fifth person here is an Uzbek. There are also Pamiris, Russians, Kyrgyz. Why in the world do officials define for us which surnames are “national” or “patriotic”? They have already renamed all villages and streets [4]. Do they now want to do the same to people?

As with previous similar statements [5], Sharofzoda's comments have also triggered a wave of angry reactions on Facebook.