On December 20, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament adopted a bill on changing the national flag in the second and third readings. After the vote, one of the two initiators and the Speaker of the parliament, Nurlanbek Shakiyev, congratulated the deputies for “correcting the flag,” stating that they would “go down in history as the parliament that corrected the flag” and eventually acquire “legendary” status.
Here is an Instagram post with the original flag.
Here is an Instagram with the proposed new flag.
The only thing standing in the way of the new flag is the president’s signature under the bill. There are no doubts that the country’s president Sadyr Japarov will put the finishing touch, since he advocated for the change and recently admitted coming up with the idea to change the flag in the first place. Speaking at the second People’s Kurultai held on December 15 and 16, Japarov requested the delegates to support the initiative and revealed that it was he who asked Shakiyev and deputy Ulan Primov to pass it in the parliament.
Here is a YouTube video with Japarov asking the Kurultai delegates to support the flag change.
Kyrgyzstan’s national flag was adopted on March 3, 1992, shortly after the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. A team of five people stood behind its design. At the flag’s center is a a golden tunduk, a wooden construct and top part of a yurt, through which light enters a dwelling. It symbolizes unity, friendship and homeland. Wavy sun rays around the tunduk denote the unification of 40 ancient tribes, which came together to form Kyrgyzstan. The golden color symbolizes wealth and stability, and the red background symbolizes victory, heroism and courage.
Undoubtedly, the flag change is poised to become Japarov’s least popular move. In the last 32 years of Kyrgyzstan’s independence, there have never been calls by the public to change it. It is fair to state that the original flag is beloved by Kyrgyzstani people, and this was evident by the number of posts on social media against changing it.
Here is an Instagram post by a famous Kyrgyz travel blogger, expressing his stance against changing the flag.
Here is an Instagram post with what ordinary people think about changing the flag.
They are not alone in their objections. Members of the first parliament that adopted the flag in 1992 spoke against the initiative. One of the designers of the original flag, Bekbosyn Jaichybekov, also spoke against it, saying that the new version “is the worst out of all possible options” referring to the decision to change the wavy rays to pointy.
The president has provided eyebrow raising explanations for changing the flag, ranging from statements that the original flag is reminescent of a sunflower to blaming the flag for Kyrgyzstan’s political and economic troubles. According Japarov, with the new flag “it will be as if the sun is shining and smiling,” and Kyrgyzstan will finally turn into “a developed and independent country.”
Ever since coming to power in 2020 as the result of the protests following rigged parliamentary elections, Japarov has accumulated power in his own hands by changing the constitution. He justified these changes by stating that Kyrgyzstan needs a strong hand to restore order and bring prosperity. People in Kyrgyzstan have thus far experienced only the adverse effects of his strong hand, and changing the flag is the most glaring example of it.