Kazakhstan to Restore Capital’s Old Name

    Photo: independent

    The Facts

    • Kazakhstan's Pres. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has agreed to restore the former name of the country's capital to "Astana" after he renamed it "Nur-Sultan" in honor of his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev three years ago.

    • The capital was named "Akmolinsk" by imperial Russian settlers, "Tselinograd" in the early 1960s, "Akmola" after Kazakhstan's independence, and "Astana" (meaning "capital") a year later in 1998.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    The name "Nur-Sultan" lacked popular appeal, and while Nazarbaev enjoyed genuine popularity during his time as president, the change back to "Astana" is a gesture toward Kazakstan's citizens. Given the recent riots, demands for reform, and constitutional changes, this is a welcome change.

    Narrative B

    This change is mostly cosmetic. While Nazarbayev has fallen from grace with extreme speed, Kazakhstan is still led by the former leader's cronies and relatives. Despite the name change of the country's capital, it is unlikely that the power structure of this Central Asian nation will change significantly.

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