19 Sep 2022 10:41

Kazakh capital renamed back to Astana

ASTANA. Sept 19 (Interfax) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed into law the constitutional amendments, which rename the Kazakh capital back to Astana.

This is the sixth time the city has been renamed.

The city, founded in 1830 as a Cossack settlement, was originally named Akmolinsk. It was renamed Tselinograd in 1961. The city was called Akmola between 1992 and 1998. At the initiative of then President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh capital was moved from Almaty to Akmola in December 1997. Akmola was renamed Astana (which means the capital in Kazakh) in May 1998.

The Kazakh capital was renamed Nur-Sultan in March 2019 at the initiative of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to honor First Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The Zhana Kazakhstan (New Kazakhstan) group of deputies proposed in early September 2022 that the former name, Astana, be returned to the capital.

Many deputies, who called for restoring the capital's former name, voted for renaming Astana to Nur-Sultan in 2019.

President Tokayev was informed about the initiative of the deputies, who explained it as stemming from requests from residents. Tokayev agreed to include the proposal of reinstating the former name of the Kazakh capital in the constitutional amendments.

According to the city maslihat (local representative body), the city budget paid about 30 million tenge for renaming the city in 2019 (the current exchange rate is 477.12 tenge to the dollar).

The local authorities expect the new name change to be cheaper, given the authorities' shift to the digital document workflow.

Nazarbayev, after whom the capital was named Nur-Sultan for several years, was in office for over 30 years until he announced his resignation in March 2019.