- Title: Kazakhstan honours it’s first and only President Nazarbayev
- Date: 2nd December 2016
- Summary: TALDYKORGAN, KAZAKHSTAN (DECEMBER 1, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF NEWLY OPENED MONUMENT TO NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV
- Embargoed: 17th December 2016 13:57
- Keywords: Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev president Astana
- Location: ASTANA AND TALDYKORGAN, KAZAKHSTAN
- City: ASTANA AND TALDYKORGAN, KAZAKHSTAN
- Country: Kazakhstan
- Reuters ID: LVA0065B6Y7GN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Kazakhstan celebrated the Day of the First President of the Republic on Thursday (December 1), honouring the country's leader Nursultan Nazarbayev - the former steelworker turned Communist leader who retained power after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The 76-year-old Nazarbayev has several monuments featuring him across the country with one of them unveiled recently in the town of Taldykorgan, there are also prestigious local university and a network of schools named after him.
In November, Kazakhstan's parliament called for the capital to be renamed after Nursultan Nazarbayev, but the leader said there was no need to change the name of Astana crimping the growing personality cult.
Astana simply means "capital" in Kazakh and was given to the city in 1998 shortly after the government relocated there from Almaty, the country's biggest city and commercial hub.
"Any question - especially the one on re-naming of towns etc. - will be solved after consideration according to what is necessary for the state, for the country. This is not a real issue," Nazarbayev told his government.
The decision means the veteran leader has stopped just short of matching a personality cult benchmark set by the late leader of neighbouring Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, who had an industrial city named after him.
Astana residents told Reuters they did not want the name of the city changed.
"I believe that (the name) that has already been offered by Nazarbayev was thoroughly thought through. We got accustomed to it, it fits, it is a good name. Astana means capital, what else do we need? The capital is in the capital," Astana resident and University professor Vladimir Shevchenko said.
"I think that they have already added 'Nur' to too many words, like Nur Otan (Kazakhstan's ruling party headed by Nursultan Nazarbayev). I believe it won't be normal to rename Astana after the president," a student in Astana Nazira said.
Nazarbayev, named the Leader of the Nation by a special law which allows him to run for an unlimited number of terms, was granted a new honour when Kazakhstan's central bank placed his portrait on a bank note.
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