Kazakhstan officially renames its capital as ‘Nursultan’
Kazakhstan has officially renamed its capital Astana to Nursultan to honour outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev who stepped down as President after three decades in office. The change was announced after Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn-in as president. He will serve for the remainder of the presidential term which expires in April 2020. Mr. Nazarbayev ruled Kazakhstan since before it gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. He steered the country through a major transformation, developing huge energy reserves and boosting its international influence, but was accused of cracking down on dissent and tolerating little opposition. Mr. Nazarbayev will continue to enjoy significant powers thanks to his Constitutional status as “Leader of the Nation”, life-time position as chief of the security council and head of the ruling Nur Otan party. Astana was previously known as Akmola, Tselinograd and Akmolinsk.