Astana prepares to ditch Cyrillic alphabet in move to loosen ties with Moscow

Kazakhstan is to change its official alphabet for the third time in less than 100 years after President Nursultan Nazarbayev yesterday ordered officials to get ready for the switch from Cyrillic to Latin. The change is to be gradual and will take until 2025 to put into place.
It is a partly political and partly practical move; while Russia remains Kazakhstan’s  main trading partner (both were founding members of the Eurasian Economic Union) the oil-rich Central Asian state is nervous of Russia’s ambitions to maintain its political influence throughout the region, and the switch is intended to symbolise a loosening of ties between the former Soviet republic and Moscow.
It is also a response to the needs of modern technology. The Cyrillic alphabet has 42 symbols, making it cumbersome to use with digital devices, meaning that a standard Kazakh keyboard utilises almost all number keys in addition to letter and punctuation keys.
The new proposed Latin alphabet works around that by using apostrophe signs to modify letters. The country’s official name would therefore be spelled as Qazaqstan Respy’blikasy.
Although Kazakh has been the state language since the country gained its independence in 1991, Russian is in more widespread use, with 85% claiming fluency in the 2009 national census with 62% of the population also saying that they were fluent in both written and spoken Kazakh.
President Nazarbayev has previously been at pains to emphasise that the change will not affect the rights of the country’s Russian speakers.

Source: theguardian