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Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of newspeak: Kyrgyzstan

During the times of the Soviet Union, the names of some countries differed from the names we are used to today. For example, the current country of Moldova is then “Moldavia”, Belarus is “Belarussia”, and Kyrgyzstan is “Kyrgyzia”. Allegedly, out of habit, the former names of these countries continue to be used in the Russian media space. Kyrgyz people consider it an insult to their national dignity and sovereignty that after more than 30 years of independence, their country is still called “Kyrgyzia”, since its official name is now the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan).

In the first half of 2023, a creative team of web designers from Kyrgyzstan developed a browser extension that crosses out the country's former colonial name with a red line and shows the official one. Considering that Kyrgyzstan has been independent for several decades, the team members decided to raise an issue that concerns many of its citizens and separate the Soviet past from the country's present and future.

Russia considers the Kyrgyz Republic, like the rest of the countries that were once part of the USSR, to be its “zone of influence”, that is, a territory where it can dictate its own conditions. It is worth noting that in Soviet times, the Kyrgyz were not spared the constant repression and leveling of identity. Terms like Kyrgyzstan are already outdated and are used only in Russia, in particular in the media, to emphasize the imaginary belonging of these territories to Russia. This is one way of cultivating nostalgia for the Soviet Union, as the older generation hears familiar phrases.

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