Kyrgyzstan: How will the new law on the state languague affect citizens?


On December 13 the Kyrgyz parliament adopted amendments to the law “On the State Language” on the first reading. Most changes affect state employees directly, but there are those that can cover almost any citizen.’s editorial team reviewed the proposed changes, and broke them down into two main categories – those that affect all citizens, and those that only affect civil servants.

How will the new law affect ordinary citizens?

1. Reports and financial documents must be prepared in Kyrgyz

Currently, all enterprises, institutions or organizations in Kyrgyzstan may submit reports to government bodies, including financial records, in either Kyrgyz or Russian.

If the new amendments are confirmed at the law’s third hearing – all laws passed by the parliament must undergo three hearings – these documents will have to be submitted in Kyrgyz and only translated into Russian “if necessary”.

2. Scientific, technical and design documents must be produced in Kyrgyz only

All enterprises, institutions and organizations connected to state agencies making scientific and technical design documents, only produce documents in Kyrgyz, according to the current law. if the amendments enter force, these documents will need to be made in Kyrgyz.

3. Obligatory simultaneous translation into Russian will not be required at government events

Interpreters at government events will no longer be required.

State events, which by law include “congresses, sessions, conferences, meetings, negotiations and other activities”, conducted by government agencies, must be subjected to oral translations into Russian under current legislation. The new law does not necessitate Russian translation.

4.Documents cannot be issued to citizens in Russian alone

Today, state agencies may issue documents to citizens in Kyrgyz or “in necessary circumstances” in Russian. The new version of the law will see documents issued only in Kyrgyz, while Russian can be issued only as a translation of a document that already exists in Kyrgyz.

How will the new law will affect civil servants?

Civil servants’ life after the amendments enter force may change significantly, if they do not know Kyrgyz.

1. Fines for not knowing Kyrgyz

There are currently no penalties proscribed in the law “On the State Language”, for not knowing Kyrgyz.

In the new version, individuals and organizations can be fined from ten to twenty “legal units” (individuals) or 100-200 (registered organizations).

Despite the fact that the text features the words “individual” and “registered organization”, so far, the penalties apply only to “non-fulfillment of the law by public authorities.”

One “salaried unit” today is equal to 100 soms.

2. Laws are developed only in Kyrgyz

Civil servants will be severely tested on their knowledge of the Kyrgyz languague.

In the current version of the legislation “On the State Languague”, a law can be developed in Russian, and then translated into Kyrgyz. The new version of the law “On the State Language” says that laws should now only be developed in Kyrgyz.

3. Necessity of knowing Kyrgyz to affect more public officials

The current number of officials who must know Kyrgyz is limited to the President, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice and the Chairman of the Constitutional Chamber.

Amendments in the law would see all members of the government and state secretaries required to know the law.

Moreover, strict criteria are applied for knowledge of Kyrgyz. The officials mentioned must be able to read, write, express their thoughts and speak publicly in the state language.

Other state employees must know the state language to the extent “necessary for the performance of their official duties.” This rule is in the current version of the law, but …

4. Examinations in Kyrgyz for all state employees

All civil servants – if the law comes into force – will be required to pass examinations in Kyrgyz.

Author: Bektour Iskender

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