President warns Tajiks against 'scary names'

The president of Tajikistan on Thursday warned his compatriots against giving their children scary names, saying names drived from the words for wolf or war made him shudder.

President Emomali Rahmon urged parents to read through the traditional Persian epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) by Ferdowsi written a millenium ago to pick names for their children.

"Parents, leaf through historical works like Shahnameh or works by Tajik classics where you will find many adequate, good, beautiful names," he said.

"I pay close attention to surnames and names when I appoint anyone to a leading post in the government," Rahmon told a group of children in speech televised Thursday on the national TV.

"Sometimes, reading surnames can make one shudder," he said.

"For example, Gurgakov comes from the word 'wolf'. Janjoliyev derives from the word 'conflict'," said Rahmon, the father of seven daughters and two sons.

Names must be beautiful because they play an important role in determining a person's destiny from birth, he said.

"How can you name a person after a wolf?" asked Rahmon, who himself had changed his surname from Rahmonov as the ex-Soviet Tajikistan has been tries to distance itself from Moscow.

Tajikistan, a Persian-speaking nation of seven million that is the poorest state in ex-Soviet Central Asia, has sought to slacken Russian cultural influence since the collapse of the USSR in 1991 but still needs close economic ties.

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