BISHKEK – Kyrgzystan’s parliament on Thursday voted to put Russia’s strongman prime minister on the map by giving his name to one of its mountain peaks.
A mountain measuring 4,446 metres (14,586 feet) in the country’s northern Tian Shan range will henceforth be known as the Peak of Vladimir Putin, after parliament endorsed the idea proposed by the government of the Central Asian state.
A government official told the parliament that Putin, who enjoys being photographed in rugged outdoor pursuits such as horse-riding and swimming in lakes, was keen to climb the peak.
Putin heard of the idea from his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev and joked that he ought to be the first to climb the newly named mountain, the government’s envoy to the parliament told lawmakers.
The initiative was backed by almost all the deputies in the recently elected coalition parliament.
“There’s nothing wrong with giving a mountain the name of Vladimir Putin. After all, we’re not giving him the whole mountain,” said lawmaker Narynbek Moldobayev.
Another lawmaker, Nurlan Sulaimanov, fretted that the diminutive Russian premier might be offended by the relatively small size of the peak, in a country where several mountains tower above 7,000 metres (22,965 feet).
“We should give the Russian politician’s name not to a 4,000-metre mountain but to a taller one,” he told the parliament.
“Otherwise Vladimir Vladimirovich might be offended that we did not value him highly enough.”
Only the country’s nationalist ATA Zhurt or Fatherland party, opposed the idea, arguing that the country’s mountains should only be named after Kyrgyz people.
“We all respect Vladimir Putin as a strong politician and Russia as a strategic partner, but we cannot give his name to a mountain,” said leader Kamchybek Tashiyev, suggesting it be named after novelist Chingiz Aitmatov.
Kyrgyzstan already has a mountain named after the first Russian president Boris Yeltsin, and analysts said the current leadership wanted to emphasize its closeness to Russia.
The Central Asian state was wracked by unrest in 2010 which saw the ousting of the president and ethnic rioting that left hundreds dead. The country recently elected a new coalition government led by Atambayev.