Kyrgyz is the state language of Kyrgyzstan. Russian is additionally an official language. Kyrgyzstan is one of four former Soviet republics to have Russian as an official language, along with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. After the division of the Soviet Union into countries, Kyrgyz was adopted as the “state language” of Kyrgyzstan in 1991. Kyrgyzstan adopted Russian as an “official language” in 1997. The languages have different legal status.
Kyrgyz is a Turkic language of the Kipchak branch, closely related to Kazakh, Karakalpak, and Nogay Tatar. It was written in the Arabic alphabet until the twentieth century. Latin script was introduced and adopted in 1928, and was subsequently replaced on Stalin’s orders by Cyrillic script in 1941.
In 2009, 4.1 million people spoke Kyrgyz as native or second language and 2.5 million spoke Russian as native or second language. Uzbek is the second most common native language with 700,000 native speakers.
Many business and political affairs are carried out in Russian. Until recently, Kyrgyz remained a language spoken at home and was rarely used during meetings or other events. However, most parliamentary meetings today are conducted in Kyrgyz, with simultaneous interpretation available for those not speaking Kyrgyz.