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Odesa City Council proposes new names for streets named after Russian figures

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 4, 2024 6:25 PM 2 min read
A soldier in camouflage and with a machine gun on guard duty during preparations for the demolition of the monument to Russian empress Catherine II in Odesa on Dec. 28, 2022. (Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Odesa City Council's historical and toponymic commission has proposed renaming three streets and one square in the historic center named after Russian historical figures, the council announced on April 4.

The commission recommended that Catherine Square and Catherine Street, named after Russian Empress Catherine II, should be renamed. The commission proposed European Square and European Street as the new names.

The statue of Catherine II that stood in the middle of the square was dismantled in December 2022 following a vote by Odesa residents.

Shortly after coming to power, Catherine II banned teaching in the Ukrainian language at the most prominent center of Ukrainian culture, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

The Empress later made the Russian language compulsory for all schools, ordered churches to conduct services only in Russian, and banned the publishing of books in Ukrainian.

The commission also proposed that Zhukovsky Street, named after the Russian poet Vasily Zhukovsky, should be renamed Lesia Ukrainka Street, after the Ukrainian poet.

The commission recommended that Bunin Street, named after the Russian writer Ivan Bunin, be given back its old name, Politseyska Street, after a nearby police station.

Ukraine's parliament outlawed most Soviet and communist symbols, street names, and monuments as part of a decommunization process in 2015.

Many cities, which had received new names under the Soviet authorities, were renamed to reflect their Ukrainian identity.

President Volodymyr Zelensky then signed a law in April 2023 that banned naming geographic sites in Ukraine after Russian figures or historical events in response to the Russian invasion.

Parliamentary committee backs renaming 7 cities and over 40 villages
Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development supported the renaming of seven more cities and 44 villages, whose names do not meet the standards of Ukrainian language or refer to Russian or Soviet names, lawmaker Roman Lozynskyi wrote on X on April 4.

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