Back to the USSR? Vladimir Putin proposes referendum to revive Stalingrad

The city was named Stalingrad in honour of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and later changed to Volgograd under Nikita Khrushchev

Maria Tadeo
Monday 09 June 2014 17:23
Comments

President Vladimir Putin has suggested holding a referendum to rename the Russian city of Volgograd to Stalingrad.

Mr Putin made the statement on Friday during a meeting with Russian war veterans in Normandy, where he attended D-Day commemorations celebrating the Allied victory against Nazi Germany.

"We will do as the residents say," the Itar-Tass reported on Friday as Mr Putin joined world leaders to pay their respect to the soldiers who fell in combat.

Until 1925, the city, which is home to more than one million people and is one of Russia's largest industrial centres, was known as Tsaritsyn. The name was later changed to Stalingrad, in honour of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, until 1961 when the Khrushchev administration renamed it Volgograd under its de-Stalinisation program.

Today, Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that the Russian leader does not have a preference and was simply responding to a question. According to Mr Peskov, the Russian president understands this is an issue that "concerns an entire generation" of veterans and he cannot a decision like that "on his own".

"When answering the question of veterans in Normandy, Putin noted that this was not among his prerogatives - to decide on renaming a city or a town," he told Russian News Service (RSN), adding that mainstream media misrepresented the situation.

Soviet troops climb out of a trench during the Battle of Stalingrad

However, high-profile Russian figures were quick to throw their support behind the proposal. On Saturday, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's outspoken Deputy Prime Minister, called for the name to be restored, tweeting: "I never doubted the need to give back great Stalingrad its name. Not for the sake of Stalin, but for the sake of the Stalingraders."

Russian Orthodox church spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin, also expressed his support to revive its wartime name of Stalingrad.

"The word Stalingrad already has a life of its own, independent of the name Stalin. It's associated with the victory in a famous battle, with a certain part of our history," news agency Interfax reported.

The Battle of Stalingrad, the Nazi offensive against the Red Army, was one of the most brutal episodes in the Second World War. Both sides committed atrocities and soldiers and civilians endured freezing conditions and starvation during a lengthy siege. At least 1.2 million are estimated to have died before the German surrender on 2 February 1943.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in