Staunton, November 17 – A millennium ago, Erik the Red decided to call the icy island he had found Greenland in the hopes that such a name would attract more settlers. Now, Russian Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has called for renaming the Russian Far East so that it won’t seem so far away from Moscow.
Erik the Red’s ploy didn’t work – few Europeans ever moved to Greenland -- and Rogozin’s is unlikely to. But Rogozin’s suggestion may have two unintended consequences. On the one hand, it may spark more demands for shifting the Russian capital away from Moscow. And on the other, it may add official legitimacy to regionalist groups in various parts of Russia.
Speaking at the TechnoProm 2013 forum in Novosibirsk on Friday, Rogzin said “I don’t understand what the ‘Far East’ means. How does a citizen of Vladivostok put it that he lives in the Far East of Russia? But why on earth is it a ‘far’ east for him?” (siberiantimes.com/business/opinion/news/rename-the-far-east-of-russia-says-vice-premier-dmitry-rogozin/).
“We should be naming this part of Russia differently – the Pacific region or in another way. In the beginning as the word, and the boat will sail in the direction the name you give it suggests.” Rogozin added in a Tweet that “the issue is not in the formal renaming but in our attitude and attention to this very promising part of Russia.”In reporting his words, the “Siberian Times” newspaper said Rogozin’s statement “is likely to stoke an interesting debate about regional identities,” a prediction that is already being confirmed by comments attached to its article and by a survey of opinion offered by the IAREX.ru news agency (iarex.ru/interviews/43221.html