Sunday, September 6, 2020

‘Better Lenin than Black Lives Matter’ -- Why Russian Government Offices Keep Soviet Addresses

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 4 – Many things have changed since Soviet times, Dmitry Smirnov says; but one thing that hasn’t are the names of the streets on which the offices of the governments of the federal subjects. They remain unchanged from Soviet times. In fact, one in every four of these offices is on Lenin Street.

            Four more are located on Soviet Street, three on Communist Street, and two on October Avenue, the Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist reports, with others located on Pioneer Street, International Street, 60th Anniversary of the USSR Street, Dzerzhinsky Street, Kirov Street and Karl Marx Street (

            There have been a few changes: The regional governments in North Ossetia and Tatarstan now sit on Freedom Square, the government of Chukotka is on Bering Street. And the Chechen administrative headquarters is on Putin Avenue. But even where the name has been changed, people often continue to refer to the old Soviet-era names.

            Smirnov spoke with two governors, Ryazan’s Nikolay Lyubimov and Vladimir’s Vladimir Sinyagin. Both said they thought maintaining the Soviet-era names was appropriate as part of Russian history and the absence of demands for change as a sign that the country is psychologically “healthy.”

            “In order to rename a street,” Smirnov says, there must be a serious public outcry, something like in Ukraine” or the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. “Better Lenin on the square than BLM activists” in the streets or Ukrainian radicals in power, the Moscow journalist says.

            The journalist appends to his article a listing of the 22 regions whose government offices are on Lenin Avenue as well as the 22 others which retain Soviet-era street names in front of them. 

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