Staunton, November 3 – Russian cities and villages still have more than 10,000 streets named for Lenin, 27 for Stalin (mostly in the North Caucasus), and hundreds more which bear the names of Bolshevik state terrorists and senior officials responsible for the GULAG, Danil Petrov of the Return Foundation says.
Many Russians favor getting rid of these names either because as liberals, they are offended by such names as honoring the communist past, or because as conservatives and even monarchists, they feel that the Bolshevik period should not be allowed to predominate over a thousand years of Russian history (rusk.ru/st.php?idar=88422).
There is thus a sizeable constituency both in the population and among the expert community for restoring pre-Soviet names where the communists replaced older ones although most people are prepared to live with Soviet names given to streets build between 1917 and 1991 unless the individual involved was especially heinous.
Unfortunately, Petrov says, officials are dragging their feet; and his group, which has existed since 2008, has not made the progress its members had hoped for. According to the activist, there are three reasons besides a misplaces concern about how much it costs to change names – in fact very little, street signs run about 1050 rubles (14 US dollars) each why so little has been done:
First of all, he suggests, “bureaucrats really fear the socially active part of society which believes in communist ideals and aggressively acts against any changes connected with memories of the USSR.” Second, many officials are “insufficiently educated” and don’t understand what is at stake. And third, “many senior bureaucrats are publicly nostalgic about the Soviet period, and this is an important signal.”
“Even provincial patriots and regional specialists,” the activist says, “are afraid of showing a lack of respect to the explicit expression of the sympathies of the leadership.”
Appended to this article is a table listing a large number of Soviet heroes who are still memorialized at the street level including data on just how many streets are named for each.