TASHKENT -- Authorities in the Uzbek capital have begun renaming some 150 streets and residential areas to deemphasize the city's Soviet heritage, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.
The Tashkent city's toponymic commission stated that its decision to rename streets in 10 of the city's 11 districts is aimed at "simplification, elimination of duplication, and a return of old historical names."
In some cases, streets named after Uzbek scientists and professors who were renowned during the Soviet era were changed to numbers instead. And Aleksei Tolstoy Street, named after the famous Russian writer, was changed into Oloy, the name of a nearby outdoor food market.
The street named after Shoakhmed Shamakhmudov -- an Uzbek blacksmith who adopted 15 orphans of various nationalities during World War II -- was restored to its historical name Toshkucha, which means "stone street."
The residential area known as "40 Years of Victory" was renamed Tuzel (flat area).
Marat Zahidov, chairman of the Individual Rights Committee (IRC), told RFE/RL that the street named in 1983 after his father, Tesha Zakhidov -- one of the first zoologists to write in Uzbek and an author of the zoological encyclopedia -- was renamed Yunusota.
Zahidov said he does not understand the reason for changing the name of his father's street and thinks it might be connected to his activity with the IRC, his human rights organization.
The renaming of streets in Uzbekistan has proceeded in waves, but began in 1991 as part of a de-Russification policy by the Uzbek government.
In November, all the monuments that formed part of the 1973 Park of Military Glory in Tashkent -- including the monument to Soviet soldiers and samples of Soviet planes, rockets, tanks, and other weapons -- were removed.
The same week the Aleksandr Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church -- built in Tashkent by renowned St. Petersburg architect Aleksei Benua in 1898 -- was also demolished by Uzbek officials.