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Nowhere Man: Ukrainians Swap Lenin For Lennon


Trading Lenin for Lennon
Trading Lenin for Lennon

Imagine all the people, living for today. And ditching their Soviet past.

The 6,000 residents of Kalyny, in western Ukraine, hope to do just that. They have renamed Vladimir Lenin Street after the late Beatle John Lennon.

Hennadiy Moskal, head of the Zakarpattia state administration, signed a decree renaming a total of 10 streets in the oblast, citing the so-called decommunization laws that have been enacted amid an effort to further spurn an era and imagery that Kyiv fears Moscow is using to promote self-serving myths while seizing territory and orchestrating unrest in neighboring Ukraine.

Moskal announced the move on March 2, saying local authorities and residents had failed to comply in time with legal obligations to rename streets and landmarks bearing Soviet names. Local communities proposed some of the new titles, Moskal said, while he chose others himself -- Lennon Street, for instance.

Other renamed streets announced by Moskal include one named after a fallen Ukrainian serviceman (Artem Markus), another dedicated to 20th-century Ukrainian political activist Edmund Bachynskyy, and one named after founding Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.

His announcement called the decree "the first of its kind not just in Zakarpattia but in the whole of Ukraine."

Moskal may be a dreamer, but he's not the only one.

The Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance has reportedly proposed renaming Moscow Avenue in the capital, Kyiv, after controversial Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera.

The so-called decommunization of Ukraine edged forward on February 4 as parliament approved scrapping the names of 175 towns, villages, and districts across the country and replacing them with non-Soviet alternatives.

Many Ukrainians oppose the renaming, arguing that not everything that's part of the country's Soviet legacy should be destroyed or forgotten.

But the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, Volodymyr Vyatrovych, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service recently that "thanks to decommunization, for the first time in 25 years of Ukrainian independence, society has gotten a chance to discuss its past. To understand what was good and what was bad."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a package of decommunization laws in May, ordering the removal of all communist monuments not related to World War II and renaming public places and landmarks bearing Soviet names.

About This Blog

Using regional media and the reporting of Current Time TV's wide network of correspondents, Anna Shamanska will tell stories about people and society you are unlikely to read anywhere else.

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