BLAGOVESHCHENSK, December 22 (RIA Novosti) – The decision about what a city should be called must be made by its residents, not politicians in Moscow, Russia’s parliamentary speaker Sergei Naryshkin said on Saturday.
“I have great respect for history, for historical memory. I think we should remember Stalingrad, the Battle of Stalingrad, and the great achievements of our fellow countrymen – who fought in the Red Army, the Soviet Army, and who in this battle changed the course of the war,” Naryshkin said.
Some Volgograd residents have been pushing for the city to be renamed ahead of February’s 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. So far a petition calling for the city to be renamed has gathered about 50,000 signatures.
“This is not a question for the State Duma, but for the residents of Volgograd. They must decide,” Naryshkin added – stressing that, in Russia, cities can be renamed in a local referendum.
Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd in 1961, as part of the Soviet Union's de-Stalinization process; before 1925 it had been known as Tsaritsyn.