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Ukrainian city of Kharkov “derussifies” its streets

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The art student Evgen Deviatka complains on the avenue “Heroes of Kharkivwhich until recently was called “Avenida de Moscow”, that all the streets of the second most populous city in Ukraine stripped of references to the aggressor country.

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This big northeastern city has already changed three street names and toppled a statue of Alexander NevskyRussian medieval hero celebrated for his military victories.

About 200 names of the current toponymy are in the spotlight.

Located close to the border, Kharkiv was under attack from the first hours of the Russian invasion on February 24 and suffered weeks of shelling before Ukrainian troops regained ground.

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But the city, which had about 1.4 million inhabitants before the war, remains under threat.

“Names are associated with a nation, a country. What does this country do? We have seen what it does. +Out+ everything that is Russian”, launches Larisa Vasilchenko, a 59-year-old engineer.

“The Russians attack us and kill our citizens. They hurt us and humiliate us”underlines the soldier mikita gavrilenkostanding before the pedestal on which the statue of Alexander Nevskyripped off by a truck.

For Yuri Sidorenkohead of Kharkov communications, “The time has come and Russian place names on squares, streets or towns will no longer appear on the city map.”

But everything is not as simple as it seems and the city council does not want to get ahead of itself. “There are many names at stake, I cannot say how many because the authorities must discuss them and they must be debated publicly”Sidorenko explains.

Although the modification of names such as Avenida and/or Plaza Moscow, or Avenida Belgorod – the Russian city from which the attack of February 24 came – are “obvious”other streets are named after Russian artists or writers from the past, which have nothing to do with recent or Soviet history.

Moscow Avenue changes to Heroes of Kharkiv

“An entire Russian imperialist culture must be changed. They imposed on us their culture, their writers, everything…”assures a passer-by, who refuses to say his name.

He explains that he has nothing against Alexander Pushkinthe legendary Russian poet.

In this “Pushkin Street” now features graffiti by Ukrainian street art artist Gamlet, who renamed it “British Street”because Britain he is currently one of Ukraine’s biggest supporters in its war against Russia.

On Moscow Avenue, the inhabitants had preceded the town hall and had put up a sign with the name “Grigori Skovoroda Avenue”Ukrainian philosopher of the 18th century.

The Google Maps geolocation application has already changed the identification of the former Moscow Avenue for “Heroes of Kharkiv”.

“I like the name. I have been saying for a long time that those names have to be changed”comments Yulia Butenko, craftswoman.

But things quickly get complicated. Nicholas Gogol19th century writer and claimed by both countries, “wrote about Ukraine but in Russian”recognize.

The same goes for the much appreciated Soviet author Mikhail Bulgakovborn in kyiv and died in Moscow.

As for the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, “It did nothing against Ukraine but it is a symbol of Russian culture”while the writer Ostap Vichnia was Ukrainian “but pro-Soviet!”Julia fulminates. “I am worried about Pushkin Street. I like Pushkin. Everything is ambiguous”stands out.

Source: Gestion

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