Stalingrad Could Exist Once More

Volgograd, one of Russia's biggest cities, has undergone several name changes

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 9, 2014 8:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The city today called Volgograd, which with 1 million people is one of Russia's largest, has gone through several name changes in its recent past. For more than 300 years it carried on with the name Tsaritsyn, but after it became home to one of history's deadliest battles—2 million lives were lost when the Nazis tried to advance into the Soviet Union during World War II—then-Soviet leader Joseph Stalin decided to name it after himself. That lasted 26 years, at which point Stalin's successor, Nikita Khruschev, renamed the city Volgograd in an attempt to diminish the former dictator's posthumous reach. As if the saga wasn't confusing enough, as of last year the city began changing its name to Stalingrad some six times a year, the Moscow Times points out. Now, a 365-day change could be in reach.

In response to an inquiry from a WWII vet on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a referendum be held over the question of the city's name. The Guardian reports he promised to help the city see such a referendum take place, but RT notes that his press secretary today insisted that Putin wasn't coming out in support of the former name, but establishing that there's a "procedure" for arriving at such a decision. Only problem is, the locals don't appear to want the name change, at least according to a poll cited by the Guardian that found roughly 75% against it. (A town in Spain recently voted to change its offensive name.)

Russian soldiers patrol the Battle of Stalingrad memorial in Volgograd, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Russian authorities ordered police to beef up security at train stations and other facilities across the country after a suicide bomber killed 14 people on a bus Monday in the southern city of Volgograd.
Russian soldiers patrol the Battle of Stalingrad memorial in Volgograd, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Russian authorities ordered police to beef up security at train stations and other facilities across...   (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)
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