Poland Angers Russia With Name Change

Warsaw now refers to Kaliningrad as Królewiec
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2023 2:29 PM CDT
Poland Angers Russia With Name Change
Polish soldiers begin laying a razor wire barrier along Poland's border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in Wisztyniec, Poland, on Wednesday Nov. 2, 2022.   (AP Photo/Michal Kosc, File)

Poland has infuriated Russia by renaming the city of Kaliningrad and the surrounding Russian exclave in official documents. A Polish government body said Kaliningrad should be known as Królewiec, its name when it was under Polish rule before 1657, the BBC reports. The city was known as Koenigsberg—Królewiec in Polish—for centuries when it was part of East Prussia, but it was renamed after Soviet politician Mikhail Kalinin when it became part of the Soviet Union after World War II. In 1940, Kalinin signed a command to execute more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war.

The Polish committee on the standardization of political names outside the country said the Kaliningrad name had an "emotional and negative" connection for Poles. "The current Russian name of this city is an artificial baptism unrelated to either the city or the region," the committee said, per Reuters. The committee said Russia's invasion of Ukraine had sparked an effort to take a fresh look at "imposed names."

Russia denounced the move as a "hostile act" that "bordered on madness." "We know that throughout history, Poland has slipped from time to time into this madness of hatred towards Russians," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday. The exclave, which is around the size of Connecticut, is part of Russia but was left isolated by the fall of the Soviet Union. (Poland has installed razor wire along its border with the exclave and is installing a state-of-the-art electronic barrier; the exclave is between Poland and Lithuania.)

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