Z Kaliningradu na Кёнигсберг – zapotrzebowanie społeczne czy marzenie nielicznych? Społeczna inicjatywa zmiany nazwy miasta
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Kaliningrad into Кёнигсберг – a social need or a dream of a few? Societal initiative for a change of the city’s name
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Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation has been subject to manifold social processes due to is specific history, geographic conditions and other factors. Some of the former resulted in rejecting numerous elements of the Soviet past by a part of the local population. This included the very name of Kaliningrad, as a tribute paid to Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin who has been considered one of the state and party officials responsible for mass purges in the 1930s and 1940s. The purpose of the article is to analyse the initiative put forward by a group of social activists to change the name ‘Kaliningrad’ into ‘Кёнигсберг’ (Königsberg), that is to return to the pre-war name of the city. As authors of the petition refer to previous attempts of changing the name and use them as an important part of their reasoning, the history of the notion has also been outlined with emphasis on the December 1988 discussion noted by Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev, then a Communist Party official. In the article, a brief introduction of the petition is followed by main arguments used by its supporters and the discussion which the document triggered among the local administration and in the media, in particular the Internet. The discussion concentrated on two aspects of the petition. First, controversies around procedural handling of the petition by Kaliningrad Duma. Secondly, fierce debates about phrases used in the document and their political significance in the context of the contemporary identity of Kaliningrad Oblast. Results of the debate and the impact the petition had on broader public opinion, both in Kaliningrad Oblast and the whole of Russia, turned out to be meagre. Only 400 signatures were collected across the country to support the idea. No decisive measures were taken on the administrative level such as moving the initiative toward a referendum. No agreement was reached between those who wish to turn the whole notion down and those who would like to postpone the final decision to a more distant future. In conclusion, it is worth noting that despite the obvious failure of the petition the discussion showed considerable social activity in Kaliningrad Oblast, especially on the part of the younger generation. This was reflected by a number of threads and posts in electronic media, many of which served as a basis for a constructive debate with relatively few irrelevant (insulting, aggressive and vulgar) arguments. On the other hand, the article shows that there is still considerable nostalgia for the Soviet Union and its artifacts in Kaliningrad Oblast.
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