‘Remember Byzantium’: St Pete lawmaker calls for Istanbul to be renamed Constantinople
St Petersburg city lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, known as the main sponsor of the Russian law banning gay propaganda to minors, has proposed that the Turkish city of Istanbul be renamed Constantinople on all Russian maps and in state-approved textbooks.
In a letter to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Milonov called the renaming “the return of Istanbul’s historical name,” adding that the name Constantinople was used in Tsarist Russia.
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“Many residents of our country still connect the city of Istanbul only with the history of Byzantium. Before the Bolshevik revolution, this city was not named other than Constantinople in our country. Today, many Orthodox Christian nations, for example, Greece, maintain this tradition,” Milonov wrote in his letter as quoted by RIA Novosti.
“The return of the city’s historical name would symbolize that our country and our people keep the tragic fate of Byzantium in its memory,” Milonov wrote. “We do not reject the modern name but also keep our right for historical justice even though it is contained in the form of a symbol.”
The name Constantinople was officially used by all countries, including the Ottoman Empire, for Istanbul until 1930. It was only officially changed after Turkey declared itself a republic.
Milonov is a veteran of Russian politics but he gained nationwide and international fame as the main sponsor of the 2013 nationwide legislative ban on gay propaganda to minors. Over the past few years he has continued to dwell on the topic, proposing many more restrictions, such as an entry ban on the openly gay CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, and fines for walking topless in public. His other initiatives have included a bill outlawing child beauty pageants, the forced resettlement of homeless people to rural areas, a campaign against fake accounts in social networks, and many more.
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In September 2015, Milonov announced that he was launching an international human rights association “Volunteers of Freedom” with the target of redressing the balance in favor of traditional values.