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30 Jul, 2021 10:13

Back to Stalingrad? Disputed poll claims TWO THIRDS of Russians want Volgograd to return to name used during legendary WW2 battle

Back to Stalingrad? Disputed poll claims TWO THIRDS of Russians want Volgograd to return to name used during legendary WW2 battle

A majority of Russians support restoring the name of the country’s twelfth-largest city back to ‘Stalingrad,’ 60 years after it was renamed Volgograd in the Soviet program of de-Stalinization, a controversial poll has revealed.

The survey, commissioned by the center-left political party ‘A Fair Russia’ and made public on Thursday, revealed that 68% of Russians are in favor of returning to the title it bore from 1925 to 1961, with just 28% wanting to keep the current name.

Interestingly, in Volgograd itself, the poll discovered that local residents are less supportive of the name change, with less than half (48%) backing a return to Stalingrad.

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For over 300 years, until 1925, the city now known as Volgograd was called Tsaritsyn, named after the River Tsaritsa. Then, following the Russian Civil War, it was renamed in honor of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The city is most famous worldwide for its role during the Second World War and the bloody Battle of Stalingrad, which left approximately two million people dead. In 1961, eight years after Stalin’s death, new leader Nikita Khrushchev renamed the city Volgograd, after the River Volga. It has been called the same ever since.

The results have caused some controversy in the Russian political sphere, with A Fair Russia being accused of using the poll to boost the party’s profile ahead of fall’s parliamentary elections. The group has received criticism from all sides, with sociologist Denis Volkov calling it a PR stunt. Another polling expert, WCIOM’s general director Valery Federov, said the survey is simply a populist political technique to increase support in the run-up to voting. The last time Federov’s pollsters conducted a study on this topic was in 2005, and just 23.4% said they supported a renaming.

However, most interestingly, the faction is now coming under attack from the Communist Party (CPRF), which has accused A Fair Russia of stealing one of its flagship proposals. Speaking to Moscow daily Kommersant, Communist  Party Secretary for Elections Sergey Obukhov accused right-wing forces of using his party’s ideas to draw away voters. In 2013, on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, the CPRF collected more than 100,000 signatures in favor of renaming. 

Reverting to Stalingrad has also, historically, been pushed by the country’s far-right LDPR group, with leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky personally backing the idea.

Earlier in the week, A Fair Russia’s co-chairman Zakhar Prilepin revealed that the party is planning to officially propose renaming the city in the national parliament after the elections are complete. According to Prilepin, Russia needs a symbolic return of the most important and iconic concepts of the Soviet era.

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