Kiev (AFP) – It was only a minor tweak in the spelling but a historic change when a Ukrainian village on Wednesday renamed a street, which honoured Soviet founder Lenin, after The Beatles’ John Lennon.
Large swathes of Ukraine have been erasing remnants of their totalitarian past since the February 2014 ouster of the ex-Soviet republic’s Russian-backed president.
An April 2015 law banning public displays of communist symbols has outraged Russia as Ukraine, with no wish to go back to the USSR, rushes to rename cities and streets.
Perhaps no name change is more symbolic than the one made in Kalyny — a western Ukrainian village of about 5,000 people that rests just 19 kilometres (12 miles) from the European Union’s eastern border.
Regional Governor Gennadiy Moskal said he had made the decision “at my own discretion” to change Lenin Street to Lennon Street, in honour of the Beatles co-founder and peacenik who was shot dead outside his New York apartment building in 1980.
“A massive number of pro-communist streets have still not been renamed by the local authorities, even though the de-communisation law gave them six months to do so,” Moskal said in a statement published on the region’s official website.
Moskal said he had also personally ordered another street to be named after former Czechoslovakia’s late president Tomas Masaryk.
Ukrainians largely respect Masaryk for promoting the rights of their ethnic minority in Czechoslovakia — now split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia — after World War I.
Moskal’s region was part of Czechoslovakia during Masaryk’s rule.
The governor also made other name changes and said more were on their way.