Volgograd or Stalingrad – Волгоград или Сталинград

Should the southern Russian city known today as Volgograd be returned to it’s Soviet era name of Stalingrad? Originally named as Tsaritsyn (Царыцын) when the area was established in the mid 1500s, Tsaritsyn was named for the Tsaritsa River which met the mighty Volga River nearby. Readers will recognize the term “Tsar” in the original name and it wasn’t until 1925 when the city was renamed as Stalingrad for the supposed accomplishments (exaggerated) of Josef Stalin in defending Tsaritsyn during the Russian Civil War.

Царыцын (Tsaritsyn) is highlighted at the annual city day celebration.
Царыцын (Tsaritsyn) is highlighted at the annual city day celebration.

The recent celebration of the 70th anniversary of victory over the invading Nazi army in the Battle of Stalingrad has reawakened an internal debate inside Russia, asking the question of whether the city should be called Волгоград или Сталинград, Volgograd or Stalingrad?

City light show on Volgograd  Hotel displays Stalingrad, Сталинград.
City light show on Volgograd Hotel displays Stalingrad, Сталинград.

In recent years Russian authorities have said that the city of Volgograd could regain its wartime name but for now only for six days a year when celebrating wartime victory events. However lawmakers in Russia’s Parliament have indicated that a nationwide referendum could be organized to rename the city permanently. Russia Today television has reported that Vladimir Churov, Russia’s Central Election Commission Chief, is ready to organize a vote if instructed to do so by lawmakers.

Newspapers and websites across the country are asking readers to respond in straw poll fashion and so far the trend seems to be widely in favour of changing the name back to Stalingrad, but such polls are neither scientific nor are the results an indication that the country is slipping back toward a more Soviet model.

This newspaper poll shows the name change idea clearly leads those who oppose.
This newspaper poll shows the name change idea clearly leads those who oppose.

Not everyone is in favour of the idea and some fear it will signal that Russia is seeking to reclaim her Soviet past. Others don’t think a change necessary and would just like to leave things as they are without changing the city’s name, yet again.

Caption: "I Love Volgograd."
Caption reads: “I Love Volgograd.”

If you are a Russian citizen, have an opinion on the matter and would like to participate in the poll here is a link: http://www.nr2.ru/moskow/325874.html