End of the line for Lenin at Moscow station

12th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Leningrad Station, terminus of the line to Saint Petersburg, Russia's second city and itself called Leningrad under Communism, will be once more known as Nikolayevsky Station after Tsar Nicholas I.

Moscow -- Russia is removing the name of Lenin from one of Moscow's main railway stations, restoring that of a former emperor in place of the Communist revolutionary leader, an official said last week.

The Leningrad Station, terminus of the line to Saint Petersburg, Russia's second city and itself called Leningrad under Communism, will be once more known as Nikolayevsky Station after Tsar Nicholas I.

The president of Russian railways, Vladimir Yakunin, "signed the corresponding decree", his aide Aleksander Pirkov told the Interfax news agency.

"Now Leningrad Station has been returned to its historic name," he added.

The station in the heart of Moscow was named after Nicholas I when it opened in 1842 with the building of the railway to Saint Petersburg.

The name was changed to Leningrad Station in 1924 after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the leader of the 1917 revolution that ousted the Tsars, and remained even after the fall of Communism.

Oleg Orlov of the Memorial rights group welcomed the name change but said that Russia was still mired in confusion over its tumultuous history by commemorating Soviet officials associated with repression.

"Such steps are correct but they are isolated," he told Interfax.

"If we build a kind of post-democratic Russia -- where traditions of totalitarianism, the Tsarist regime, of democracy are merged -- we are going to have a mish-mash where it's hard to have political clarity," he added.

Nicholas I, who ruled from 1825-1855, is himself not a subject of universal adulation amongst historians for his reactionary and repressive inclinations. But he is still revered by many Russia for building up the Russian Empire.

The renaming of the station is a "tribute to the memory of Tsar Nicholas I who was the founder of rail transport in Russia," Great Princess Maria Vladimirovna, head of the Russian imperial house, told Interfax.

Top Communist party official and deputy parliament speaker Ivan Melnikov slammed the move as "nothing less than an ideological provocation" and expressed confidence it would not find public acceptance.

"If I had not known of this I would have thought it was a joke," he seethed.

Statues of Lenin remain common in Russia and Saint Petersburg's wider region is still officially known as the Leningrad Region.

Memorials to his successor, the tyrannical Joseph Stalin, are far rarer and his name has disappeared from maps, though he remains a hero for many Russians for his role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II.

AFP/Expatica

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