Kiev changes names of 95 streets as part of 'derussification' campaign
One of the streets, previously bearing the surname of a Soviet defense minister, was renamed after Ukraine's Azov regiment, a neo-Nazi group that has expanded to be part of Ukraine's armed forces, a street militia, and a political party.
Ukraine's capital renamed 95 streets on Thursday as part of a drive to purge Russian and Soviet places names, Kiev's mayor announced a day after Ukraine marked 31 years of independence.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Kiev has accelerated what it calls "derussification", a campaign to shed the legacy of hundreds of years of rule by Moscow.
"(The new names) should perpetuate the memory of significant historical events of Ukraine, as well as famous figures and heroes who glorified Ukraine and fought for the independence of our state," Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko wrote on Telegram.
He said the process was far from over and promised to press ahead with the campaign.
St. Petersburg Street was renamed after London, the capital of one of Ukraine's staunchest allies, while another was dubbed "Ukrainian rebirth street."
Derussification news from Kiev: "Marshal Malinovsky Street" is now "Heroes of Azov Regiment Street", "Tula Square" is now "Heroes of UPA Square", "St. Petersburg Street" is now "London Street"— Russians With Attitude (@RWApodcast) August 25, 2022
That name echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who said on Independence Day that Ukraine had been "reborn" when Russia invaded.
Another street, previously bearing the surname of a Soviet defense minister and the WWII Marshal Rodion Malinovsky that contributed to the defeat of fascism, was renamed after Ukraine's Azov neo-nazi regiment.
The Azov group, with far-right and ultranationalist roots, has been one of Ukraine's most visible military forces fighting Russia in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has frequently referenced Azov to bolster its claim that Ukraine is under the hands of "fascists".
Russia has accused the group of far-right views and designated it a terrorist organization.
Fueling anti-Russian sentiment across the world
Since the war began on 24 February 2022, anti-Russian sentiment soared across the Western world. Selective bans have prompted the shutting down of Russian businesses across the EU, bans on Russian-related cultural events, as well as the imposition of a ban on Russian imports.
Some countries have recently sought to ban all Russians from entering the Schengen territory.
Calls have been mounting for the European Commission to ban Russian tourists from entering the EU’s borderless area over the war in Ukraine.
France and Germany have so far refused to back Baltic and some central European states on their initiative citing the freedom of travel principle.
The issue will be on the agenda of the upcoming informal EU ministerial meeting that will take place in Prague on August 30-31.
On August 9, the Kremlin said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's proposal to ban all Russians from visiting Western countries was "out of the charts" and viewed "extremely negatively" by Moscow.
The Kremlin's remarks came after Zelenzky told The Washington Post that current Western sanctions against Moscow are too weak and that the West should close its borders to Russians.
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said "the irrationality of thinking, in this case, is off the charts," adding that "this can only be viewed extremely negatively."
"Any attempt to isolate Russians or Russia is a process that has no prospects," Peskov considered.
The spokesperson recalled events in the run-up to and during World War II, saying that "in their unfriendliness, many of these countries slip into forgetfulness."
"And they resort to statements that we heard from several European countries in the center of Europe 80 years ago," Peskov indicated.