St Petersburg's Toponymy Commission has voted to name one of the city's bridges after Chechnya's first president, Akhmad Kadyrov.
In a secret ballot, nine of the Commission's 17 members voted to pass the proposal while six voted against it. Nine members of the Commission also voiced support for further discussion of the issue with experts, with member and employee of The State Museum of the History of St Petersburg Galina Nikitenko stating that she felt pressured to vote, according to the Slon.ru news website.
A number of prominent cultural figures have spoken out against the decision, including film and theatre actor Oleg Basilashvili and acclaimed film director Alexander Sokurov.
“Residents of St Petersburg will be outraged to have a reference to this notorious family in the city that underwent the blockade,” Sokurov wrote in a message to the governor of St Petersburg.
A demonstration against the proposed renaming took place in St Petersburg on Saturday, with protesters wielding placards bearing a selection of possible names for the currently nameless bridge.
“Most of those we asked preferred the names ‘Zhemchyuzhny’ (Pearl) and ‘Dudergofsky’,” Ilya Smirnov, one of the rally's organisers, said in a statement to the Rosbalt news agency.
The idea to name the bridge after Mr Kadyrov, who is the father of the current Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, came about in March this year. St Petersburg's Toponymy Commission was called for an emergency meeting last week in order to speed up the naming process.
Akhmad Kadyrov (d. 2004), was the Chief Mufti of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in the 1990s during and after the First Chechen War. Upon the outbreak of the Second Chechen War he switched sides, offering his service to the Russian government, and subsequently became the President of the Chechen Republic from 5 October 2000. He was killed by a bomb blast orchestrated by Chechen Islamists in the Chechen capital, Grozny.
Source: The Moscow Times