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DERUSSIFICATION CAMPAIGN

Kyiv renames nearly 100 streets in drive to shed Russian past

An exhibit of Ukrainian military equipment at Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 22 August 2022. (Photo: Julia Kochetova / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ukraine's capital renamed 95 streets on Thursday as part of a drive to purge Russian and Soviet place names, Kyiv's mayor announced a day after Ukraine marked 31 years of independence.

Since Russia invaded in February, Ukraine 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.

One street was named after London, the capital of one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies, while another was dubbed “Ukrainian rebirth street”.

That name echoed Ukraine’s 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 defence minister, was renamed after Ukraine’s Azov regiment, a move likely to infuriate Moscow, which vocally defends its Soviet legacy in Europe.

The Azov unit, which is part of the National Guard, is lionised in Ukraine but vilified by Moscow.

Russia has accused the group of far-right views and designated it a “terrorist organisation”. That in turn has angered Ukrainian officials, who warn Russia may now violate the fundamental rights of Azov prisoners of war.

(Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Alistair Bell.)

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