Now the city may become Stalingrad once again after president Vladimir Putin proposed holding a referendum to change the name amid a wave of second world war patriotism over eastern Ukraine. When asked by a Soviet veteran during D-day commemorations in Normandy on Friday, Putin promised to help the city’s residents vote on bringing back the Stalingrad name. “It wasn’t me who canceled that,” Putin told the veterans.
On Sunday, Russian Orthodox church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin also spoke out in favour of a referendum. “The word Stalingrad already has a life of its own, independent of the name Stalin. It’s associated with the victory in a famous battle, with a certain part of our history,” Chaplin said, news agency Interfax reported.
Several other prominent politicians, including deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin and Communist party leader and MP Gennady Zyuganov, were quick to put their weight behind the possible name change. But Putin’s support is what is likely to move the initiative forward in Volgograd, which is one of Russia’s largest cities with more than 1 million people.