Streets and villages of Zugdidi that still carry Soviet names
During the period of Soviet occupation, new toponyms were introduced in Georgia – the names of many streets, villages and sometimes cities were changed to those charged with ideological and political meaning.
Transparency International Georgia’s observations showed that Soviet, Communist toponyms still persist in Georgia. This time, we would like to report on the streets and villages in Zugdidi which still carry Soviet, Communist names.
- Lavrenti Beria Street – Beria was a high-ranking official and head of security administration of the Georgian SSR and Transcaucasian SFSR in the 1920s, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia in the 1930s, the Union-level Minister of Internal Affairs starting from 1938. He was in charge of the mass terror in Georgia.
- Ivan Vnukov Street – Vnukov was a major-general of the Soviet Army. In the 1920s, he participated in crushing the anti-Soviet movement in Central Asia and fought in Finland in 1939. He died in Zugdidi in 1988 and is buried there too, which is probably why one of the streets was named after him.
- Nikolai Ostrovsky Street – Ostrovsky was a Soviet writer, author of the novel How the Steel was Tempered, supporter and ideologist of the Soviet totalitarian regime.
- Vasil Kikvidze Street – Kikvidze was a Soviet military man. In his youth, he was a member of the Socialist Revolutionary (“esery”) terrorist squad, was notable for his brutal treatment of civilians during the civil war between the so-called Red Army and White Guard in Russia.
Furthermore, there are four streets in Zugdidi that are named after Russian cities: St. Petersburg (former Lenin) Street, Moscow Street, Krasnodar Street and Volgograd Street. It is noteworthy that all four streets received these names during the period of the Soviet occupation.
- Kirov Village – this village is named after the Soviet and Communist Party high-ranking official, Sergei Kirov. Kirov was one of the organizers of establishing Soviet rule in the North Caucasus, participated in the occupation of Azerbaijan in 1920 and then of Georgia [in 1921]. The original, historical name of the village is Mere.
- Oktomberi (October) Village – the village received this name to mark the so-called October Revolution/coup of 1917. The original, historical name of the village is Tsaishish Kakhati.
It should be noted that one of the aims of the law entitled Freedom Charter passed by the Parliament of Georgia in 2011 is precisely to eliminate the Communist names of streets, squares, villages and towns. The Georgian Government resolution from 2011, On Establishing the Rule of Naming Geographic Sites Located Within the Administrative Borders of Municipalities obliges the self-governing entities to rename geographic sites carrying the names that are related to the Soviet, Bolshevik regime.
Our research has confirmed that these legal requirements are not being observed by Zugdidi Municipality.
Transparency International Georgia calls on Zugdidi Municipality Council to make the decision on renaming the villages and the streets carrying Soviet names in the nearest future.
The publication was prepared with the financial support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs