Renaming Russia? Zelenskyy wants to lean on it – POLITICO

KYIV — Ukrainians would like to rename Russia — and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is interested in the idea.

A petition has been circulated urging the Ukrainian government to officially change Russia’s name to “Muscow”, a term that dates back to the 13th century and refers to large swathes of modern northwest Russia.

The move is part of a Ukrainian push to diminish what the Russians claim is their historical origin story. Senior Russian officials have already criticized the plan and called it a provocation.

The recent row has its roots in a historic dispute over whether Russia or Ukraine can claim to be the rightful successor to Kyivan Rus – the first state of the Eastern Slavs, which converted to Christianity.

Zelenskyy responded to the petition saying the issue requires careful historical and cultural consideration for possible international legal consequences – but did not rule it out.

“In view of the above, I have addressed to the Prime Minister of Ukraine a request for full processing, in particular with the participation (of) scientific institutions, and informing myself and the author of the petition about the results “, said Zelenskyy.

Valeriya Shakhvorostova, the author of the petition, said the name change is justified because it will destroy Russia’s false accounts of common ancestry with Ukraine, as well as its encroachment on Kyivan Rus’ history.

“For foreigners, the names ‘Rus’ (as Kyivan Rus was marked on old maps) and ‘Russia’, ‘Russia’ and ‘Russland’ seem almost identical, as if it were the name of a state which has undergone certain changes over time and (…) translations into different languages,” Shakhvorostova wrote in the petition to Zelenskyy.

“It creates confusion internationally. Fiction books are written, films are made where Russia is presented as Rus, which is unacceptable,” she added.

Renaming the country would touch the heart of Russia’s cultural tradition and vision of history, Shakhvorostova added.

Peter the Great renamed the Kingdom of Moscow or “Muscovy” to the Russian Empire in 1721. With his wartime victory over Sweden, Peter annexed huge parts of today’s Ukrainian territory and took artifacts history in Russia from Kiev. But some current Russian historians deny this, claiming that Tsar Ivan Grozny (also known as Ivan the Terrible) renamed the Kingdom of Moscow to the Kingdom of Rus in the 16th century.

Whether it gets the green light or not, the Kremlin was infuriated by the Ukrainian decision.

“This is another proof of the attempt to create ‘anti-Russia’ out of Ukraine,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.


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