Anatoly Bibilov, Moscow-backed leader of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, issued a decree allowing adopting of a Soviet-era second name for the town of Tskhinvali -“Stalinir” (in deference to Joseph Stalin, a Soviet dictator) – during the celebrations of 75th anniversary of the “Great Patriotic War” (World War II), local news agency RES reported on April 27.
The town of Tskhinvali carried the name of Staliniri from 1934 to 1961.
According to the source, the alternate, “celebratory” name will be used on a par with “Tskhinvali” on May 9 (Victory Day) and June 22 (beginning of the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union).
Tskhinvali authorities vowed to carry out information campaigns aimed at popularizing the “historical name” of the city among the population.
Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili slammed the name change as an “absurd” and a “tragic” action by Tskhinvali authorities, which was fomenting pro-Soviet sentiments.
“This so called decision will alter nothing on the world map, but it causes indignation on behalf of the [Tskhinvali] people who have been residing for years in what is [in fact] an extended military base, and fell prey to an absurd Soviet experiment dragging them back to the Soviet past,” Minister Tsikhelashvili noted.