This Could Be a Way Different City 15:37, 15/07/2003, Kiril Poznyak, Belorusskiye Novosti
Apparently, all the political turmoil around Vasil Bykov’s demise has cooled down now. But how long will the silence last? One could expect that the 80th anniversary of the Belarusian literature classic, due to be marked next year, can turn out just as scandalous as Bykov’s funeral. However, we’d like to believe that both the authorities and a special public commission on the commemoration of Bykov’s memory, which includes his loved ones, friends and colleagues, would find compromise.
In particular, this commission offers to call one of the Minsk prospects by the name of Bykov. Or at least some street. Most likely it will soon be done, but it is necessary that the concomitant official ruling doesn’t turn into an ordinary formality. The snag is, the national toponymy policy, recently conducted in the capital, makes one fear that they will rename after Bykov some remote street in the suburbs – in, say, Loshitsa or Sukharevo. And the majority of Minskers will be absolutely clueless to the fact that there’s a street of Bykov in their native city. That same Bykov, whose writings they studied at school and read after it.
Minsk toponymy police represents a real problem in itself. The Belarusian capital, as concerns the names of its streets, remains by right the most Soviet of all former USSR countries. And nobody really cares about renaming the streets. On the contrary, recently they determined to return to the “Independence square” metro station its old name of a “Lenin’s square”.
Just look what’s going on in the central city: streets Communist, Kirov’s, Lenin’s, Marx’s, First of May, Revolutionary, Komsomol, International, Sverdlov’s, Soviet, Engels’s…