Foreign Ministry Disapproves of St. Petersburg Metro Station Name
Published: October 11, 2012 (Issue # 1730)
St. Petersburg Metro
The Foreign Ministry has said that naming the new metro station ôBukharestskayaö would be inappropriate due to political tensions between Russia and Romania.
MOSCOW Ś TheáForeign Ministry has weighed ináon aásubject not typically within its purview: theánaming ofáa St. Petersburg metro station.
Theáministry sent aáletter toáSt. Petersburg City Hall recommending that theáname ofáBukharestskaya station, set toáopen ináthe city's south ináDecember, be changed onáthe grounds that Russia has strained relations with Romania. Bucharest is theácapital ofáRomania.
But theácity's place-naming commission objected toáthe ministry's reasoning, saying theáname simply serves toátell metro passengers where they are ináthe city: Bukharestskaya Ulitsa.
"The Foreign Ministry's letter provides aágeneral political argument about relations between theátwo countries that has nothing toádo with city life andáspecifically with its underground system," said Valeria Kozlova, executive secretary ofáthe Toponymy Commission, part ofáthe city administration's Culture Committee.
"The subway is aápractical thing andáshouldn't have anything toádo with theácurrent political situation," Kozlova said.
Theáname Bukharestskaya was chosen foráthe station 10 years ago, when construction onáit began, based onáthe fact that it has anáexit onto aástreet ofáthe same name, she said.
That street, Bukhrestskaya Ulitsa, was named iná1964. Theácity is not considering renaming it.
TheáForeign Ministry sent its letter after State Duma deputy Andrei Isayev ofáUnited Russia told theáministry he was concerned about theáname.
"I asked theáForeign Ministry whether relations between Russia andáRomania were amicable enough toáname aámetro station ináhonor ofá[Romania's] capital," Isayev said byátelephone.
He said he received aáreply signed byáFirst Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov saying that relations with Romania were indeed very poor andáthat theádecision toáname aámetro station Bukharestskaya therefore was "strange."
Anáofficial statement posted onáCity Hall's website says theáToponymy Commission was informed ofáthe Foreign Ministry's stance onáthe issue atáa meeting ofáthe commission Monday chaired byáDeputy Governor Vasily Kichedzhi.
TheáToponymy Commission ruled not toáchange theáname ofáthe station, but theáfinal decision rests with Governor Georgy Poltavchenko, who is set toáannounce his ruling next week, Kichedzhi told Ekho Moskvy radio.
Several metro stations ináMoscow have theánames ofáEastern European capitals, including Bratislavskaya station onáthe light green Lyublinskaya Line, which took its name fromáSlovakia's capital, Bratislava, when it opened iná1996, andáPrazhskaya station onáthe gray Serpukhovkso-Timiryazevskaya Line, opened iná1985 andánamed after Prague, theácapital ofáthe Czech Republic.
There was also aápopular store called Bucharest ináMoscow during Soviet times that sold goods fromáRomania such as leather bags andáfurniture. Relations with Romania were not particularly positive then either, particularly during theáRomanian rule ofáNicolae Ceaucescu.
Sergei Utkin, anáexpert onáEuropean politics atáthe Russian Academy ofáSciences, said that while Russian-Romanian relations are troubled, theálink between theápolitical situation andáthe metro station name was "unclear."
"Relations between theátwo nations are not limited toácurrent issues andáhave aálong history, though it's hard toáremember vivid positive moments ináofficial relations between Russia andáRomania inárecent years," Utkin said.
He said bilateral relations would likely improve only after aánew generation ofápoliticians took theáreins ináeach country, particularly ináRomania.
Both theáForeign Ministry andáthe Romanian Embassy ináMoscow declined toácomment onáthe situation.