On 21 April 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law condemning and banning the propaganda of Russian imperial policy in Ukraine and decolonizing toponyms, including the names of streets, towns, cities, and other places. Ukrainian Parliament adopted the law a month before on 21 March 2023.
The law is titled “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Geographical Names’ concerning the Decolonization of Toponyms and the Regulation of the Use of Geographical Names…”
According to Ukrainian historian and MP from the European Solidarity party Volodymyr Viatrovich, the signed law is a systematic document to liberate Ukraine from the markers of the “Russian world.” The law recognizes Russian imperial policy as criminal and condemns it, prohibiting its propaganda and symbolism.
The law would come into effect three months after its publication. Local government and military administrations will have six months to remove symbols of the Russian empire from public spaces, dismantle monuments and memorial signs and rename streets and other objects. Additionally, populated areas with names promoting Russian imperial policy or its figures and propagandists will be renamed.
“There will be no more names and images in Ukraine dedicated to suvorovs and kutuzovs, pushkins and bulgakovs, Russian cities and conquests. Valuable monuments will be moved to museums,” Viatrovich wrote.
The law also mandates renaming cities which have names that do not meet the standards of the Ukrainian language. This refers to such Soviet names as Oktiabrsky (October in Russian) or Yuzhnoukrainsk (South-Ukrainian in Russian), which marked both Soviet propaganda and the Russian language as the official Soviet language.
After the law comes into effect, legal entities will have one month to remove symbols of Russian imperial policy from their names, documents, and symbolism.
In 2022, Ukraine renamed 9,859 toponyms and dismantled 145 monuments related to the propaganda of Russian imperial policy, as reported by the press service of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.