Rīga decides on renaming some more streets

Riga City Council decided on Wednesday to rename Maskavas Street and several more streets in the capital, LETA reports.

It is decided to rename Maskavas ('Moscow') Street as Latgales Street, which has historically already been the name of this street.

The current Latgales Street in Rīga, in turn, will be named Jāņa Klīdzēja Street. Jānis Klīdzējs was a Latvian writer and poet from Latgale.

Meanwhile, it is planned to rename the small initial section of Maskavas Street near Salu Bridge as Lastādijas Street. This is done for the safety of the population “so that the emergency services do not have erroneous calls to previous addresses.”

The city council also decided to rename the streets named after Pushkin, Turgenyev, Lermontov, Gogol, and Lomonosov could instead get the names of Latvian cultural figures – linguist Kārlis Mīlenbahs, painter Vilhelms Purvītis, poet Vilis Plūdons, and journalist and publisher Emīlija Benjamiņa, and the first woman in the Latvian governmental structures Valērija Seile.

Tipogrāfijas (Typography) Street is set to be renamed as Augusts Spariņš Street. Augusts Spariņš, a military officer, took part in the Bermondt army's expulsion from Pārdaugava. He was said to have been born and lived in Torņakalns district, near current Tipogrāfijas Street.

As Riga Vice-Mayor Edvards Ratnieks (NA/LRA) explained at the Council meeting, the renaming of streets will cost the local government approximately EUR 80,000.

In the Members' debate, there were mostly two opposing views on street renaming. Representatives of Latvian parties mostly defended the view that in the current geopolitical situation in Rīga all names related to Russia should be changed (despite Typography Street bearing no semblance to anything political).  “We just can't leave those names. The name of Maskavas Street has to go where the warship went,“ Kaspars Spunde (NA/LRA) noted.

The second opinion, expressed mainly by the members of the Russian Union of Latvia (LKS), condemned the renaming of streets and urged the preservation of existing street names. For example, Miroslavs Mitrofanovs (LKS) argued that Maskavas Street had nothing to do with Moscow and the actions and war of the current Russian government in Ukraine. Maskavas Street is part of the history of Riga.

Very emotional discussions arose when deciding to rename Pushkin's Street. Vladimirs Buzajevs (LKS), for example, sought to recite Pushkin's poem in Russian, but got his mic switched off.

Most of Riga City Council's coalition and Progressives voted to rename the streets, while the Russian Union of Latvia, Harmony, as well as independent deputy Jakovs Pliners and deputy of the “Honor to serve Riga” party Natālija Ābola were against.

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