During the observance on the first weekend in July of the Day of the City in Kaliningrad, a group of citizens disseminated, through a regional Internet site, their appeal to rename the city back to Konigsberg, which is its historical name. The appeal was addressed to the Mayor and the City Council. There is next to no information about the group, except that it includes Yuri Nushtayev, an artist.
In their appeal, the members of the group say that 'Through its 750 years-long history, Konigsberg gave the world a large number of highly notable citizens and various discoveries'. Therefore, the world-wide renowned and respected name must be returned to it so that 'it may, as before, sound freely and proudly inspiring the posterity'.
The authors of the appeal emphasise that what they want is not exactly the renaming of the city but giving it back its true historical name. They especially point out that 'The city's authorities and the public must clearly realise that there is a considerable number of residents in Kaliningrad whose position as concerns this matter is clear-cut and won't change. They are ready to stand for their viewpoint and will have to be counted with'.
The group wants the historical name back by the city's 750th anniversary in 2005. It coincides in time with the 60th anniversary of the victory in WW2. The group says they will direct their appeal to President Putin and also to UNESCO, the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Baltic States.
Signatures are being collected in the support of the appeal. The action will continue through July 1, 2004.
In 1980s, the issue of renaming Kaliningrad back to Konigsberg was once considered. At that time, the city's authorities, after considering the position of the public, decided it was not necessary.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.