Status: 27.09.2023, 16:00 p.m.
By: Marcus Giebel
Still Kaliningrad, but soon again Königsberg? In Estonia, a renaming of the Russian exclave is being discussed. © IMAGO / YAY Images
Estonia is working to shelving the name Kaliningrad for the Russian exclave. Tallinn is also about another city.
Tallinn – Vladimir Putin is likely to take notice of this news. Even if his Ukraine war currently requires the full attention of the Kremlin chief. Like what is happening at the front, the 70-year-old is unlikely to like the development in Estonia.
Königsberg instead of Kaliningrad: renaming after the Second World War
On the website of the Riigikogu, the parliament in Tallinn, it can be read that its Committee on Foreign Affairs has proposed to the Committee of the Estonian Language Society that the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania should no longer be called Kaliningrad, but Königsberg. This was the name of the former German capital of East Prussia before Russia and the Soviet Union claimed it for themselves after the Second World War.
But that's not all. The committee, chaired by Marko Mihkelson, also argues that the Russian city of Kingissepp, just 25 kilometres from the Estonian border, should be called Jamburg or Jaama again in the future. In 1922, the city in the Leningrad Oblast was named after the Estonian revolutionary Viktor Kingissepp, who had been sentenced to death and shot in the same year.
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Kaliningrad owes its name to the former Soviet head of state Mikhail Kalinin, who, however, only followed the will of dictator Josef Stalin and was thus part of his regime. The Estonian politician Mikhelson emphasized in his initiative for a renaming that Latvia, Lithuania and Poland had also decided to use historical names instead of Kaliningrad.
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In Poland, Development Minister Waldemar Buda had said about the renaming to Krolewiec: "We do not want Russification in Poland, so we decided to name Kaliningrad and its region in our own language." He also stressed that Kalinin was a "criminal who was jointly responsible for the decision on the mass execution of Polish officials in Katyn in 1940."
Advocate for the name Königsberg: Marko Mihkelson chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament. © IMAGO / Scanpix
Königsberg near Kaliningrad: City name should honor King Ottokar II of Bohemia
From 1255 to 1946, Königsberg was the name of the city, which today accommodates almost 500,000 citizens. At the time, this was intended to honour Ottokar II, King of Bohemia. Previously, the city had been called Twangste.
In Estonia, the discussion about renaming Königsberg is to be continued in October. Perhaps then she will also be followed with interest from Moscow. However, no one in the Kremlin is likely to have particularly high hopes that Kaliningrad still has a future in Estonian parlance. (mg)