Congress of People's Deputies decides to just say 'Russia'

April 17, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- Bucking President Boris N. Yeltsin's advice, the Russian Congress voted to rename the country simply "Russia," in an outburst of nationalist fervor that threw minority groups into panic over their future status.

"Today we have given back the old names to many streets, squares and towns," a lawmaker from the Urals, Anatoly I. Makeyev, an ethnic Russian, told the Congress of People's Deputies. "It only makes good sense to go back to the old name of our state."

Ignoring warnings that to restore the historic name of the world's largest country would hamper new attempts at federalism and goad ethnic separatists, the Parliament, in a rare show of patriotic accord, voted 871-30 yesterday to revive the name Rossiya.

Some envoys from minority homelands angrily threatened to boycott the Congress if the decision is not revoked.

For decades, Russia had officially been called the "Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic," a Soviet-era label that was a claim of ideological purity, then the "Russian Federation" after last August's unsuccessful putsch against then-Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

"What has happened here today is a kind of turning point that shows Russian politicians can still defend the interests of the state," Victor V. Aksyuchits, an avowed Russian nationalist, said happily.

In halting Russian, one non-Russian deputy called the Congress decision a "slap in the face from Big Brother."

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