Lenin Becomes Lennon: Ukraine Renames Street After Late Beatle

Lenin on the cover of Guitar Player
A copy of the April 2014 issue of Guitar Player Magazine features Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin. Lenin street in one Ukrainian village is set to be named after a more famous guitarist, John Lennon. Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

A Ukrainian governor has ordered that a street named after Vladimir Lenin should be renamed "John Lennon Street."

Lenin Street in the village of Kalini in Zakarpattia, Ukraine's westernmost region, will soon no longer bear the name of the Soviet leader and will instead honor the late Beatle.

Ukraine is currently undergoing a government-led campaign of de-communization, in which names and symbols celebrating the USSR are to be gradually removed from view.

The government has vowed to preserve any items or sites that are deemed culturally important; however, a list has been drafted of over 900 towns and villages currently named after Soviet figures that are to be given new names. Streets and squares are also being gradually renamed across the majority of the country. The only areas of Ukraine where this campaign is not going ahead is in the rebel-held parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The governor of Zakarpattia signed off a decree on Wednesday ordering the changes of names of 10 streets. While the majority of the new names chosen were inspired either by Ukrainians or notable persons from neighboring Hungary and Romania, the village of Kalini has a different patron for one of its streets, in the form of rock legend Lennon.

Among the other changes in the region, the town of Mezhgorye will rename a street formerly named after Red Army commander Nikolay Shchors. They chose Viktor Markus, a Ukrainian soldier killed while fighting separatist rebels, as the street's new patron.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was Kiev's local council that caused controversy by deciding to rename an avenue originally called Moscow, into Stepan Bandera. While Bandera is celebrated as a hero by many Ukrainians who remember his opposition to the Soviet Union during World War II, Russian historians have accused him of being a Nazi conspirator.