The Kremlin on Wednesday reacted furiously to Poland’s decision to return the name of the Russian city of Kaliningrad on Polish maps to a historic address, calling the move “madness” and evidence of Russophobia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the renaming of the Russian city to its historical Polish name Kruljewicz shows Poland’s “hatred of Russians”.
“This is no longer even Russophobia,” Peskov told reporters. Russian state-run outlet TASS. “These are processes bordering on insanity that are taking place in Poland.”
Krolewiec will only be designated as such on Polish maps, after a government committee recommended the change.
Kaliningrad, administered by the Russian authorities, lies between Poland in the south and Lithuania in the north and east on the Baltic Sea.
Formerly known by the Germanic name of Köenigsberg, the city was inhabited for centuries by Prussians and Germans – and for a period of time by Poland – before it was ceded to the Soviet Union after World War II.
The Soviet Union renamed the city Kaliningrad after Mikhail Kalinin, the original leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in the early 20th century, which brought communism to Russia and eventually formed the Soviet Union.
A Polish government commission officially changed Kaliningrad’s name to Krulwich on Tuesday. Polish authorities said Kalinin was responsible for the killing of 21,000 Polish prisoners of war in 1940, and Kruljewicz’s name is part of their cultural heritage.
Officials said the names generally carry symbolic weight and described the Russian naming as an “artificial baptism unrelated to the city or region”.
The committee said, “The events related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine… make us take a different look at the issue of imposed names, which is very controversial and unacceptable in Poland,” According to the Polish newspaper Rzecpospolita.
Dmitry Medvedev, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday Tear the change in a tweetcalling the authorities responsible for the decision “Polish Russophobia” and mocking the country’s history.
Poland, a member of NATO, has donated weapons and ammunition to Ukraine in the war against Russia.
The country, led by Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, has been one of the most vocal in the Western security coalition regarding efforts to provide more advanced weaponry to Kiev.
Political tensions between Poland and Russia escalated during the war. Polish protesters on Tuesday physically prevented the Russian ambassador to Poland from visiting a cemetery with fallen Soviet soldiers in Warsaw on Victory Day, a huge day of celebration in Russia commemorating the nation’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.
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