Back in October, Great Names of Russia was announced, a national competition in which the Russian people could cast votes to rename 42 of the country’s major airports, by choosing from a shortlist of famous Russians for each airport.
On 28th November, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on assigning the names of prominent Russian figures to airports, seaports and railway stations, with a view to perpetuating the person’s memory.
The Chairman of the Double-Headed Eagle Society Konstantin Malofeev appealed to Russians to cast their vote on the Great Names of Russia web site, “for those historical figures who made a significant contribution to the development of our country in its imperial period. I call on all Orthodox patriots and monarchists to support the names of those who glorified our Fatherland through the ages,” he said.
More than 5.5 million people took part in the vote, the results of which were formally announced on 4th December, on the state-owned Russian television channel Russia-1 «Россия 1». The final vote yielded some interesting results.
The airport in the Russian arctic city of Murmansk will be renamed in honour of Nicholas II, who received 68,260 votes (48%), followed by Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin, who received 58,927 votes (42%). But, not every one was happy with the results.
Opponents of the vote immediately screamed “voter fraud”, their argument that the city has no connection with Russia’s last tsar. This, however, is incorrect. Murmansk, Russia’s first ice free port was in fact founded in 1916 by Nicholas II and named Romanov-on-Murman. It was from here that many believed the Imperial family would have been sent abroad to England after the tsar’s abdication, however, it was not to be.
Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin (1894 – 1986) was a Soviet polar explorer, scientist, Counter Admiral, twice awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and recipient of nine Orders of Lenin. He took part in the Russian Civil War on the Bolshevik side, fighting in Ukraine. In 1920 he was sent to the Crimea to organize a guerrilla movement against the forces of the White Movement leader General Baron Pyotr Wrangel.
Russian historian Peter Multatuli said that he appreciated the support of the residents of Murmansk to change the name of the airport in honour of the last Emperor. “If airports are named after a person, then the state recognizes his service to the state,” he said in an interview after the results were announced on Tuesday.
“The name of Sovereign Nicholas II won by a large margin, and this is of great importance not only in the sense of justice with regard to the Emperor. The state has finally lifted the taboo in the name of Nicholas II, in which it was vilified during all the years of Soviet power,” Multatuli stressed.
It is Interesting to note that Nicholas II failed to make the short-list of two cities which are more closely connected to his name, and much more deserving than that of Murmansk.
Novosibirsk – Russia’s 3rd largest city – founded in 1893 as Novo-Nikolaevsk in honour both of Saint Nicholas and of the reigning Tsar Nicholas II. It is the only city of the Russian Empire, Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union, which for almost 30 years bore the name of the last Russian emperor and was renamed Novosibirsk in 1926.
Ekaterinburg – Russia’s 4th largest city – founded in 1723 and named in honour of the Empress Catherine I (1684-1727), second wife of Peter the Great and Empress of Russia from 1725 until her death. It was in Ekaterinburg that Nicholas II and his family lived out their final days, before their murders in the Ipatiev House on the night of 16/17 July 1918. They are memorialized in the Ural city with the Church on the Blood, the Museum of the Holy Royal Family, the Romanov Memorial Hall, the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion Bearers at Ganina Yama, monuments and more.
In 2017, Murmansk Airport was the 33rd busiest airport in Russia and served 845,928 passengers, an increase of 10.8% from 2016.
In 2017, Novosibirsk’s Tolmachevo Airport was the 8th busiest airport in Russia. serving 4.8 million passengers, an increase of 22.3% from 2016.
In 2017, Ekaterinburg’s Koltsovo International Airport was the 6th busiest airport in Russia, serving 5.4 million passengers, an increase of 25.7% from 2016.
Other Russian airports will be renamed in honour of three other Romanov rulers, including Vorenezh (International Airport) in honour of Peter the Great; Kaliningrad (Khrabovo Airport) in honour of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna; and Krasnodar (International Airport) in honour of Empress Catherine II.
A final vote for St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport has yet to be announced, however, it would seem more relevant to rename the city’s airport after it’s founder Peter the Great, than that of Vorenezh.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 5 December 2018