When and why were toponyms renamed in Crimea?

February 1, 2023

In the last three centuries, the Crimean peninsula has undergone large-scale renaming of various geographical names in order to destroy the historical connection of the indigenous peoples with the Crimea and create a peninsula with a Russian way:

  • In 1783-1917, the Russian Empire renamed dozens of settlements in Crimea and introduced new names associated with Russian colonization. For example, the settlement Akyar was named Sevastopol, Akmesdzhit – Simferopol.
  • In 1917-1944, the communist authorities tried to rename some settlements in Crimea, but they failed, so they began to create new settlements with communist names. The Bolsheviks, who had just come to power, destroyed ethnic names, but the names of settlements and administrative units appeared in honor of Vladimir Lenin, Friedrich Engels, Karl Liebknecht, etc. In 1921, Yalta was even renamed Krasnoarmeysk.
  • In 1944 – early 60s, the Soviet Union renamed 1444 settlements in the Crimea, there was also an attempt to rename geographical names. This wave of renaming became the most massive and destructive for the Crimean toponymy. It all started with the illegal deportation of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people, and after the crime was committed, the Soviet authorities tried to destroy everything that was connected with the Crimean Tatars. In addition to the names of settlements, the names of railway stations, sidings, streets and historical and cultural objects were changed.

For the indigenous peoples of Ukraine, the destruction of historical toponyms dealt a huge blow. Renaming, Russification and Sovietization destroyed the history, culture and language of the Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks. Of course, the destruction of toponyms is a distortion of history…

The existence of a totalitarian regime on the peninsula led to a huge toponymic catastrophe. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation today continues the practice of its predecessors, but we will talk about this in the next publication!

The campaign is implemented with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.