On May 19, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in accordance with the requirements of the Law “On condemnation of the communist and national socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and prohibition of propaganda of their symbols”, adopted Resolution “On renaming of individual localities and regions” (draft No. 4085).
Thus, the Parliament approved the change of names of a number of localities in the country (mainly villages). However, the list includes several cities, namely two large ones: Dnepropetrovsk, which was renamed into “Dnipro”, and Dniprodzerzhynsk, which was returned a historic name – “Kam’yanske”.
Changing names immediately became one of the key topics for discussion and quite likely can cause public interest similar to the one that is now observed around the issue on renaming Kirovograd.
Indeed, those who disagree with such changes have the right to defend their position on the matter in court. The appropriate procedure is regulated in detail by the Code of Administrative Procedure, namely Article 171-1, which envisages the right to appeal against resolutions of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. According to this rule, such disputes are considered by the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine, which acts as a court of first instance, with the possibility of further review by the Supreme Court of Ukraine.
The main arguments of the plaintiffs can be possible violations committed during adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the resolution, and proving that the old name of inhabited locality did not contain in its etymology the symbols of communist totalitarian regime.
To the point, the second method was used in an attempt to leave the old name of Dnipropetrovsk – it was proposed to change the origin of the town name from the name of the “Dnipro” river and “Petrovsk” – in honor of St. Peter. However, the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, as an institution, which recommendations serve as a basis for renaming inhabited localities, such tricks are simply inadmissible.
To date, the right to appeal against resolutions of the Parliament on change of names was used by two settlements – the city of Chervonozavodske in Poltava region, which was renamed in Zavodske, and urban village Komsomolske in Kharkiv region, which after renaming received the name Slobozhanske. Both cases are pending in the High Administrative Court of Ukraine, but as change of names was the result of work of the whole groups of experts in the relevant industries, the prospects of granting the claims stated are very low. The possibility of challenging on similar grounds the change of names of the former Dnipropetrovsk and Dniprodzerzhinsk is even less likely, because the names of both cities contained explicit communist symbols. Not to mention Komsomolsk, renamed into Gorishni Plavni, which caused an unprecedented boom in social networks and division of society into supporters and opponents of such name.
In this regard, the residents of renamed settlements have no choice but to accept the appropriate changes.