City Named After Andropov Gets Back Original Name
MOSCOW (AP) _ The Soviet Union has removed Yuri V. Andropov’s name from a city north of Moscow, Tass reported today, making him the latest former leader whose name hasbeen wiped off Soviet maps.
Residents of the city, 150 miles north of the capital, had asked that its original name be restored, the official news agency said. A Soviet atlas published in 1986 lists the city by the name of Rybinsk with Andropov in parenthesis. The city is not listed separately under the name Andropov.
Andropov was Kremlin leader from the death of Leonid I. Brezhnev in 1982 until his death in 1984. He was succeeded by Konstantin U. Chernenko.
Tass said the Communist Party Central Committee, the Supreme Soviet Presidium and the Soviet government reversed their 1984 decision naming the city after Andropov. Tass did not indicate whether stripping Rybinsk of the name Andropov had any political implications.
President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was a protege of the former KGB chief, who has not been attacked in the official media under Gorbachev.
One high-ranking Western diplomat said Gorbachev’s opponents may have instigated the name change, which he said ″could well be the first″ indication that Gorbachev is in ″political trouble.″
Another Western diplomat disagreed, saying the name change may be part of Gorbachev’s rejection of a cult of personality for former leaders.
″I’m surprised if it is a criticism of Andropov - it seems rather odd,″ said one Western diplomat. Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity.
In January 1988, a city, squares and a Moscow neighborhood were stripped of the name Brezhnev, the late president blamed for stagnation and bureaucracy in Soviet life.
In December, Kremlin officials ordered the names of Brezhnev and Chernenko wiped off their homes and any other towns, schools or factories that still bore their name.
Some associates of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin have also had their names removed from cities and squares during the Gorbachev years.
Place names are now being changed in the Soviet Union not only because of political disgrace, but also to reinstate more popular, historic names eliminated without the approval of local residents.