Lenin is under fire in the city that bears his name.
Amid mounting reaction against decades of adulation of the Soviet state's founder, a Soviet weekly reported this week that half the inhabitants of Leningrad wanted an end to their city's link with his name.Elsewhere in the Soviet Union, an official report from the Crimean city of Feodocia said a bronze statue of the Bolshevik leader had been seriously damaged by explosives Monday night. In a nearby town a Lenin monument was daubed with black paint.
A commentator for the radical weekly Moscow News said the Communist Party itself had fueled the anti-Lenin mood across the country by failing to renounce the long-held dogma that he was an infallible demigod.
Citing opinion polls taken by a major social research institute in Leningrad, Moscow News said 44 percent of its 4.2 million inhabitants wanted a return of its original name, St. Petersburg.
A further 5 percent favored Petrograd, the more Slavic name given to the city in 1914 in a surge of patriotic feeling when czarist Russia went to war with Germany, while only 37 percent wanted no change.
The city, originally named after Czar Peter the Great who founded it amid swamps on the Gulf of Finland in the early 18th century, was renamed for Lenin after his death in 1924 on the initiative of Josef Stalin.
According to Moscow News, the Leningrad Communist Party newspaper had sensed the tide was flowing toward a name change "and has proposed as a compromise of despair that the central part of the city be named the St. Petersburg region."
Leningrad's radical mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, who resigned from the party in July, said recently he favored a delay in restoring the old name because this would cost some $224 million that the city could ill afford.