Stockholm mulls renaming Russian embassy street in Ukraine protest

Stockholm’s city government will on Monday discuss renaming Gjörwellsgatan, the street where the Russian embassy is based, following calls for it to be named after the Ukrainian president.

Gjörwellsgatan, the street where Russia's embassy is based might be named after Volodymyr Zelensky.
Gjörwellsgatan, the street where Russia's embassy is based might be named after Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The youth wing of Sweden’s Christian Democrat party, among others, have called for the street to be rechristened Zelenskygatan (“Zelensky Street”), after the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The youth wing of the Liberal Party, meanwhile, has called for it to be named Boris Nemtsovs gata, after the Russian regime critic who was shot dead in broad daylight in Moscow, back in 2015. 

“The street naming committee is meeting on Monday for [one of its] regular meeting, and we are then going to discuss all the fantastic proposals which have come in,” Joakim Larsson, the city councillor in charge of urban planning, told Sweden’s TV4 broadcaster. 

Stockholm is one of a growing list of European capitals that is changing, or considering changing, the names of streets around their local Russian embassies. 

In Oslo, the square outside the Russian Embassy was on Tuesday named “Ukrainas Plass” (Ukraine Square). In Copenhagen, a city council committee will meet next week to discuss renaming the street outside the Russian Embassy “Ukrainegade” (Ukraine Street).

In the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, the street leading up to the Russian Embassy has already been named “Ukrainian Heroes Street”, while in Riga in neighbouring Latvia, the street outside the embassy will be renamed “Ukraine Independence Street”.

In Tirana, capital of Albania, the street outside the Russian Embassy is to be named “Free Ukraine”. 

Rasmus Jonlund, from the Liberal party, who is chairman of the district committee in Kungsholmen, where the embassy is based, told the Mitti Stockholm newspaper that he supported the idea.

“You should not underestimate the importance of symbols. It is important to make a clear statement against this crazy dictator. This is a good proposal I support,” he said. 

He pointed out that Gjörwellsgatan was anyway a street name that people struggled with.

“There is nothing wrong with the architect Gjörwell, from whom the street got its name. But the street is quite difficult to spell and not everyone knows how to pronounce it.” 

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Russia expels Swedish diplomats in retaliation for ‘hostile actions’

Moscow on Tuesday said it was expelling three Swedish diplomats after Stockholm expelled three Russian diplomats over the conflict in Ukraine, despite Sweden saying four were dismissed.

Russia expels Swedish diplomats in retaliation for 'hostile actions'

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement it summoned the Swedish ambassador to Russia and “strongly protested” the expulsion of Russian diplomats and Sweden’s “military support to the Kyiv regime”.

It also accused Sweden of “covering up the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists against the civilian population of Donbas and Ukraine,” referring to a region in eastern Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

“In response to this, the Russian side decided to declare persona non grata three diplomats of the Swedish embassy in Russia,” the ministry said.

In early April, Sweden said it was expelling three Russian diplomats who conducted “illegal operations”, following similar moves by other EU allies.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said the action was “very regrettable,” but said that a total of four diplomats had been expelled — three from the embassy in Moscow and another at the Swedish consulate in Saint Petersburg.

In a written response to AFP, Linde stressed that Sweden expelled the Russians because they had conducted operations that “violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” but claimed the Swedish diplomats had conducted “traditional diplomatic activities.”

“Sweden will respond in an appropriate manner to Russia’s unwarranted and disproportionate actions,” Linde said.