At the end of March, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry launched an online campaign asking countries around the world to rename streets and public squares where the Russian embassy is located as a sign of their sympathy for Ukraine. In Budapest, however, the request is not yet on the agenda, and not many signatures have been collected in support.
Hungarians have not yet rallied to collect signatures, as less than 300 signatures have been collected in nine days. However, there have been other street renamings in Budapest not so long ago, to send a foreign policy message.
Last summer, after it came to light that China’s Fudan University would be opening a campus in Hungary, the Ferencváros Municipality renamed the surrounding streets. So in the area where the government plans to build Fudan, these are the streets that people might encounter: Dalai Lama Street, Uygur Martyrs Street, Free Hong Kong Street, and Bishop Hsieh Si-kuang Street.
With the renaming, “we wanted to strengthen the voice of voters and leaders on the Fudan University project,” said Krisztina Baranyi, mayor of Ferencváros. Based on this, renaming Bajza Street to Free Ukraine Street would not be something new.
It has not been officially proposed, but I have been approached by several people who have asked me to rename Bajza Street to Free Ukraine or something similar. While I deeply condemn Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, I am conservative on the street renaming and think it is a rather symbolic action that may cause unpleasant moments for embassy staff, but would not be of real help to anyone or anything,”
said Tamás Soproni, mayor of Terézváros.
The renaming of the streets of Russian embassies in several countries has already taken place before Ukraine asked the world to do so. In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, it is called Ukrainian Heroes’ Street, and in Riga, Latvia, it is called Independent Ukraine Street.
Bajza street was symbolically already renamed ‘Ukraine’ in March by activists.
Featured image: A Russian soldier looks at the ruins of a destroyed department store in Volnovaha, southern Donetsk region, on March 26, 2022. Photo by Sergey Ilnyitsky/MTI/EPA