Soviet Totalitarian Toponymy in Georgia

News | Research | Memory and Disinformation Studies 30 June 2021

In 2021, the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida conducted large-scale research within the frame of which the organization studied the living areas, streets, squares and other toponyms with the Communist, totalitarian names on the territory controlled by Georgia. The research was aimed at enhancing the discussion about eradicating Soviet totalitarian symbols and names, as foreseen by the Georgian legislature, which one of the essential steps for the ongoing de-communization.


For gathering data, IDFI addressed the municipalities with letters requesting public information. Additionally, similar requests were sent to the State Service Agency and the National Agency of Public Registry of Ministry of Justice of Georgia but these requests were left without a response. Moreover, the organization used the data available on the new cadastral map of the Public Registry at, Google Maps and the database of the Georgian Post.


The key findings of the research are as follows:


- Soviet names are fully eradicated in the 34 living areas out of the studied 80 ones while they still remain in the 46 areas. Among them, 35 areas include the names of persons, events and organizations that have committed crimes against humanity.


- There are the names of those persons who are still actively used by the Russian propaganda.


- Besides the Communist names, the Georgian toponymy still includes the names associated with the policy of Russification.


- Some streets are still named after the people who have no special importance for either Georgia or the world.


- Changes are reflected on Google Maps with a significant delay.


The report, also, includes the recommendations for the Government and the municipalities:


- The municipalities should work actively on changing the names of public spaces especially when these names are related to the persons, events and organizations that have committed crimes against humanity.


- Active information campaigns should be carried out at those places where the local population opposes the changes.


- A careful approach should be chosen in those municipalities that are populated with ethnic minorities. The information campaign for the local population should be held in the language they understand.


- A special commission should be established for implementing the principles of the Freedom Charter, which will assess the names separately and elaborate the recommendations on either changing or maintaining the names.





This material has been financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. Responsibility for the content rests entirely with the creator. Sida does not necessarily share the expressed views and interpretations.



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