Street in Grozny Named After Putin

ReutersMen carrying Chechen flags Sunday past a street sign marking Prospekt Putina, formerly Prospekt Pobedy, in Grozny.
Vladimir Putin's portrait dominated government offices during the eight years of his presidency, and in a sign that his power is not winding down, the influential prime minister has been honored with a street named after him -- an initiative he coldly accepted, Putin's spokesman said Monday.

In a ceremony marking 420 years of Russian and Chechen relations, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on Sunday renamed Prospekt Pobedy, the main street of Grozny, Prospekt Putina, or Putin's Avenue.

"As a Chechen and as a Muslim, I'm ready, if needed, to die for Vladimir Putin," Kadyrov said during the ceremony, Interfax reported. "Thanks to this man, we have reached this day when Chechnya is ruled by peace and tranquility."

Vladimir Ustinov, presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, and State Duma deputies, as well as thousands of students and Chechens, attended the event, Interfax reported.

"Terrorists from 60 countries came to Chechnya not to make it an independent country, but to transform it into a springboard for destroying Russia. They didn't succeed thanks to Putin's will and resolve," Kadyrov said.

After a series explosions hit four apartment blocks in the cities of Buinaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk in September 1999, killing nearly 300 and injuring more than 550, then-Prime Minister Putin embarked on the second Chechen war, which boosted his popularity and helped him win the presidential election in 2000.

In March 2007, Putin nominated Kadyrov to the Chechen presidency.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Putin could not stop regional leaders from naming streets after him or people from hanging his portrait on their walls, but the prime minister does not like this way of showing affection for him.

"These are decision made by the regional leaders," Peskov said. "It is their right [to make them]. They don't need to ask [Putin] for permission."

Federal law holds that streets can be named after someone only 10 years after the person has died, but the law is often ignored. In August, the Moscow street Bolshaya Kommunisticheskaya Ulitsa was renamed Ulitsa Solzhenitsyna, to honor the memory of Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died Aug. 3.

Duma deputies from the United Russia majority voted to lift the 10-year provision if a presidential decree is signed calling for someone to be recognized, and President Dmitry Medvedev urged Moscow to name a street after Solzhenitsyn in a decree issued three days later.

Moscow authorities previously violated the law by renaming a street after slain Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, Ramzan Kadyrov's father.

"This is a sign of gratitude for what Putin has done in Chechnya," said Kadyrov's adviser, Timur Aliyev. "The situation is stable, and the city is developing."

Political analyst Yury Korgunyuk said that by naming the main street of Grozny after Putin, Kadyrov was emphasizing that he is Putin's ally and that he would be loyal to him and not to Medvedev.

Before Medvedev assumed the presidency, Kadyrov had sworn loyalty to Putin, but he never repeated it after the inauguration to avoid challenging Medvedev, Korgunyuk said.