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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mitvol Roars, Eatery Changes Name

MTA waiter coming out of the renamed Sovetskaya restaurant on Sunday.

Oleg Mitvol, the crusading environmental inspector turned Moscow city prefect, has pressured a historically themed restaurant called Antisovetskaya, or Anti-Soviet, to change its name to Sovetskaya, the eatery’s owner said.

The restaurant on Leningradsky Prospekt was renamed Sovetskaya on Friday afternoon, said Vladimir Shtukaturov, the head of the Begovaya municipal council.

“Now there is a shashlik restaurant called Sovetskaya,” Shtukaturov said. “Those four letters were taken off at 2 p.m. with the voluntary agreement of the owners.”

The general director of the restaurant, Alexander Vanin, confirmed the change but denied that it was voluntary.

“We took down the sign under pressure from the district authorities,” he said. “It was to avoid a war and attacks from the prefect, Oleg Mitvol.”

On Thursday, Mitvol, who is prefect of the northern district, told officials to carry out a check of the restaurant, which opened in July.

“Such names are insulting to the history of our country,” Mitvol said in comments published on the web site of the prefect’s office. “Such signs are unacceptable and should be taken down.”

Mitvol is perhaps best known for opening contentious inspections into energy projects during his time as deputy head of the federal environmental watchdog. In 2006, an inspection into Sakhalin-2 only ended after Shell had conceded its majority stake to state-owned Gazprom.

Mitvol was not immediately available for comment, but his web site on Friday posted a letter dated Sept. 7 from Vladimir Dolgikh, chairman of the Moscow Council of Veterans, asking him to “recommend to the management of the shashlik restaurant that the name be changed.” Dolgikh could not be reached for comment.

On Thursday, Vanin wrote a letter to Mitvol complaining that Shtukaturov had “burst into the building and demanded that the exterior be taken down immediately.”

Shtukaturov denied this. “I’m a very cultured person, and I’ve never threatened anyone in my life,” he said.

Vanin’s letter, posted on Slon.ru, asked Mitvol to “resolve this ridiculous situation.” It was also signed by humorist Arkady Arkanov, Ren-TV host Marianna Maximovskaya, children’s television director Boris Grachevsky and animation director Garri Bardin.

The restaurant took down the sign, but hasn’t changed the interior and still greets callers as Antisovetskya, Vanin said. The interior of the themed restaurant on Leningradsky Prospekt features red-and-gold decor and portraits of cultural figures such as Vladimir Vysotsky and Mstislav Rostropovich by photographer Valery Plotnikov.

The restaurant’s name comes from its location opposite Hotel Sovetskaya and was historically given to a shashlik joint there, Plotnikov said. “Back under the Soviet regime, it was a jokey name used by drinkers,” he said.

Numerous restaurants refer to the Soviet era in their names. On Tishinskaya Ploshchad, a fast-food cafe is called Sovetskaya Cheburechnaya.

“It’s really sad and hurtful,” Plotnikov said of the calls for a name change. “We are speedily going back to the Soviet Union.”