15 April 2024

Pending Toponym Changes in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development is in the process of evaluating and recommending renaming some of the country’s toponyms (place names—cities, villages, districts) to comply with its law “On condemnation and prohibition of propaganda of Russian imperial policy in Ukraine and decolonization of toponymy.”

To date this year, it has recommended 347 toponyms be renamed because they “contain symbols of the Russia imperial policy, or do not meet the standards of the state language.” Some of the current names of our German ancestral colonies will be renamed if all the recommendations are approved by Ukraine’s Parliament. 

This is not the first time Ukraine has renamed its cities, villages, and regions. Prior to this in 2016, Ukraine passed a law decommunizing toponyms. Two years later when comparing the current places names on the maps of this project with the official new names, there were several that were changed but not yet updated on Google Maps. It takes a while for place name authorities to catch up and for them to filter into online maps and genealogy software that uses current place names. 

I will update the maps of this project when parliamentary approval has been obtained and a final list of changes is available. Until then, I’m keeping tabs on it. If you’re interested, you can read the committee’s meeting notes here. Let your browser translate the page for you and then search for the word “renaming” on the page. Click on “All news” to see previous news posts. 

None of this should matter too much in your family tree. Ideally, you are recording the historical name of the place and country as it was at the time of your ancestors’ life events, be it imperial, interwar, Soviet, or modern. If you are recording current names or have written narratives of your family’s history using current names, you may have some updates or annotations to make.  

More on this to come as it becomes available. 

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