In a recent development, Russia has strongly criticized Poland for what it perceives as an act of “madness.” The controversy erupted after Poland commenced the process of changing road signs in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to Królewiec, the region’s historical name from the Kingdom of Poland era in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The General Directorate for National Roads and Highways (GDDKiA) of Poland initiated the replacement of road signs in several towns, including Dywity, Dobre Miasto, Wozławki, and Lutry. The decision to exclusively use the Polish name for the city was made by the Commission for Standardization of Geographical Names.
By mid-June, GDDKiA plans to correct a total of 26 characters in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie province, a move that has drawn the ire of the Kremlin.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, characterized the Polish action as “the madness of Poland’s hatred of the Russians.” Dmitry Medvedev, a close associate of President Putin and former Russian president, went so far as to label the Poles as Russophobes in a social media post. Medvedev added to his statement, pointing out other historical names, such as Krakau instead of Krakow, Danzig instead of Gdańsk, Stettin instead of Szczecin, and Breslau instead of Wrocław, suggesting that the list could go on indefinitely. He also made the provocative claim that Poland itself should be referred to as the Duchy of Warsaw, a part of the Russian Federation as the successor of the Russian Empire.
The Polish government, on the other hand, justifies the name change as a preventive measure to counteract what it perceives as an unwanted process of Russification occurring along its borders. It sees this move as a means of preserving its cultural and historical heritage.