Denis Pushilin, The Leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has signed a decree issued by the authorities in the region to use Donetsk’s former Soviet name: Stalino.
“I hereby decide to provide the name “the city of Stalino” with a status of Donetsk symbol. It is to be used in Republican and city events to commemorate important dates of Donetsk and WWII history.” — Denis Pushilin
The name Stalino will be used on May 9, the day of the victory in World War II, on June 22, the day of Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union and on September 8, which is the day of the liberation of the city from the Nazis.
Donetsk was named Stalin in March 1924, two months after the death of Soviet leader Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin). “The [local] Executive Committee believes the symbol characterizing our great leader, comrade Lenin will be ‘steel’ [or ‘stal’ in Russian] and decided that the city of Yuzovka should be renamed the city of Stalin, and the district and the factory — Stalinsky,” say documents of a plenary meeting of Yuzovka’s District Executive Committee on March 8, 1924, protocol №7. In 1929, its name was modified and became Stalino.
In 1961, Nikita Krushchev, as part of his ‘de-Stalinisation’ attempts to discredit and revise the reputation of former general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and the Bolsheviks, he gave the city a new name — Donetsk. The city was originally named Yuzovka in recognition of Welsh businessman John Hughes who in 1869 founded a steel plant and several coal mines in the region. The city today remains a center for coal mining and for the steel industry.
Why does this matter to the people of Sheffield? During the 1980s the city of Sheffield had a municipal council administration nicknamed People’s Republic of South Yorkshire or the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire. The council pursued a social policy radically different from that of Margaret Thatcher’s national government, following more closely along the lines of the Trotskyist Militant tendency dominated Liverpool City Council and the Greater London Council led by Ken Livingstone. Sheffield City Council constructed large council estates with large numbers of communal blocks of flats based on the streets in the sky philosophy, including the Park Hill complex, and the borough councils of South Yorkshire set up an extensive network of subsidised transport under the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.
The councils also took more confrontational steps against the Conservative Westminster government. Sheffield refused to set a budget in the rate-capping rebellion, while South Yorkshire declared itself a nuclear-free zone and a demilitarized zone. Even flying the red flag from the council buildings on May Day. During this period of government, the city signed a peace treaty with the city of Donetsk in the Ukrainian SSR and made Donetsk a twin city of Sheffield because of each city’s shared history in the Coal & Steel industry, And to send a message to the government in Westminster: Sheffield Stands with the USSR!
The National Union of Mineworkers moved to headquarters in Sheffield in 1983 in the run-up to the decisive 1984–85 miners’ strike and the area subsequently became one of the main centers of the strike.
Donetsk adopting its former soviet name, even if just for a few days a year shows just how important the legacy of the USSR, Lenin & Stalin is to worker’s liberation and self-determination. We support the DPR in its fight against Fascism, Nato, and Western Imperialism — Much like the Peoples Republic and city of Sheffield did in the 1980s. We are committed to real socialist politics in Britain!