Bashkiria choosing name for Ufa Airport

The initiative to rename the airport of Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, has swept the masses

The project Great Names of Russia was launched last week to rename 45 major airports in honour of outstanding compatriots. Different regions have already joined the discussion to identify their heroes. Realnoe Vremya has already reported on the process of renaming the airports Kazan and Begishevo (near Naberezhnye Chelny). Our correspondent found out how things are going in Ufa and who of the famous Bashkirs is proposed to include in the lists.

From Aksakov to Salavat Yulaev

On October 4, the Public Chamber of Russia advanced the initiative to assign the names of great compatriots to Russian airports. Forty-five international airports, including Ufa Airport, will get a new name.

In Bashkiria, the republican Public Chamber took on the ''work'' on renaming the airport. It has already announced that they are going to organize a round table discussion in the coming days with representatives of public organizations, political scientists and historians to discuss the most worthy candidate, whose name the Ufa air harbour will have. The republican Public Chamber has announced the initial list of outstanding personalities. They are Salavat Yulaev, Sergey Dovlatov, Feodor Chaliapin, Mustay Karim, Rudolf Nureyev, Akhmet-Zaki Validi, Sergey Aksakov.

Well-known sociologist from Ufa Evgeny Vishnyakov, who heads the research company Tigi, immediately after receiving information about the initiative to name the airport, organized a sociological survey among the Ufa residents: ''After whom would you like to name Ufa Airport?'' The current results of the study, which is still ongoing, he published on his page on Facebook. The first survey covered 400 people in four parts of the Bashkiria's capital. The majority of citizens believes that the airport should be named after writer Sergey Aksakov (30,5%). The second place is taken by singer Feodor Chaliapin (20,7%). They are followed by Salavat Yulaev (15,7%), Mustay Karim (14,5%), Rudolf Nureyev (13,0%), Akhmet-Zaki Validi (2,9%), Sergey Dovlatov (2,7%).

Vishnyakov offers to name the airport after Ismail Tasimov, a mining industrialist, the founder of the St. Petersburg Mining Institute. According to the sociologist, his candidacy is perfect, as it directly connects the Bashkir and Russian peoples.

Vishnyakov offers to name the airport after Ismail Tasimov, a mining industrialist, the founder of the St. Petersburg Mining Institute. Photo:

Ethnic issue

The sociologist officially has not received the order to conduct a survey so far, but if such was received, it would be in two stages.

''At first, it is necessary to define the maximum possible number of candidates, and then to select three leaders from whom to choose the winner,'' Vishnyakov notes. ''But people who have raised this topic do not particularly need such research.''

But this news has literally blew up social networks. What is more, there are a great many arguments both ''for'' and ''against'' certain candidates. Many of them has strongly pronounced ethnic tone.

''Definitely not Nureyev or Gareyev (Musa Gareyev – a pilot, Twice Hero of the Soviet Union – editor's note). They're Tatars. It will be wrong if the airport would be named after them,'' a user noted.

Although opponents object him that officially both Nureyev and Gareev are Bashkirs, but, it seems, not everyone are ready to recognize ''their people'' in them.

The henchman of the nationalists — Ahmet-Zaki Validi – has much more opponents. In Ufa discussions to rename Frunze Street to Validi Street and the importance of this person in history break out with a stable constancy. The appearance of his name in the lists has caused a new surge of these disputes.

Rudolf Nureyev's candidacy also received many negative responses — he is reproached for his unconventional sexual orientation and the fact that he fled the country. Photo:

Rudolf Nureyev's candidacy also received many negative responses — he is reproached for his unconventional sexual orientation and the fact that he fled the country and most of his life was not connected with his small homeland.

Many Ufa citizens are ready to vote for a ''neutral'' person. The candidate who would suit many is storyteller Sergey Aksakov, the author of The Scarlet Flower and A Gun Hunter Sketches. The users note that this name is directly related to Bashkiria and Ufa and known worldwide.

Not in the lists?

On the sidelines, many public and political figures of Bashkortostan give Mustay Karim unspoken leadership. Next year they celebrate the 100th anniversary of the great Bashkir poet, and it could be a good gift for the significant date. Besides, the Bashkir elite breathlessly mentions the name of Timerbulat Karimov — the poet's grandson, and concurrently son-in-law of almighty Igor Sechin, and such gift would also go to the ''credit'' of building relationships with one of the most influential people in Russia.

Own survey was organized by the information agency Mediakorset. Here, the ''official'' nominees are not held in high esteem. More than 40% of the votes was given to the nomination ''Another name''. The second place with a large gap — Mustay Karim.

Among the unspoken leaders who did not get into the shortlist of the Public Chamber of Bashkiria, there are Twice Hero of the Soviet Union pilot Musa Gareyev and artist Mikhail Nesterov. There are those wishing to call the airport after General Minigali Shaymuratov or Alexander Matrosov, as well as now-living Murtaza Rakhimov. Perhaps, the most exotic proposal was made by some Facebook users to give Ufa Airport the name of Walter Bell — the head of the Ufa branch of the American APA Foundation, who saved the inhabitants of the republic from hunger in the '20s of the last century.

On October 15, the Public Chamber of Bashkiria launched a popular vote to choose new name to Ufa Airport. Let's see whom will actually the residents of the republic choose and how their opinion will coincide with the opinion of users of social networks.

By Radik Vakhitov

Ufa international airport is one of the largest passenger transport hubs in the Ural-Volga region. This year, the number of passengers at the airport will exceed 3 million people (in 2017 — 2,85 million people).