In honor of the U.S. President-elect, some Russians want to rename the Godless Street after Donald Trump. The petition launched by 34-year-old Sergey Bizyukin has already been signed by more than 300 people. The name "Godless" was given to the street during the years of communism when religion was rejected.
The enthusiastic petitioner has borrowed the slogan from Trump’s presidential election campaign and has named it "Make Ryazan Great Again."
Ryazan is about 125 miles southeast of Moscow on the Oka River and has a population of 500,000. Its major industries are electronics and oil refining.
The petition gained support for different reasons, according to the organizer.
"Some saw it as a joke and signed because it was fun, some stood for normalization of U.S.-Russia ties, and some signed because they don't like the name of Godless Street," said Bizyukin.
According to the petitioner, the act is more about using Trump’s popularity in Russia to advocate for change in U.S.-Russian relation and less about Trump and himself.
"Like any other city, Ryazan has its share of problems in economy, with infrastructure. Some of them are being sorted out, some are sorted out very slowly and it may take a while to talk about some of the problems," he added.
Bizyukin feels the U.S. is often unfairly portrayed as a threat to Russia but the people in Ryazan and elsewhere have a much more positive attitude.
Not everyone in Ryazan is happy about the idea though.
"I don't think it makes sense to rename it," one man said.
"What's going to change?" said a citizen.
Another citizen added: "It could be a sign of respect to Trump, that's all. But we shouldn't do it now, maybe later. But it won't make much difference, just to show respect."
Bizyukin says that his petition has caused many in the city to debate ways to improve relations with the U.S.
However, there may be a problem; Ryazan's city council says streets cannot be named after people who are still alive.
Keeping the spirit alive, Sergey Bizyukin says even if the petition fails that won't discourage him.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Viktor Korotayev