No more streets in my name, pleads Russia's Putin

Mon Oct 6, 2008 12:43pm EDT
 
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ZASLAVL, Belarus (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wishes officials would stop naming streets after him and erecting statues of him, his spokesman said on Monday.

Putin, who was president for two terms until he stepped down in May, is immensely popular in Russia but his critics accuse officials of trying to create a Soviet-style cult of personality around him.

Authorities in the Chechnya region, now largely calm after Putin sent in troops to crush a separatist rebellion in 1999, on Sunday named a street in its capital after Putin. Chechnya's President Ramzan Kadyrov professes fierce loyalty to Putin.

"(Putin) has said that he does not have the right or the opportunity to put pressure on anyone, but he himself would prefer it if this did not happen," Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a visit to ex-Soviet Belarus.

"That goes not just for re-naming streets in his honor, but also various statues that have been there for several years, his photographs on school textbooks and so forth. On the whole, he does not support this."

 
<p>Men carrying the Chechen flag walk past a Putin Avenue street sign in Grozny October 5, 2008. A central avenue in the capital of Russia's Chechnya region, Grozny, was named after Vladimir Putin on Sunday, honouring the man who sent in troops to crush a separatist rebellion there. REUTERS/Said Tsarnayev</p>