The suggestion to call Russia ‘Moscovia’ is an irrelevant joke, Putin’s spokesman has stated
Depiction of the Moscow Kremlin during the rule of Prince Dmitry Donskoy (1350-1389). Apollinary Vasnetsov, 1922 © Wikimedia
The idea being considered in Ukraine to rename Russia as ‘Moscovia’ is “ridiculous nonsense,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has instructed his cabinet to contemplate the move after an online petition gained traction.
“If I’m not mistaken, there were plenty of jokes along these lines,” Peskov told journalists on Monday when asked about the proposal.
“One can only take it with a smile. Russia will remain a great nation, regardless of what someone calls it. And it will remain Russia,” he added.
The renaming idea stems from a dispute about the legacy of Kievan Rus. The term was invented in the 19th century by Russian historians to describe a loose alliance of Slavic principalities that existed between the late 9th and mid-13th centuries, along trade routes connecting the Byzantine empire with Northern Europe.
The Russian nation that coalesced around the Grand Duchy of Moscow, or Muscovia, by the late 15th century traced its cultural and religious roots to that period. A popular theory among some Ukrainian nationalists is that modern Ukraine is the “true” incarnation of Rus, and that Russia “stole” its heritage.
An online petition submitted to a Ukrainian government website last November urged the use of ‘Moscovia’ and ‘the Moscovian Federation’ instead of ‘Russia’ and ‘the Russian Federation’ in official paperwork.
It garnered over 25,000 signatures, prompting a formal response from the government. Zelensky has said the proposal should be “carefully” considered.
Other Russian officials besides Peskov have mocked the suggestion. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova argued that it serves as more evidence “of an attempt to create an ‘anti-Russia’ out of Ukraine.”
Former President Dmitry Medvedev suggested that Ukraine would be better off changing its own name to ‘Schweinisch Bandera-Reich’ (‘Piggish Bandera Reich’). Medvedev was referring to Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its collaboration with Nazi Germany. Bandera is considered a national hero in modern Ukraine.