The Russian consulate in Sydney may soon have a new address on Ukraine Street if a local council is successful.
- Councilors see the name change as a small but symbolic protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- Council received over 300 letters in support of the motion
- The Geographic Names Board will have the final say on any name changes
The town council of Woollahra, in the affluent eastern suburb of Harbor City, passed a motion this week to rename the street on which the Russian diplomatic building is located.
After two hours of debate, councilors agreed to start the process of renaming Fullerton Street – although there are several other hurdles to negotiate before the new name becomes a reality.
Some advisers saw the name change as a small but symbolic protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The project to rename the street has already gained support from the Australian Ukrainian Embassy and other community organizations.
“It can only start here,” Councilwoman Luisa Elsing, who tabled the motion, told council.
“I know that people who live in Woollahra and people who live around the consulate are very keen to clarify their position.
“People say how devastated they are [about the war in Ukraine] and how they want us at Woollahra Council to give all the support we have.”
Councilor Matthew Robertson seconded the motion, saying it was up to council to reflect community values.
“We have to do everything in our power, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
A majority of councilors voted in favor of the motion, with the biggest sticking point Monday over the state of consultation with people living on Fullerton Street.
The plan would also have to be presented to the Geographic Names Board, which would have the final say on any title changes.
If approved, Sydney will join a global initiative to rename the streets of Russian embassies.
In London, there are calls to dub the exclusive street in Kensington Palace Gardens, where the Russian Embassy is located, “Zelenksy Avenue” in honor of the Ukrainian president.
The Sydney Consulate has been the scene of pro and anti-Russian rallies since the invasion of Ukraine in February this year.
Council received more than 300 letters of support for the motion, not all from local residents, and online petitions garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
Andrew Mencinsky, who lives in nearby Edgecliff and is deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Council of NSW, said the name change was symbolic.
“Look, that’s not going to stop the war. It’s going to take more than renaming a street to do that,” he said.
“It gives hope to Ukrainians because they know they are not alone, people are supporting them.”
Mr Mencinsky said it would also serve as a “daily reminder of Ukraine’s sovereignty” for consulate staff.
People across Australia wrote to the council in support of the plan, and Mr Mencinsky hoped the name change would go smoothly.
“I haven’t met anyone who is against it,” he said.
A letter signed by the Charge d’Affaires of the Ukrainian Embassy, Volodymyr Shalkivskyi, urged Woollahra City Council to rename Fullerton Street as a “powerful act of support for Ukrainians”.
The Consulate General of the Russian Federation and the Russian Embassy in Canberra have been contacted for comment.
This decision is not the first of the council targeting the Russian consulate since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Last month, councilors voted to scrap on-street parking permits for the consulate and return parking spaces to the general public.
As part of the Fullerton Street motion passed this week, the council is also calling for greater humanitarian relief from Ukrainian citizens displaced by the Russian invasion.
“If you have the power to do something to support the people of Ukraine, you should do it,” Cr Elsing said.