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Leningrad council accepts name change

MOSCOW -- The Leningrad City Council voted Tuesday to restore the city's original name, St. Petersburg, in accordance with the results of a local plebiscite two weeks ago.

The decision ratified the outcome of the June 12 referendum, in which 54 percent of the voters in the country's second-largest city supported reclaiming Leningrad's name from its founding by Peter the Great in 1712 until 1914.

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Voting 205-47 with 17 abstentions, the council urged the Russian Federation's Congress of People's Deputies to enact the name change formally. The republic's supreme legislature meets next month to implement the results of the June 12 elections, in which Boris Yeltsin was elected the first Russian president.

The Leningrad council, which radicals have controlled since last year's local elections, also decleared June 12 a city holiday and proclaimed it St. Petersburg's Rebirth Day, the independent Interfax news service said.

The radical governments of Leningrad and the Russian Federation say they have the right to change the city's name, but that claim may be challenged by the Soviet legislature.

In an unsuccessful campaign before the June 12 vote, Communist- controlled central newspapers argued bitterly against stripping Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin's name from the city, which was called Petrograd from 1914 to 1924, then renamed Leningrad.

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