Signs of dispute on Moscow's Solzhenitsyn Street

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It had seemed an appropriate memorial. In August, Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev decided to name a street in Moscow after Alexander Solzhenitsyn, shortly after the writer's death aged 89.

But the residents of Alexander Solzhenitsyn Street - as it is now known - appear to have other ideas. Together with Russia's communists, locals have waged a furious campaign against the change of name - and have demanded that the street get its old name of Big Communist Street back

Communist activists have complained that Medvedev's decision to rename the street after Solzhenitsyn - Russia's greatest literary chronicler of communist repression - is, in fact, illegal. Under Russian law, the authorities are supposed to wait ten years before they can name a street after a dead person.

Locals, meanwhile, have gone one step further. Last Sunday residents tore down the street sign, leaving a gaping space above house number 12.

The authorities have now put the Solzhenitsyn sign up again. Another plaque bearing the writer's name hangs at the end of the avenue next to branch of McDonald's, an outlet the Nobel-prize winning author - no fan of western capitalism - was unlikely to have eaten in.

Changing the name of the street was "not only a gross breach of existing legislation but also a challenge to all people with communist views because Solzhenitsyn always fought with the communists," Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the communist Left Front youth organisation, told the Moscow Times.

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