Russia's deputy prime minister has called for the name Stalingrad to be restored to the city that was the site of a key World War II battle against the Nazis.
"I never doubted the need to give back great Stalingrad its name. Not for the sake of Stalin, but for the sake of the Stalingraders," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter.
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin responded positively to a request by a Soviet veteran at the D-Day commemorations in France for the city -- now called Volgograd -- to return to its wartime name, the BBC reported.
"According to our law, this is up to the region and the municipality. In this case the residents must hold a referendum and decide," Putin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency.
"We will do whatever the residents say."
During the 1942-1943 Battle of Stalingrad, the city was besieged and occupied by Nazi forces who were eventually forced to surrender by the Red Army. It was the first major defeat for the Nazis and a turning point in the war.
The devastated city was rebuilt after the war and contains a vast memorial complex. It was renamed Volgograd in 1961 after Nikita Khrushchev denounced the excesses of Stalin's rule. Before the Soviet revolution, it was called Tsaritsyn.
Local lawmakers last year voted to revive its wartime name of Stalingrad for ceremonial purposes six days a year but some believe the city should return permanently to the name in memory of the heroic victory, the BBC reported.
Others remain deeply opposed to reinstating a name that evokes Stalin's regime, which saw millions die through famines, executions and political repression.