Here’s Why ‘Chicken Kiev’ Is Being Renamed ‘Chicken Kyiv’

Sainsbury’s is renaming chicken Kievs to match the Ukrainian spelling of their capital city Kyiv in the wake of the Russian invasion.

The supermarket chain said it would start rolling out new packaging in the coming weeks using chicken Kyiv, rather than the Russian spelling Kiev. Ukrainians pronounce their capital “kee-yiv”. The Russian version is “kee-yev”.

The retailer also said it has removed all products that are “100 per cent sourced from Russia” from its shelves.

“We stand united with the people of Ukraine. We have reviewed our product range and have decided to remove from sale all products that are 100 per cent sourced from Russia,” a statement said.

“This means that from today we will no longer sell two products – Russian Standard vodka and Karpayskiye black sunflower seeds.”

What is the history?

Kiev, based on transliteration from the Russian cyrillic Киев, has long been the accepted international spelling, a hangover from Ukraine being swallowed up by Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.

But since independence in 1991, Ukrainians have been anxious to shed the connection with the USSR and the Russification of their country. Kyiv was officially adopted in 1995.

The spelling and pronunciation took on even greater political significance four years ago after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. It prompted the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to launch the “KyivNotKiev” campaign.

Since international media started to pay closer attention to the country as Russian president Vladimir Putin prepared the ground for an invasion, Ukrainians have implored foreign journalists to report the name accurately.

But not everyone is saying “chicken Kyiv”

Sainsbury’s is the first UK supermarket to make the switch, and it remains to be seen if other retailers will follow.

In the media, the respected Associated Press news organisation, which produces a hallowed spelling and grammar “stylebook” that is followed by newsrooms across the world, has said “chicken Kiev” will remain its preference.

It tweeted in January: “The spelling Kyiv is AP style for the capital of Ukraine, in line with the Ukrainian government’s preferred transliteration to English and increasing usage. The style for the food dish remains chicken Kiev.”

AP changed “style” for the spelling of the city in 2019. AP’s vice president for standards, John Daniszewski, wrote at the time:

“We are making a significant change in our style for the Ukrainian capital city Kiev. It will henceforth be written in text, captions and datelines as Kyiv.

“The change is in line with the Ukrainian government’s preferred name and transliteration. The spelling Kyiv also has been gaining usage over the last decade among governments, international bodies and media organizations.

“The former spelling, Kiev, will still be seen in AP stories in certain contexts, such as the popular culinary dish, chicken Kiev, and in historical contexts, such as Kievan Rus, the name of the early East Slavic culture and state.

“Although the AP prefers traditional English spellings for many cities, including Rome, Moscow and Warsaw (not Roma, Moskva and Warszawa), we regard the Ukrainian spelling of Kyiv as an important adaptation because it is linked to Ukraine’s present status. To many Ukrainians, the former spelling Kiev appears outdated because it is associated with a time when Ukraine was part of the Russian and Soviet states, rather than an independent country.”

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