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The plaque in Yaroslavl before it was removed.

A plaque to mark the home of slain Russian politician Boris Nemtsov in the central Russian city of Yaroslavl has been removed.

The plaque was discovered missing on April 15, although it is not known when it was removed.

In February 2016, Nemtsov's supporters installed the plaque to mark the first anniversary of his assassination outside the Kremlin in Moscow. Nemtsov was serving as a deputy in the Yarsoslavl city council when he was killed.

In March, acting Yaroslavl Mayor Aleksei Malyutin said the plaque, which described Nemtsov as a "patriot," might be removed because the authorities had rejected the application to install it.

Authorities in Moscow have rejected all requests to name a city landmark after Nemtsov, who served as deputy prime minister under former President Boris Yeltsin and who was an unrelenting critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has denounced the U.S. State Department's latest human rights report, which harshly criticizes the Kremlin's expansionism in Ukraine and record on civil liberties.

Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's human rights point man, called the annual report a "bossy" document riddled with ideological "cliches" and "anti-Russian stereotypes."

Washington should "finally" start solving "the huge amount of pressing problems in the area of human rights, democracy, and rule of law in the United States itself," Dolgov said in comments published April 14 on the ministry's website.

The ministry's sharp response came a day after the State Department released its annual report on the state of human rights in countries across the globe.

The report said Russia in 2015 "significantly and negatively" affected the human rights situation inside and outside its borders following its forceful annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and its backing of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

It also said that the Kremlin last year "increasingly instituted a range of measures to suppress dissent" and "systematically...harass, discredit, prosecute, imprison, detain, fine, and suppress individuals and organizations engaged in activities critical of the government."

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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