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'Nemtsov Square' Sign Goes Up Near Russian Embassy In Vilnius


Boris Nemtsov

A sign honoring slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov now stands near the Russian Embassy in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

Dozens of residents and representatives of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats party attended the ceremony for the unveiling of the Boris Nemtsov Square sign on June 9.

On May 23, the Vilnius City Council voted to name the square outside the Russian Embassy after Nemtsov, calling him a “symbol of the struggle for democracy” in his country.

A segment of the street in front of the Russian Embassy was also named after Nemtsov, who was shot dead in Moscow in 2015.

Former Lithuanian leader Vytautas Landsbergis, who attended the ceremony, said naming the square after Nemtsov is a sign of "hope."

"We believe that someday in Russia, our neighbor, democracy and freedom will come to have the same value as here in Lithuania," said Landsbergis, who was the Baltic country's first head of state after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Russian ambassador to Lithuania, Aleksandr Udaltsov, called the city authorities' move politically motivated and "not right." He said it could cause "inconveniences for the embassy employees."

Udaltsov's comment echoed the Kremlin's reaction to a similar move by the authorities of Washington, D.C., in February.

Boris Nemtsov Plaza was officially unveiled outside the Russian Embassy in Washington on February 27, the anniversary of Nemtsov's killing, triggering criticism from Moscow.

А former deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and had sought to build a viable opposition movement. He was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin.

In July 2017, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya guilty of Nemtsov's murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.

But Nemtsov’s relatives and associates believe his killing was ordered at a higher level and say justice will not be served until the person or people behind it are identified and prosecuted.

With reporting by delfi.lt and Interfax

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