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Local Washington Officials Eye Renaming Russian Embassy Street After Nemtsov

The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (file photo)
The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- City lawmakers in Washington are considering renaming the street in front of the Russian Embassy in the U.S. capital to honor slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Mary Cheh, a Democratic member of the D.C. Council, said that if legislation to rename the street is approved, the block of Wisconsin Avenue between Edmonds and Davis streets in Washington would be called Boris Nemtsov Plaza, The Washington Post reported on November 21.

A sign with the new name would appear under the existing Wisconsin Avenue sign, but no actual postal addresses would change, the report said.

Cheh could not immediately be reached for comment on November 22.

Boris Nemtsov
Boris Nemtsov

The initiative follows legislation by U.S. senators to rename the street in Nemtsov's honor that has yet to progress after it was introduced in February.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a lawmaker in the Yaroslavl Oblast and co-chairman of the opposition Parnas party at the time of his killing on February 27, 2015. His slaying drew international condemnation and underscored the dangers faced by Russians who oppose the Kremlin.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (Republican-Florida), one of nine bipartisan members of the Senate to co-sponsor the federal bill, introduced the legislation on the second anniversary of Nemtsov's fatal shooting on a bridge near the Kremlin.

"It's important because it highlights a particular case of an individual who lost his life because of his opposition to the Putin government," Rubio told RFE/RL earlier this year.

In July, 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.

Cheh said she had been approached by U.S. senators who suggested that local lawmakers could change the name of the street after the federal legislation stalled.

She said the sign would stand as a symbol of the democratic values of the United States and that the Russian Embassy would not have a say in the changing of the name.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has criticized the bid to rename the street after Nemtsov.

In an interview with the independent Russian news agency RBK in May, she accused U.S. "political elites" of "manipulating" the slain politician's name.

With reporting by The Washington Post and RBK
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