This is some pretty great trolling encouraged by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and other critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin: the Washington, D.C. city council just voted to rename a street in front of the Russian Embassy after Boris Nemtsov.
Nemtsov, a fierce and vocal critic of Putin, and was shot dead on a bridge within view of the Kremlin on February 27, 2015. Five men from Chechnya were found guilty of his murder last year and sentenced to prison, but Nemtsov’s family and supporters believe his death was orchestrated by someone high up in the Russian government.
Attempts to establish memorials to Nemtsov in Moscow have been repeatedly thwarted. The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty blog reported that the makeshift memorial on the bridge where he was killed “has been repeatedly ransacked or removed by police or unknown people,” and a plaque mounted on his apartment building to honor him was declared illegal by city officials and removed less than a week later.
Since his Nemtsov’s death, Rubio has been an outspoken advocate for pursuing a true investigation into his death, as well as finding a way to honor his legacy, including filing a bill to rename the plaza in front of the Russian Embassy after Nemtsov.
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) February 27, 2017
“[Nemtsov] was just one of Vladimir Putin’s critics who have wound up dead or hospitalized as the regime cracks down on any opposition and rules Russia with an iron fist,” said Rubio in a statement in support of his bill. “Putin may hope Nemtsov’s murder deters dissent, but we must continue to support Russia’s pro-democracy movement so that does not happen.”
“The creation of ‘Boris Nemtsov Plaza’ would permanently remind Putin’s regime and the Russian people that these dissidents’ voices live on, and that defenders of liberty will not be silenced.”
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) March 30, 2017
Rubio’s bill has stalled in the Senate, but the D.C. city council took up the cause at his urging and yesterday officially approved a name change for a portion of Wisconsin Ave. after Nemtsov. A ceremony to erect the plaque has been tentatively set for the third anniversary of Nemtsov’s murder.
“There is little doubt that his murder was motivated by his political beliefs, his popularity, and his frequent and open criticism of the Russian government,” said Mary Cheh, the city council member who co-sponsored the act, noting that while Nemtsov memorials kept getting removed or vandalized in Moscow, “the Russian government will not be able to do it here.”
Rubio applauded the council’s decision, thanking them for their quick work:
Starting on the third anniversary of Mr. Nemtsov’s assassination, there will be a sign in front of the Russian Embassy to remind Vladimir Putin and his cronies that they cannot use murder, violence, and intimidation to silence dissent.
It is my hope, and the hope of so many Russians fighting for a free and democratic future, that someday there will be a government in Russia that is proud to have Boris Nemtsov’s name outside of their embassy.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.