WASHINGTON (AP) — The Russian Embassy in Washington has a new address, at least symbolically.
A one-block section of Wisconsin Avenue directly in front of the embassy was officially renamed Boris Nemtsov Plaza on Tuesday, in what amounts to a D.C.-sponsored effort to troll the Russian government.
A former deputy prime minister, Nemtsov became an opposition activist and vocal public critic of President Vladimir Putin. He was shot dead while walking on a bridge near the Kremlin three years ago.
The move to rename the street started in the U.S. Congress at the urging of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and others.
"This serves as an enduring reminder to Vladimir Putin and those who support him that they cannot use murder and intimidation to suppress dissent," Rubio said.
When the original street-renaming bill stalled in the heavily polarized and divisive Senate, Rubio turned to the D.C. Council for help. City Councilmember Mary Cheh agreed to sponsor the bill, which breezed through the council in January after public hearings that included testimony from Nemtsov's daughter, Zhanna Nemtsova.
Cheh on Tuesday noted that Moscow police have prevented Nemtsov supporters from maintaining a shrine at the site of his killing, repeatedly clearing away candles and flowers from the bridge.
"This commemoration will not be removed," Cheh said. "Let them steal the candles. Let them steal the flowers. They can never steal his memory."
Several speakers, including Rubio, took the opportunity to criticize Putin, not only for his repression of dissent but for Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.