Tags: Russian embassy | Russian President Vladimir Putin | Boris Nemtsov Plaza | Washington | D.C. | City Council | Zhanna Nemitsova

Will Nation's Capital Rename Street for Slain Putin Foe?

Will Nation's Capital Rename Street for Slain Putin Foe?

Left to right: Zhanna Nemitsova, daughter of slain Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, survivor of two poisonings in Moscow, talk to Washington, D.C., City Councilman Phil Mendelsohn before a hearing on renaming a street near the Russian Embassy "Boris Nemtsov Plaza."

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Sunday, 10 December 2017 05:28 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It isn't often that actions of the District of Columbia's municipal government set off international tidal waves. But a move now being considered by the City Council of the nation's capital may do just that — namely, renaming a street in front of the Russian embassy for a murdered opponent of Vladimir Putin.

In emotional testimony that hushed the audience at a Council hearing last Wednesday, Russian dissidents called on lawmakers to rename a bloc of Wisconsin Avenue outside the Russian Embassy compound "Boris Nemtsov" Plaza after the former deputy premier and state (Nizhny Novgorod) governor shot in Moscow in February 2015.

But what makes the Council hearing over a "Boris Nemtsov Plaza" intriguing is that it comes when efforts to honor the freedom fighter in Congress are stalled. Declaring that "murder of opposition figures doesn't go unnoticed," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., offered legislation to rename the street for Nemtsov. The measure was marked up by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, but then blocked without explanation by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., — who, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has nothing to do with legislation renaming streets or memorials.

In addition, there has been no statement so far from the White House or the State Department endorsing what should be a "slam-dunk" proposal — not only because of Nemtsov's eventful life, but because of the circumstances of his death.

"The Kremlin has never identified or held responsible those who ordered his murder," said Vladimir Kara-Murza, chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation and himself a two-time survivor of mysterious poisonings he suffered in the last two years.

Kara-Murza (for whose middle child Nemtsov was godfather) recalled to the Council the significance of the slain dissident in post-Soviet Russia: his work with President Boris Yeltsin to ensure a democratic system, how Yeltsin introduced Nemtsov to then-President Bill Clinton in 1994 with the prediction "he'll be president of Russia," and how Nemtsov grew increasingly critical of Yeltsin's successor Putin as he moved their country away from a democratic model.

"His final act was to denounce [Putin's] Ukraine invasion," said Kara-Murza.

Even more powerful testimony followed, this time from Nemtsov's daughter Zhanna Nemitsova. She recalled how the memorials to her father on the bridge where he was killed have been removed more than 70 times by the Putin-controlled Moscow.

In addition, she noted, small plaques commemorating her father on two apartment buildings — in the city of Yaroslavl, where Nemtsov served in the regional parliament, and in Moscow — were also dismantled.

"The current Russian political regime wants to eradicate the memory of my father," declared Zhanna, now a correspondent with the German TV network Deutsche-Welle, "[because] it believes — correctly — that symbols are important and can potentially facilitate and inspire change."

With Councilwoman Mary Cheh hailing Nemtsov as a "gladiator for freedom" and The Washington Post weighing in with a strong editorial endorsement, signs are strong that a sign reading "Boris Nemtsov Plaza" will sooner rather than later greet Russian diplomats and visitors to their embassy.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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It isn't often that actions of the District of Columbia's municipal government set off international tidal waves. But a move now being considered by the City Council of the nation's capital may do just that - namely, renaming a street in front of the Russian embassy for a...
Russian embassy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Boris Nemtsov Plaza, Washington, D.C., City Council, Zhanna Nemitsova
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2017-28-10
Sunday, 10 December 2017 05:28 PM
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