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Ceremony Outside Russian Embassy to Mark Street Renaming After Slain Putin Foe

Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin lays flowers and candles at the place where Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down, next to the Kremlin Wall, in Moscow on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

WASHINGTON — Marking the third anniversary of his murder in the shadow of the Kremlin, starting Tuesday Russian Embassy officials will have to go to work each day on a D.C. street named after opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

In January, the D.C. City Council voted to rename the street in front of the Russian Embassy after the slain opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the move “a symbolic recognition of the memory of Boris Nemtsov” and a signal of D.C.’s “commitment to democracy.”

Over a year ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to designate the area between the intersections of Wisconsin Avenue NW and Davis Street NW, and Wisconsin Avenue NW and Edmunds Street NW in Washington as “Boris Nemtsov Plaza.” After Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) blocked the Rubio-Coons bill in December, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she was not “aware” of an administration stance on the matter.

Rubio will be among the speakers in front of the embassy as the renamed street is unveiled in a Tuesday noontime ceremony. Google already reflects the new street name.

Other members of Congress will also be there, along with D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Nemtsov’s family and friends who are traveling to Washington from Russia for the unveiling.

Attendees will include dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, a close associate of Nemtsov and vice chairman of the pro-democracy group Open Russia who has survived two poisonings in two years.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and co-chairman of the Republican Party of Russia-People’s Freedom Party, regularly called out Putin for Kremlin corruption and openly speculated that Putin would one day try to kill him.

On the evening of Feb. 27, 2015, Nemtsov was shot to death just steps from the Kremlin and Red Square as he crossed a Moscow bridge. He was 55 years old.

“As a leading figure of Russia’s democratic movement, a former Russian regional governor, and an energy minister as well as a deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov committed his life to public service and the goal of a freer and more prosperous Russia. His memory continues to inspire the Russian people and many others around the world to engage in the difficult and sometimes dangerous struggle for just, democratic, and accountable government,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said today in a statement.

“As we honor the memory of Boris Nemtsov’s life and work, we renew our call on the government of Russia to uphold its obligations to promote and protect universal human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association,” she said. “We again urge the Russian government to ensure that all involved in this crime, including those who organized or ordered it, are brought to justice.”

Russians marched in remembrance of Nemtsov over the weekend.