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US Street Named after Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov

2018-01-12

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[00:00.00]
  • The local government in Washington, D.C. has approved plans to rename one of the city’s streets after Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
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  • The street is in front of the Russian embassy to the United States.
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  • Nemtsov, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was killed in 2015.
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  • Time magazine reports that Russian lawmakers have criticized the plan.
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  • On January 9, the Council of the District of Columbia passed a measure called the Boris Nemtsov Plaza Designation Act.
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  • Every member of the council voted to approve the renaming of the street "on an emergency basis."
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  • The measure renames the part of Wisconsin Avenue that is home to the Russian Embassy in honor of the opposition leader.
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  • Boris Nemtsov was a reformist politician and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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  • Nemtsov was shot and killed nearly three years ago on a bridge in Moscow.
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  • D.C. officials are seeking permission from the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Homeland Security before they make the change.
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  • Council officials said that a ceremony to set up a plaque honoring Nemtsov has been set for the third anniversary of his death on February 27.
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  • Federal legislation to rename the area along Wisconsin Avenue was first proposed in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2017.
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  • The proposal has yet to be approved.
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  • The Senate bill states that the address of the property containing the embassy, the Russian ambassador’s home and consulate would be changed to 1 Boris Nemtsov Plaza.
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  • In the past, Russian officials have expressed opposition to the renaming.
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  • However, Dimitry Peskov, a government spokesman, said it is the decision of the D.C. officials for how to name the street in front of the embassy.
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  • "This is a prerogative of the city authorities,” he said, while noting it comes at a time when relations between the two countries have been tense.
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  • Russia’s state-operated TASS news agency reported his comments.
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  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Nemtsov supporters set up an unofficial memorial in his honor on the bridge where he was shot dead.
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  • But it has been repeatedly damaged or removed by unknown individuals.
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  • Last September, a plaque honoring Nemtsov was placed on the Moscow building where the opposition leader lived.
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  • But city officials declared the plaque illegal.
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  • It was removed after less than one week by a pro-government activist group.
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  • In June, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus area of Chechnya guilty of Nemtsov's murder.
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  • It sentenced them to prison for terms between 11 to 20 years.
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  • However, Nemtsov’s relatives and other contacts believe the killing had been ordered at a higher level.
  • [04:35.64]
  • They say there will be no justice until the person or people who ordered his murdered are identified and brought to trial.
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  • Last month, Nemtsov’s daughter Zhanna Nemtsova spoke at a public hearing in Washington.
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  • She told D.C. council members that Putin's government wanted to completely remove the memory of her father.
  • [05:08.02]
  • She said the Kremlin believes correctly that symbols are important and can sometimes incite change.
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  • "This explains the nervous reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry when they first heard of the Washington, D.C., [street-naming] initiative," Nemtsova said.
  • [05:32.97]
  • I’m Lucija Millonig.
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