The Cable

Marco Rubio Proposes Naming Street for Slain Russian Opposition Leader

Meanwhile, in Russia, an activist’s house was raided.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) has proposed legislation to name the street in front of the Russian Embassy in the United States as “Boris Nemtsov Plaza.”

Nemtsov was a prominent Russian opposition figure murdered in plain view of the Kremlin two years ago. He was 55 years old. The anniversary of his death was marked by thousands of protesters in Moscow on Sunday. Five people — all ethnic Chechens — have been charged for Nemtsov’s murder . All have pleaded not guilty.

It is still unclear whether the death is linked to the Kremlin, or whether it was an assassination carried out by Putin supporters, but not with Putin’s support. The latter is the version presented in All the Kremlin’s Men, a look at the inner workings of Putin’s Russia by Mikhail Zygar of independent outlet TV Rain.

Rubio seems to take the first view. “Putin may hope Nemtsov’s murder deters dissent,” Rubio said in a statement sent out on Monday, “but we must continue to support Russia’s pro-democracy movement so that does not happen.” The statement continues, “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. It will also help raise awareness among the American people about the ongoing abuses in Putin’s Russia.”

The move was remarked on appreciatively by Russian opposition figures on Twitter. Mikhail Kasyanov tweeted, “Senator Rubio makes a strong move.” Vladimir Kara-Murza (who believes he has been poisoned twice by Russian agents for political reasons) also tweeted out the Rubio statement.

But it seems the proposed reminder will not stop abuses in Putin’s Russia. On Tuesday, Russian journalist and human rights activist Zoya Svetova’s house was raided and searched for over six hours. Svetova is an activist with the anti-Kremlin Open Russia organization, which is run by another famous former political prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Open Russia employees’ homes were also raided in 2015, months after the still unsolved murder of Boris Nemtsov.

Photo credit: VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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