Sun, 05 Apr 2020

Prague's city council has approved the renaming of a square where the Russian Embassy is located after slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

The council voted on the measure on February 24, changing Pod Kastany Square to Boris Nemtsov Square. The name will officially change on February 27 -- the fifth anniversary of Nemtsov's killing.

It also approved naming a promenade in a city park after Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in 2006.

'With this gesture, Prague will join several other metropolises, which are highlighting the plight of the political situation in Russia today,' the council said in its motion.

The moves were supported by all of the major parties represented on the council.

'Both personalities promoted democracy and they both were disgracefully murdered. They deserve a memorial,' Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib said on Twitter.

The renaming of locations to honor opposition figures, or to move on from Soviet-era memorials, has ruffled feathers in Moscow.

In recent months, the Russian Embassy in Prague has complained about moves by municipal authorities in the capital over similar moves.

Prague district councillors voted in September 2019 to remove a statue of wartime Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev, which had been defaced several times.

Some view Konev, whose forces liberated much of Czechoslovakia's territory in World War II, as an enforcer of Soviet rule in Central and Eastern Europe for the roles he played after the conflict.

Another Prague district voted in December to erect a memorial to the so-called Vlasov Army, a small force that some Czechs say did more to retake Prague than the Soviet Army did -- a force led by Andrei Vlasov, a man some Russian historians say was a Nazi sympathizer.

In February 2018, Boris Nemtsov Plaza was officially unveiled outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, followed by a similar move in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

А former deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, and had sought to build a viable opposition movement. He was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin in February 2015.

In July 2017, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya guilty of Nemtsov's murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.

But Nemtsov's relatives and associates believe his killing was ordered at a higher level, and say justice will not be served until the person or people behind it are identified and prosecuted.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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