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Story highlights

The new measure will rename a stretch of Wisconsin Avenue to 1 Boris Nemtsov Plaza

Nemtsov, a political activist, was killed in February 2015 near the Kremlin

(CNN) —  

Washington’s city council has unanimously passed a measure to rename the street in front of the Russian Embassy after Boris Nemtsov, a pro-democracy activist and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The city council specified in a statement that the passage had been done “on an emergency basis (pending passage of permanent legislation).”

The bill will symbolically rename the stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in front of the embassy to 1 Boris Nemtsov Plaza, adding that name to the street sign.

Nemtsov was shot and killed on a bridge near the Kremlin in February 2015, while walking home with his girlfriend.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested the street name change further illustrated division between the US and Russia.

“I would probably have left this without comment, stressing only that it is up to the city authorities at the time but at a time when the state of bilateral relations between our two countries still leaves much to be desired, to put it mildly,” he said.

A proposal to rename the street after Nemtsov was first brought up by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, in Congress, but they were unsuccessful.

This isn’t the first time a Russian Embassy’s address has been honorarily renamed. In 1987, street signs outside the then-Soviet Embassy were changed to include the moniker of Andrei Sakharov, a Soviet human rights activist who had been placed under internal exile.

Andrei Sakharov Plaza encompassed the one-block area that is now where the Russian ambassador’s residence stands.

CNN’s Miranda Green and Emma Burrows contributed to this report.