Staunton, February 12 – In what some may view as a “symmetrical” response to US decision to rename the street in front of the Russian embassy in the American capital for the murdered opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, a Duma deputy is urging and Moscow city may consider giving the US embassy there a new address: “North American Cul de Sac, No. 1.”
The Russian word tupik is usually translated as “cul de sac,” but it can also be rendered as “a dead end” – and it is entirely possible that Mikhail Degtaryev, a member of the Vladimir Zhinirovsky’s often flamboyant LDPR party, had that meaning in mind instead. The city government promises to take up his proposal this month (tass.ru/politika/4949885).
Renaming streets in front of embassies has been part of the Moscow-Washington relationship before. In 1984, the US renamed the portion of 16th Street in front of the USSR embassy “Andrey Sakharov Plaza,” in honor of the Soviet human rights campaigner. Initially, the Soviets were outraged; but later, some Soviet diplomats took pride in that name.
It seems unlikely that any American diplomats will have a similar reaction to what Moscow may do now. Instead, they may insist as Russian diplomats in Washington are now that whatever the authorities choose to call the street in front of their embassy, they will continue to use the old address – and expect the host governments to respect their choices.