Russia and America have resurrected one of their favourite Cold War games, renaming streets to inflict maximum embarrassment and tweak each other’s dignity.
Moscow’s city government announced on Monday that it will examine a request to change the address of the US embassy in Moscow to 1 North American Dead-end.
The proposal appears to be a tit for tat measure after Washington’s city council last month changed the name of the block housing the Russian embassy to 1 Boris Nemtsov Plaza, after the opposition politician who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015.
The change went down well in some quarters of the US capital amid allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the US election but provoked anger in Moscow.
It went down less well in Moscow, where suspicions linger that the five hitmen who were jailed for Nemtsov’s murder were patsies and the mastermind had gone free.
Mr Putin’s spokesman complained that the renaming came at a time when relations “between the two countries still leave much to be desired, mildly speaking.”
It follows months of diplomatic hostility. Last year Russia demanded that staffing at US diplomatic facilities be reduced from about 1200 to fewer than 500, while the US demanded the closure of Moscow’s consulate in San Francisco and two recreation facilities.
The US embassy’s current postal address in Moscow is 8 Bolshaya Devyatinsky Lane.
Mikhail Degtyaryov, a right-wing Russian politician who proposed the new name, confirmed on Twitter that his suggestion was to be taken up later this month.
Names were a frequent tool of passive aggressive diplomacy during the Cold War.
In the 1980s, Congress renamed the street in front of the Russian ambassador’s residence in honour of Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident.
More recently, Congress proposed renaming the street that houses the Chinese Embassy to remember Liu Xiaobo, the government critic and Nobel laureate who died last year.
Other nations have followed suit.
The mayor of Ankara wants to name the US embassy’s street after the Turkish military offensive that has driven a wedge between the two countries. Nevzat Tandogan Street would become Olive Branch Street under the plan.