The Russian government released a list of 963 Americans who aren’t allowed to visit the country and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, to her surprise, is on the list.
“Somebody texted me and said, ‘congratulations for being on Putin’s hit list,’” said Cheh, who has represented Ward 3 on the council since 2007, WTOP reported.
The list was made public on Saturday and included mainly national figures such as President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, actor Morgan Freeman and many members of the Congressional Black Caucus including D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
While the Russians didn’t expound on Cheh’s ban, she speculated it had to do with her advocacy on behalf of Russian Boris Nemtsov, a political foe of the country’s president, Vladimir Putin.
Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow in 2015. Cheh said he was protesting Russia’s war with Ukraine at the time “and it was days later that he was assassinated.”
Cheh led an effort to rename a portion of Wisconsin Avenue NW in front of the Russian embassy after the slain activist. She said when flowers or other mementos would be placed in front of the embassy in Nemtsov’s honor, they were immediately removed.
The council officially renamed that portion of the avenue, Boris Nemtsov Plaza, in January 2018.
Cheh, who will retire from council service in January, said she has no plans to visit Russia.
“One of the last places on earth I would want to go to is Russia,” she told WTOP. “I get something more … I get the honor of being on Putin’s list.”