One Year: Vladimir Kara-Murza Reflects On Loss Of Friend Boris Nemtsov

In Moscow, it’s already the morning of February 27, a day forever associated with the shocking assassination of Boris Nemtsov exactly one year ago. Commemorations are planned around the world, in over 60 cities, the largest one to take place in a few hours in Moscow.

On this sad and difficult first anniversary, Nemtsov’s close friend and colleague Vladimir Kara-Murza, himself a victim of a recent murder attempt, wrote a moving reflection on the Open Russia website. It conveys the tremendous loss felt by Nemtsov friends, the lingering ache for what might have been, and the continuing commitment to his memory and work for the future of Russia.  Below is a full translation.


They say that time heals.

It’s not true. A year has passed since that horrible damn night, yet it seems like only yesterday. The hours of that day play out in my head in slow motion, having forever changed my life into “before” and “after.”

I woke up early that day in Tomsk (we had an event the night before). It was dark by the time I arrived at the airport in Moscow. I rode the rest of the way by train from Sheremetevo. I went to the Duma, to Gudkov. His wife Lera was there, his assistant Sasha Solovjev, and Vadim Prokhorov walked in. We sat with Dima in the office, laughing, having a drink. It was Friday night, and the weekend was before us.

B.E. [Boris Efimovich] and I exchanged messages: “Kum [godfather], are we meeting tomorrow around 6 in the evening?” “That’s fine.” “Until tomorrow.” We had been trying to plan to meet, but somehow couldn’t make it happen. Either he was out of town or I was. Finally, we were both in Moscow, and we agreed to meet on Saturday, the 28th.

I still haven’t erased this exchange. “That’s fine.” “Until tomorrow.” February 27, 2015. 23:06.

I have few really close friends. The kind you can share anything with, ask for advice (he’s helped me often), to say what you wouldn’t even tell your wife. Reliable. Very warm. Very bright and sincere. At the same time complex, emotional, sometimes vulnerable, not at all that “glossy” image he was painted with for so many years. He always knew how to be supportive, to infect you with optimism, even when it was hard for him.

The kind of friend who was always nearby, even when he was physically far away. He was always, no matter what, only a phone call away.

A friend forever. I know that I will always check in mentally with him, and ask how he would do it. When it is so hard to ask for advice. I know that he will answer. From there, from above. He’ll figure out a way.

And when my daughter grows up, I will tell her about her godfather, about whom she only remembers that he gave her dolls as gifts and slept on our couch. I’ll tell her who he might have become if our country hadn’t once again taken the wrong path…

Sometimes, when I was feeling particularly sad, I’d ask him, “Kum, we’ll live to see this all end, right?” He always answered the same way: “For sure, you will see that day.”

We will live to see that day. And we will name that bridge for him. And the street will have a monument. But the best way to honor his memory will be the Russia that he wanted. A Russia like him. A kinder Russia, a more honest and more humane Russia. In which there won’t be so much meanness, so many lies or so much aggression. That day will come. It will definitely come. As he liked to say, “We can do it all.”


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