(GV) – Two years ago, Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister who’d become a leader of the political opposition, was shot and killed in Moscow. He was 55 years old, and four bullets to the head, heart, liver, and stomach killed him as he crossed the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, in view of the Kremlin.
On Sunday, a day before the second anniversary of Nemtsov’s murder, thousands of marched in Moscow to celebrate his life and mourn his loss. At the spot of his death, on the walkway of the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, activists have maintained a makeshift memorial, in lieu of an official plaque, which the city has refused to install. Municipal workers regularly clear out the flowers, candles, and photographs, but Nemtsov’s supporters always restore the memorial as soon as the clean-up crews have gone.
On Monday, one of Nemtsov’s four children, Zhanna Nemtsova, published a letter to her father on Facebook. Zhanna lives in Germany today, working as a reporter for Deutsche Welle. She left Russia in June 2015, saying she’d received death threats. Below is a full translation of her letter to her late father.
A letter to my father
There’s not a single day I don’t think of you. After two years, I can say with absolute certainty that you, my father, remain the central and most beloved person in my life. It was true when you were alive, and it’s still true, after your tragic death.
This loss was completely unexpected for me, and I still can’t come to terms with your death even now. It should never have happened, but it did happen. It was sudden and it was forever.
I’m not a religious person, but I nevertheless hope there will come a day when you and I can talk about all the things in the world.
But now you’re no longer with us. You had a magical power. You attracted absolutely different kinds of people, and none of it was out of necessity. It just worked out that way.
You loved to talk to people; you loved people; and you had a passion for life. Oftentimes, someone didn’t agree with you, or they didn’t approve of your work, but it never really worried you. It was the human interaction that you valued. You managed to combine something incredible: faith in principles and an understanding of people who thought and acted differently for different reasons.
Dad, I know you didn’t want it, and didn’t think you’d become a hero, but you were a hero of our time.
Your name has become the name of our country; it’s now written with your life and your blood into our history. You know how little we can do, but we’re doing everything we can to accomplish what you believed in — what they killed you for.
I want you to know (even though you doubted it) that, for me, it’s a great honor and a wonderful stroke of luck to be your daughter. And I hope that I at least partly lived up to your expectations.