Boris Nemtsov Bridge
Speech on receiving the Boris Nemtsov Foundation Prize
Bonne, 12 June, 2016
Respected Raisa Akhmetovna,
Dear friends and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Twenty-six years ago, on 12 June, 1990, the first Congress of People’s Deputies adopted the Declaration on the State Sovereignty of the RSFSR (the Russian Soviet Federated Socialistic Republic), which announced determination to establish a democratic state with a rule of law as part of the renewed Soviet Union.
Let’s read it again.
It was established that the bearer of the sovereignty and the source of state power in the RSFSR was its multinational people, and the sovereignty was proclaimed in the name of higher goals: ensuring of the inalienable right to live in dignity and free development for each person.
All citizens and stateless persons residing in the territory of the RSFSR were guaranteed the rights and freedoms envisaged by the Constitution of the RSFSR, the USSR Constitution and universally recognised norms of the international law.
The Declaration guaranteed to all citizens, political parties, public organisations, mass movements and religious organisations equal legal opportunities to participate in the governing of the state and social affairs.
It was announced that the division of the legislative, the executive and the judicial authorities was an essential principle in the functioning of the RSFSR as a stated governed by law.
The RSFSR declared its commitment to the universally recognised principles of the international law and its willingness to live in peace and harmony with all other countries and peoples.
Launch of the constitutional reform and development of the new Constitution of the RSFSR was announced.
It was a time of hope, time to get rid of the political monopoly, liberation from fear, time of awakening for the new era, which was expected to bring the key thing – FREEDOM.
We all became part of a broad democratic movement, and we absolutely believed in its strength and success. A phrase that united all of us were the words DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA.
We became its builders.
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A quarter of a century later, we live in a completely different country, where all these big words are written on paper only, all these rights are ensured by the Constitution, but life is developing in a completely different way – the way of UNFREEDOM.
The struggle for freedom in such a country can cost lives.
On 27 February, 2015, Boris Nemtsov was killed in Moscow, near the Kremlin. It was a purely political murder. Boris Nemtsov was killed because of his political convictions and his public civic stance.
The sole purpose of the customers of this crime was to silence Nemtsov. Because the word of a free man is the most terrible thing for the state of unfreedom, lies and violence.
This murder will be fully investigated only in a free Russia. An honest verdict in this case may be imposed only by an independent court, which is missing in our country today.
It is often said that it is impossible to come to freedom without victims. I disagree with this. Freedom needs work, courage, stubbornness and persistence, patience, energy, faith in our strength, respect for the person. And this may be enough.
Victims on the road to freedom occur when violence becomes the main language of communication of the state with its citizens.
Boris Nemtsov did not make a choice between life and death. He was a free man in a non-free country. And the guardsmen of the unfreedom decided to take his life. In their barbaric understanding this corresponded to the interests of the modern Russian state. Their notions of courage were reduced to shots in the back.
Relatives and friends of Boris Nemtsov decided that his memory should be active. This is a difficult decision, which causes great respect, because work in his memory means selfless devotion.
Every year the Boris Nemtsov Prize will be reminding everyone of his death. In a higher sense it will always be a reproach to those living. Human life is of supreme value for a free society and a democratic state. If we could turn history back, then the only decent reason for this would be salvation of those who lost their lives. But even God can not do it.
What is left for us is only the active memory.
The active memory can help those who are alive.
It can fight for peace and oppose war, it can stop violence and protect people.
The active memory is the continuation of the life.
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A lot has happened in our country after the death of Boris Nemtsov. I consider it my duty to say today about the memorial to Boris Nemtsov on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, which has become an example of daily civil resistance to the state oblivion and forgetfulness.
Forgetfulness is one of the conditions of unfreedom. People who have now occupied the Russian state, need Boris Nemtsov be forgotten. They want, first and foremost, his death, the place itself in full view of the Kremlin, which suddenly has become the second [historic] place of execution in the centre of Moscow, be forgotten. This place on the bridge has become a symbol of the whole of modern Russian politics, when the Kremlin is in a stone’s throw, but there is nobody to protect a man, and there are four steps to the death.
But you can not leave this bridge.
We came to such a point in the history of our country, when the authorities categorically disagree to call a bridge in one capital [Moscow] in the name of [Boris Nemtsov] a killed citizen who fought against the war and was killed in the war, without spilling anyone’s blood, but they are ready to call the bridge in the other capital [St.Petersburg] in the name of another killed person [first President of Chechnya Akhmat Kadyrov] whose hands were coated with blood of many victims of the war.
The one who fought for peace, including [his protests against the war that was held] twenty-three years ago [in Chechnya], did not deserve, according to the Russian authorities, a state memory. And the one who was part of the war, including twenty-three years ago [in Chechnya], did deserve it. This is the evidence of the death of the Russian political authorities.
Only two members of the State Duma of Russia honored the memory of Boris Nemtsov by standing up [during the Duma session] on the first anniversary of his death a year later.
Such is the abyss between the government and the people in our country today.
Boris Nemtsov tried to bridge this gap.
He could not cross this bridge to the end.
We have to do it.
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I am extremely touched by the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation. Now I am facing the problem how to dispose of the Foundation’s prize. The prize should work for the civil society, for freedom and democracy in our country.
Today, I am announcing that the money of the prize will be donated to Team 29, a human rights civil group of young lawyers, headed by Ivan Pavlov.
We together appealed to the Supreme Court of Russia against Vladimir Putin’s decree to classify military casualties in peacetime, caused, in our opinion, by the undeclared Russia-Ukraine war. This team succeeded that criminal proceedings against Svetlana Davydova were ended, they defend Natalia Sharina, political prisoner and Director of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, as well as political prisoner Gennady Kravtsov, they defended Lyudmila Savchuk, they defend Nadezhda Kutepova and the group of teenage diggers.
These young people are defenders of law from lawlessness, defenders of citizens from the arbitrariness of the state. They work for freedom and democracy in our country. I entrust them the Boris Nemtsov Foundation Prize. The report on the spending of the award will be public.
The number 29 in the name of the team does not symbolise their age, albeit these people are very young. This the article in the Russian Constitution, according to which:
– Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of ideas and speech.
– The propaganda or agitation instigating social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife shall not be allowed. The propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or language supremacy shall be banned.
– No one may be forced to express his views and convictions or reject them.
– Everyone shall have the right to freely look for, receive, transmit, produce and distribute information by any legal way. The list of data comprising state secrets shall be determined by a federal law.
– The freedom of mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be banned.
All this started in our country on 12 June, 1990.
Boris Nemtsov lived and worked for this.
We succeeded to make this in the Constitution, but not in real life, unfortunately.
But we will not stop.
We will go further, crossing this bridge, starting exactly from the point where the barbarians and cowards stopped Boris Nemtsov.
Freedom is stronger than unfreedom. It is passed along and shared in an intangible way overcoming the limits of human life.
The breath of freedom destroys the walls of unfreedom.
When a person breathes freedom, it is impossible to defeat him.
I believe that the Boris Nemtsov Foundation Prize will be awarded in Russia, because Russia will be free.
Thank you very much.
First published on http://lev-shlosberg.livejournal.com/1010604.html