The battles for the Nemtsov Bridge
For the sake of common sense the volunteers guard the Nemtsov-Grand Moscvoretsky Bridge. They guard not just the flowers, portraits, poems and placards from vandalism, theft and desecration,but also the small piece of land in asphalt and granite where the common sense prevails in spite of tsunami of stupidity and obscurantism.
On this piece of Russian land Boris Nemtsov was murdered. For five long months this sacred span of asphalt is guarded by a small group of volunteers-just 40 people. Among them are actors, poets, doctors, teachers, engineers, programmers, some of them are already retired, others are younger than 25 years old. They all share one motive: not to allow the ones in power, to erase the memory about the murdered politician.
There were numerous attempts to destroy the memorial in past 150 days, there were multiple raids by the members if the SERB radical organisation, when flowers, placards, posters, photographs, candles and baskets of flowers, brought by supporters and followers of Nemtsov, were simply dumped into lorries and taken in an unknown direction, and the ongoing struggle with the Gormost (the city corporation that maintains the bridges) I remember how on one April evening the employee of Gormost stood on the bridge with a large black bag in which he collected all the flowers brought to the memorial. Once I had to stand and personally rescue the bouquets. It was raining, strong wind wasblowing around, and as always there was a Gormost man with a trash bag… I did not allow the bouquets to lie on the pavement, and so they would not end up in the trash I collected them. When the bouquets accumulated a mountain (because endless crowds of people brought and brought them), suddenly the other volunteers appeared. Gormost employees retreaded and we laid out a huge sign “БОРИСЬ!” (“FIGHT!”) made of flowers.
А that’s what happened in one of the night duties, when the bridge was guarded by volunteers Igor Gordeev, Pavel Kolesnikov and Liubov Sergeeva. Back then Gormost used to clean the pavement every night using sand blasting machines and chemicals. At midnight as usual, such machine appeared with a team of Gormost employees. Their supervisor told the volunteers that they interfere with cleaning of the bridge from dirt.
After that a group of man in black camouflage came up the stairs towards them. They surrounded Kolesnikov and Gordeev and began to push Sergeeva away from the flowers and portraits, which she bravely defended. In order to somehow suspend the lawlessness, Liubov she pulled out her camera and started recording, but the brave man in black tripped her up, she fell, the camera instantly flee away from her hands, and the shooting of the offenders was interrupted. She later tried to find her camera in the bridge, but never did! Unfortunately this attack was not suppressed: the memorial was completely destroyed, the bridge was denuded, the flowers and portraits were taken away as ordinary trash.
But the next day the people’s memorial was restored. Just like a phoenix it is being reborn again and again.
What awaits the people’s memorial in the future? How long will it last? How still and strong will be it’s defenders? There are no answers to these questions. Guarding the memorial and the bridge every day for long five months is s very difficult task, because one can not move away from it, not fir a minute, not for a second. It’s just like standing in the Guard of Honour day and night, and like Shiva, the many handed God, manage to do hundreds of things at once: keep order, change the flower water, answer the questions of the ones passing by, speak to the supporters if Boris Nemtsov, who came to the bridge with flowers, prevent vandalism or demonstrative disrespect to the murder site…Such a long standing and confrontation, think about it, lasts for 150 days already! That is an unprecedented case in the world history! A handful if independent volunteers, without any support from the outside, guards someone’s memorial-in rain, snow, wind, cold, heat, hurricane, in any weather while suppressing the attacks if the pseudo-patriots listening to their insults and accusations incorruption and working for the US Department of State, often risking their own health and even life for the sake of…victory of the common sense, for the peaceful future of Russia.
(the article by Lena Hades “What happens on the Bridge” was translated in English by Michael A Korobkov-De’Lagardie-Voeikov III bt)