Support The Moscow Times!

Yes, Moscow Is Still Trying to Erase the City's Makeshift Nemtsov Memorial

Johnny Silvercloud / CC 2.0

With almost two years of practice under its belt, it’s no surprise that the city of Moscow has become enormously efficient about how it trashes the flowers, candles, and portraits regularly left at an unofficial memorial on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, at the spot of Boris Nemtsov’s assassination in February 2015.

This Wednesday, Russian Internet users shared footage of one of the most recent sweeps, showing a whole team of city workers grabbing everything in sight, and then tossing it into the back of a truck. At the end of the video, a man dressed in civilian clothes then chases down the cameraman, apparently attacking him.

Police raids at “Nemtsov Bridge” are an ordinary occurrence.

Last Friday, Jan. 27, two officers detained one of the memorial’s “watchman,” Andrei Margulev, who was standing guard over the flowers, pictures, and candles overnight, according to the website Margulev, who says one of the officers seemed to be drunk, was then processed at a local police station, while city workers “cleaned” the memorial.

Two weeks earlier, police detained two activists guarding the memorial at the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, while workers trashed all the flowers, photos, and candles left to honor Nemtsov.

In 2015, following the Moscow government’s refusal to establish a memorial at the site of Nemtsov’s murder, the slain politician’s supporters built networks to maintain a makeshift shrine, regularly stocked with flowers, pictures, and candles. To this day, the city regularly sends police and cleanup crews to remove everything, after which the activists almost immediately restore the memorial.

Despite the evident futility of the city’s efforts, there is no sign that this routine will change anytime soon.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.