28 October 2021
On 28 September, a memorial evening was held, which was attended by everyone who knew Zhenya, who wanted to honor his memory and say goodbye…
Zhenya was one of those honest and sincere people who tried to make this world a better place with every deed, every word. He was the initiator of many socially significant initiatives, including environmental ones: garbage collection, collection of used batteries… He loved his land, his homeland, and his people with all his heart. It was from this love that he got the idea of projects to preserve samples of wooden architecture “Wooden Lace of the Volga region” and “Wooden Fairy Tale in the Stone Jungle”, supported by the Presidential Grants Fund. At the same time, Zhenya was never afraid to tell the truth, was not afraid to criticize the authorities, so he had a lot of trials, but he overcame them with dignity and remained, no matter what, a Man. About how we knew him and how we will remember him:
Irina Protasova, chairwoman of the NGO “Man and Law”:
We first met Zhenya when he applied to our organization in connection with the protection of his rights after being accused of extremism. Since then, he has become a good friend for us, we can even say that he was a volunteer for us, and we were for him, because Zhenya helped us, and we, in turn, supported his initiatives. I remember the day when, after being released from prison, Zhenya immediately came to our office. And that was more important than any words… and, of course, prison didn’t break him at all. He also courageously expressed himself, joked and continued an even more active social life, never changing himself. Life in Mari El Republic will be different without his bright statements.
Sergei Poduzov, co-chairman of the NGO “Man and Law”:
We met Zhenya at the end of 2012. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly how it happened, a lot of time has passed … I have just returned from Kyrgyzstan, where I worked as a consultant on strategic litigation for the OHCHR, and was engaged in protecting the rights of civil activists. It is significant that in the republic everything happens in cycles of 5 years: while some cases are being dealt with, others appear. And so we all witnessed how Zhenya was placed for a month in the Kazan Psychiatric Hospital for examination, which in Soviet times was used to suppress the will of dissidents. I was concerned about this. Evgeny was supposed to get out of there on 4 January, 2013, but, alas, this did not happen. Then we talked to colleagues from the Kazan Human Rights Center, explained to them the situation that a person continued to be in a psychiatric hospital for several days without a court decision. An appeal was prepared to the prosecutor’s office, which contributed to the fact that he was released with the certificate “HEALTHY”. In all stories, details are important, not just the most vivid memories. After leaving the hospital, we talked for a long time, I tried to explain the logic of the authorities’ behavior towards him, and that not everything was as simple as it seemed at first glance. But he always answered with a smile on his face that someone should try. And he went and tried to implement his ideas according to his beliefs.
And here’s another story: in March 2013, Zhenya came to the office and was annoyed that during a single picket near the Government house, police officers approached him and seized a poster and markers, in fact obstructed freedom of expression. We have prepared a complaint to the prosecutor, and he recognized the illegal actions of police officers. We decided to go to the Yoshkar-Ola City Court with a claim for compensation for moral damage; as a result, compensation in the amount of 5,000 rubles was collected in favor of Evgeny.
For almost 10 years of working with Zhenya, there have been many stories, but he and I have one unfinished case left. Now the complaint about his criminal case, in which he was convicted, fully served his term, and then because of changes in legislation, the conviction was withdrawn, is under consideration by the UN Human Rights Committee. We do not know what decision will be made, but if it is in favor of Evgeny, we will make every effort to achieve rehabilitation, despite the fact that Zhenya is no longer there.
In general, it is important to say that he was a holistic person, you need to look at the time line, and I described it a little. He was true to his beliefs and followed them, despite the great resistance of the authorities and part of society.
Olga Vasileva, friend, project manager of the NGO “Man and Law”:
I was not friends with him at the time when he gave a piece of asphalt to the mayor and stopped the governor’s motorcade on the embankment. We began to be friends when he decided that I would work with him to preserve historical and cultural monuments. He didn’t ask me much, and I’m already there, everything is already spinning, and I’m drawn, and with pleasure, into this carousel of trips, huts, Zhenya’s ideas))… In my opinion, this was the case with many. He came and decided how to dispose of your free time, strength, brains. And I didn’t want to resist, but I wanted to do it.
He did not know how to be correct, he did not know how to compromise, he did not know how to bend and be silent. He called lazy people lazy, and bureaucrats – bureaucrats. The most correct swear word I’ve heard from him was “a person with an uncertain political orientation.” He went his own way, methodically, persistently, simply and straight ahead. I saw how the supports on his bridges collapsed, he was denied help, partners were cautious, and officials closed the doors. And he went because, in fact, he always counted only on himself. He behaved the same way in his illness, and it’s somehow especially insulting…
Ekaterina Romanova, friend, accountant of the NGO “Man and Law”:
I won’t think you’re gone. I will think that you will run into our office like a hurricane, with your irrepressible energy, take a candy from the table and joke and solve a variety of issues…
In the photo below you can see an installation that Zhenya made himself and presented for the 20th anniversary of the NGO “Man and Law”. That’s how he saw the work of our organization.