In 2015, daughter of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov Zhanna announced the establishment of a new fund in honor of her father. According to her statement and the fund’s official website, the Nemtsov Fund’s main goal is to perpetuate her father’s memory, to support the movement for freedom in Russia and other countries and to develop the dialogue between Russia and Europe.

Who was Boris Nemtsov?

Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov was a Russian statesman, liberal politician, former deputy prime minister and a long-standing member of Russia’s opposition. In the 1990s, he worked together with the Russian president Boris Yeltsin and had a successful political career. Since 2000, after Vladimir Putin became the Russian leader, Nemtsov joined Russian opposition and became one of the Putin’s critics. On 25 February 2015, he was gunned down on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky bridge near the Kremlin in central Moscow.

The Boris Nemtsov Fund

Few months after Nemtsov’s murder, his eldest daughter Zhanna made a statement about organizing a Fund. In August 2015, she was awarded the Polish Foundation’s ‘Solidarity’ Prize at the amount of 250 thousand euro. At that time she said she’ll spend the money on creating the Boris Nemtsov Fund for Freedom. On 9 November 2015, the Fund was registered in Germany. Nemtsova wrote about it on Facebook

Zhanna is the only founder of the Fund. Its executive director is Olga Shorina – a member of the official committee of the Russian PARNAS party who worked together with Boris Nemtsov for a long time and was, according to Nemtsova, his ‘right hand’. In an interview with the ‘Voice of America’ in November 2015, Olga Shorina stressed that the idea of creating a fund for freedom was first announced by Nemtsov himself. ‘As far as I know, Boris Nemtsov wanted to establish a fund. He thought about it a year ago. He said, if he wouldn’t be able to return to Russia, he’ll set up a Fund abroad in order to engage people in the same activities in which he was engaged’.

Shorina claims that generating a Fund was a brilliant plan because this organization brings people together and helps to organize them for joint action. However, Zhanna Nemtsova formulated the Charter of the Fund and declared its main objectives. ‘The idea behind the foundation is to continue pursuing the goals of my father, in accordance with Russian and German laws,’ she further explained.

The official website of the Boris Nemtsov Fund also reports that the organization ‘contributes to the spread of freedom and progressive development‘. The tasks of the organization are to support education and freedom of information, to develop German-Russian dialogue, to promote European values in Russia and to preserve the memory of Boris Nemtsov. It is also committed to ‘supporting the studies of Russian society and state’. One of the long-term plans is to run an educational program for students from Russia in partnership with a European university. The foundation also presents the Nemtsov Award and organizes the Nemtsov Forum.

As mentioned above, the project was launched on the Lech Wałęsa’s grant ‘Solidarity’. But the financial matter is still one of the most problematic issues for the Fund. To sponsor it, Zhanna and Olga apply for different grants for young projects. Voluntarily donations are also possible – by clicking ‘Donate‘ on the Fund’s website. ‘We have almost no Russian money, unfortunately’, Zhanna said in the interview for a Moscow-based radio ‘Ekho Moskvy‘.

The Fund’s activity

The Boris Nemtsov Prize. Every year, the Fund presents an award to a person who is particularly committed to fighting for the freedom of expression in Russia and helping those who are persecuted on political, racial or religious grounds. The prize has a monetary value of 10 thousand euro and can be awarded to public figures, journalists, or artists. The ceremony takes place every year on the 12 June – Russian National’s Day. The winner is determined by the Commission which includes Russian public figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., who is the chairman of the Commission, Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven, director of the Moscow Bureau of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and Kara-Murza’s deputy, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russian entrepreneur and political figure, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, German politician of the liberal Free Democratic Party, Emanuelis Zingeris, Lithuanian politician, and Michael Anthony McFaul, American politician and former United States Ambassador to Russia.

Last year, the Boris Nemtsov Prize was awarded to Russian politician and publisher Lev Schlossberg. Schlossberg, 52-year-old, has been a member of the liberal opposition Yabloko party since the 1990s. He also heads its association in Pskov region. In August 2014, he published a controversial report about the secret funerals held in Pskov for Russian soldiers who, according to Schlossberg, had died in eastern Ukraine. “Freedom of expression is stipulated in the Russian constitution, but in reality, it doesn’t exist anymore,” he said on receiving the Nemtsov award.

The Boris Nemtsov Forum. The first Forum took place on the 9 of October 2016, on the birthday of Boris Nemtsov. More than 300 people attended the Forum which made it to a big event for Germany. The event was hosted by Vladimir von Eggert, a Russian journalist. Speeches were also made by Zhanna Nemtsova and Dmitry Glukhovsky, a Russian writer. Vladimir Kara-Murza presented his film named ‘Nemtsov’.

The Boris Nemtsov Fund has also announced a project to support political refugees. Today, the Fund sustains two public figures: Jenny Curpen from Finnland and Maria Noel who lives in France. Both prize holders do reviews of the political situation in Russia. However, the Fund wants to continue its development and to run more projects.

About Zhanna Nemtsova

Zhanna Nemtsova is a Russian journalist and activist. She was born on 26 March 1984 to Russian statesman Boris Nemtsov and his wife Raisa Nemtsova. She studied at the Faculty of Management of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. In Moscow, she worked for the radio station ‘Ekho Moskvy’ (Echo of Moscow) and the Russian TV channel RBC. After her father’s death in February 2015, Zhanna began to receive threats and emigrated in June 2015. Nowadays, she lives in Bonn, Germany and works for the Russian department of the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

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