Lev Ponomarev: “Zhenya Ikhlov has died. I have lost a part of myself”

posted 14 Jun 2019, 13:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Jun 2019, 14:01 ]
6 June 2019

Zhenya Ikhlov has died. A man who was closely connected to us for 30 years, since the time of Democratic Russia – he was a member of the coordinating committee of the DemRossiya movement, and then almost the entire staff of the ZPCh [Za prava cheloveka] human rights movement; the head of the expert council and the press centre; but most importantly, my main adviser in the movement.

He was a part of my brain. This doesn’t mean I always agreed with him. We often argued, and sometimes I had difficulty overcoming his resistance in order to make a decision. But when he agreed with me, he broadened my view. His arguments were always interesting.

I haven’t met many geniuses, but in my opinion Zhenya was one of them. You might say he was an unrecognised genius, but then the genius is not always the one who gets the recognition. He amazed me with his quick mind, instant reactions, excellent memory and wide knowledge. He was able to draw on historical analogies to support his position with ease.

Many people on the internet are writing about Zhenya’s contribution to journalism. Indeed, he had this talent, in combination with a fierce temperament. Consequently his articles were characterised by high emotion, and forced people to react emotionally. His ideas tumbled over themselves, and he could even contradict himself. But he was always in the first rank of liberal opposition journalists.

But this is only part of his contribution to public life. For all of the thirty years I knew him, I witnessed his hard work. You could say he did not just a double but a triple or quadruple job: he was the author or my co-author of the majority of ZPCh's reports and the Congress of Intelligentsia projects, and a defence lawyer in the civil courts. He had no special legal education, but this did not hinder his success in the courts and in significant public campaigns carried out by ZPCh. He did all this with the same enthusiasm with which he wrote his articles.

I loved Zhenya Ikhlov; we were great friends. For me, his death means losing not just a friend, but part of myself. This is a huge loss for the entire ZPCh movement. As if a part of us has been cut away.

A memorial service for Evgeny Ikhlov was held on the morning of Saturday 8 June at the Sakharov Centre in Moscow.

Lev Ponomarev

Photo of Evgeny Ikhlov: Za prava cheloveka

Translated by Anna Bowles