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Elena Pulkkinen said that the world has lost a good, honest man: Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader who was murdered in Moscow on Friday. Elena joined the memorial of Nemtsov at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki on Saturday, February 28 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

She walked restlessly in the drizzle around the iron fence of the Russian Embassy, which bathed in the candlelight at Tehtaankatu in Helsinki on Saturday evening at around eight thirty.

She was holding two candles, which illuminated the tears in her eyes.

“I am sad,” she said with a shivering voice and introduced her as Elena Pulkkinen, a Russian immigrant in her 50s from Oulunkylä, who arrived together with her husband, Matti, to the memorial of the murdered Russian opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov.

Nemtsov was one of the biggest Russian opposition leaders, shot in cold blood next to the Kremlin wall late on Friday evening in Moscow.

“I think he was an honest man, we appreciate him and we are sad because he was a man who said the right things,” Elena said.

“Today we are standing here, very close to other people who know what is happening in Russia.”


The iron fence of the Russian Embassy was bathing in candlelight. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

There were about a hundred other mourners who held candles and flowers which were laid at the fence.

‘Nemtsov (1959-2015) was a tireless fighter for the people, a man, who opposed corruption and war,’ said an obituary flapping in the mild wind and rain against the iron bars, inviting the people to join the memorial.

A picture of Nemtsov was illuminated by the warm yellow light of the memorial candles, which fanned a smoky smell of stearin and blended to the scent of the roses of dark red, which were piled at the fence in a plastic bag.


Elina Gusatinsky, the editor-in-chief of the Russian newpspaper Spektr, grieved among about a hundred people at the memorial of Nemtsov. The memorial was organised by the Finnish chapter of PEN, an international association of writers and editors. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Irina Trygub, 39, a citizen of Finland and Ukraine from Vuosaari, was standing next to her two friends from Russia and Estonia.

“This was a tragedy,” Irina said.

She heard from the murder from her friends on the internet and it was very late on Friday night.

“I couldn’t sleep until three in the morning because I couldn’t believe anything like this could happen.”

One seldom actually believes such tragedies become a reality, but many had said the murder could happen because Nemtsov was the leader of the opposition, Irina continued.

When Irina was younger, Nemtsov was known as a very bright personality, the right hand of the former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. Nemtsov was a young, energetic person – an image for the new Russia.

“That is why I have taken this as a personal tragedy.”

At 20:40 only a few people were still standing on the wet street of Tehtaankatu.

The yellow sea of candles made the iron fence glow as if it was the Golden Gates.

You could see the picture of Boris Nemtsov illuminated and the text below him:

‘At first we have to give up the current police state and return the human value to the people. The rule of law must be returned, as well as the freedom of speech and the right to vote and the right to become a candidate in the elections. An independent judiciary must be founded in our country, which guarantees the rights of the private citizens and the corporations.’

-Boris Nemtsov y. 2009

Tony Öhberg