Early on July 9, digital pioneer Anton Nossik passed away. One of the founders and visionaries who helped build some of the Russian Internet’s most significant projects, Nossik was an intellectual, a publicist, a philanthropist, and a public figure. Anton was also our colleague, mentor, and friend. He didn’t participate in the creation of Meduza, but we discussed with him the idea for a new media project at our earliest stages, in the spring of 2014. For all of us at Meduza, Nossik was probably the single most important person on the Russian Internet; we consider him to be the founding father of Russian Internet journalism. Meduza’s chief executive officer, Galina Timchenko, managed Lenta.ru for ten years, from 2004 to 2014, heading the outlet immediately after Nossik. At our newsroom’s request, she remembers her friend and former chief editor.
“No, you’re wrong: I’m not the smartest. I just think fast, while you, my dear, are lazy and incurious,” you told me long ago, Anton.
I wasn’t lazy or incurious. I was just a terrified beginner and the word “Internet” meant almost nothing to me, just like your name, when they first introduced me to you. But we were both right: your mind always worked very quickly, and it worked better than anyone’s.
Later, they’d call you the Russian Internet’s founding father — its orbital center. How did that happen? Working 18-20-hour days, sleeping at your keyboard, eating on the run, and again work, work, work. It was impossible to keep up with you. You made demands, you bombarded the newsroom with messages, you shouted and laid into people, you chewed people out and put your foot down, you reigned over us and remade us. You found the time to do ten times more than we, your staff, ever did. You never stopped.
You gave me a profession — a career and a way of interacting with the world. You said, “I’m not interested in a war scenario. Let’s think up a peace scenario.”
You were absolutely indifferent to what people thought about you. You taught me not to be afraid, not to fear responsibility: “My dear, being a boss doesn’t demand any special skills. Once you work up the courage to make decisions and bear responsibility for them, you’re off and rolling.”
You parted easily with ideas, money, and work, but never with people. I was furious at your endless tolerance, how you built friendships with anyone and everyone. You were unjust and merciful. You were a vicious polemicist and a charming windbag. The new transparency of the Internet Age didn’t frighten you a bit. Hundreds of thousands of your followers on social media knew about your every trip, new acquaintance, and culinary habit.
Everywhere you went, you carried a wad of keys and no less than five different gadgets, all shoved into whatever pockets you had. I could call you on the phone at any hour. You found time to work, to manage a charity, give lectures, travel, consult, go to concerts, and raise a son.
You never stopped.
You made Gazeta.ru, Lenta.ru, Vesti; you helped make Newsru.com and BFM; you worked for Rambler, LiveJournal, Medportal, and dozens of other publications; you organized the charitable foundation Pomogi.org; and you opened us all to the Internet. You found time for everything. Thank you so much, you dear man.
Meduza expresses its sincere and deepest condolences to Anton Nossik’s family and friends, and to all the people who can’t imagine the Russian Internet without him. We are with you.