Activist guarding a makeshift memorial to Boris Nemtsov dies after attack by pro-Putin thug

Several days after being attacked while guarding the makeshift memorial to Boris Nemtsov at the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, Ivan Skripnichenko has died, a fellow activist told the website Mediazona.

On the evening of August 15, Skripnichenko was reportedly guarding the memorial, which is regularly dismantled by city cleanup crews and pro-Kremlin thugs, when an unidentified man approached him and tried to speak to him. When Skripnichenko turned away, the man allegedly punched him in the nose. According to the blogger Ilya Varlamov, other activists overheard the assailant shout, “What, you don’t like Putin or something?”

Doctors later diagnosed Skripnichenko with a broken nose. He was discharged at first, but hospitalized again a few days later “to correct complications related to the fracture.”

On August 23, Skripnichenko died. Autopsy results are still unavailable, but “he likely died from a pulmonary embolism,” one of Skripnichenko’s fellow activists told Mediazona.

Since Boris Nemtsov’s assassination in February 2015, supporters have guarded and maintained a makeshift memorial in his honor. Activists have lobbied but failed to persuade the city to erect an official monument to Nemtsov. On YouTube, there is footage of Skripnichenko explaining how city cleanup workers removed all the memorial’s flowers on the night of May 1.

Boris Nemtsov was one of the most prominent Russian politicians of the 1990s and 2000s. After serving as governor of the Nizhniy Novgorod region from 1991-1997, he was at one time vetted as President Boris Yeltsin’s potential successor. Nemtsov was also a long-time leader of the liberal Soyus Pravykh Sil (Union of Right Forces). Nemtsov was shot and killed on February 27, 2015, while crossing Moscow’s Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge.

For more on the verdict against Nemtsov's apparent killers