institute of europe
the institute of europe of the russian academy of sciences

In memory of my friend

  • 18 June 2016
On June 18, Nikolay Shmelev, who passed away almost two years ago, would have celebrated his 80th birthday. The grief of the loss continues to stay with his dear ones, friends, readers and colleagues. Kolya (more than fifty years of our friendship give me the liberty to call him so) was a unique representative of the “Sixties generation”, who lived long enough to witness perestroika and was one of those who preserved his ideals until the end of his life. Almost uniquely, he did not concede to the lure of market economy and did not embark upon the ruinous way of acquisitiveness and vanity.
The last years were especially difficult for him, as the state policy towards the Russian Academy was used on a number of occasions to dismantle the organization, to which he served for all of his life. Addressing some of the so-called reformers he often used the word «cheaters», citing the song «Without Women» of his favorite Alexander Vertinsky: «When your partners are cheaters, you just cannot quit the game». Then he used to sigh sadly, adding: «This will end one day». Regretfully, we still have to keep this hope alive and meanwhile to continue to play this game.  
If he had still been with us, by four o’clock in the evening, all the formal and yet sincere congratulation ceremonies would have been over. Kolya would have been with his close and time-tested friends, many of whom, to our regret, already left us as well. We would have toasted to his health. Today we are raising our glasses as though he is alive, as the real friendship does not know the subjunctive mood. We may still not realize that with Kolya’s departure we lost a part of ourselves. But thinking of him, and following his testaments, we continue to talk to him, love him and remember him.

Mikhail Nosov