By Katya Kazbek
Let me tell you about a remarkable woman who passed away today in Russia. Her name was Valeria Novodvorskaya, and, I’m sure you’ve never heard of her. But it’s a loss, really, because this woman started riots long before they could go viral and she kicked major ass when Wendy Davis was only in pre-school. In 1969, 19-year old Valeria came to the Kremlin Palace of Congresses (the place where the Communist Party of USSR held all their conventions) to distribute leaflets with her own poems that opposed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. For this bold move she was arrested and placed in a psychiatric ward for ‘sluggish schizophrenia’ — the fake diagnosis that was used by the KGB to subdue dissidents. When Valeria finally walked free, she was 22 and her hair had turned grey.
In the following years, Valeria’s circumstances altered and but she never ceased fighting against the regime. Unfortunately for her, and for all of us, the regimes changed but this change never served to alleviate the suffering of the people. Valeria was a strong advocate of Chechnya’s independence, a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, and was said to have survived 9 counts of dry hunger strikes. I can’t say that I agreed with Valeria on every single issue — no, far from it. But I’ve always tried to pay attention to what she was saying ever since my father pointed at Valeria speaking on TV when I was about 8 and told me that she was the most intelligent woman in Russia. Even now, two decades later, it’s kind of hard to counter that.
Today Valeria died of toxic shock at the age of 64. I’m not going to speculate about the government’s involvement in this, we can’t know anything for sure anymore. But I really want for this truly great woman’s death to not go unnoticed. She was a brave, honest person who never failed to fight for the truth as she saw it. She was the most tender daughter — acquaintances claim she would immediately call her mother whenever she arrived to work, just to let her know she was ok. She was by her own admission asexual, – and never gave a flying fuck about the media never failing to make fun of her for that, or for her standard-defying beauty, because, you know, professional journalism. She was a delight, she was a powerhouse, and for me, growing up, she was a real feminist hero. May she rest in peace.
Source: Katya Kazbek’s FB