Last week AHF Russia honored the memory of Nikolay Nedzelskiy, a prominent Russian AIDS pioneer and activist who was the first to bring the AIDS Quilt to his homeland, on the 40th day following his passing in August.
According to the Russian tradition, 40 days after the death of a person, family and friends gather to share memories and remember his life. This date is called the “fortieth.”
Nikolay’s Facebook page is filled with messages like these from friends and comrades around the world, closest of whom called him Kolya:
“…Kolya’s life was a true service,”
“…He was a beacon of strength and purpose for people throughout Russia and around the world. He stood for truth and justice always, even when those values were unpopular or inconvenient for others,”
“…Nikolay defined an era,”
“…He worked harder than anyone else to push back and conquer HIV/AIDS and the stigma and discrimination that come with it…”
The impact that Nikolay has had on HIV activism and community development in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia since the mid-90s cannot be overstated. In addition to bringing the AIDS Quilt exhibition to Russia, he organized the first community center in Moscow, counseled thousands of people living with HIV (PLWH), and trained hundreds of peer counselors.
He designed exclusive trainings aimed at community mobilization and advocacy to educate the PLWH community how to fight for their right.
All these activities gave rise to a stunning galaxy of professionals and helped the PLWH community in Russia to recognize their needs. Largely thanks to Nikolay, the PLWH community in Russia started to fight against stigma and discrimination, for their rights to treatment and care.
AHF, through its programs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia continues to advocate for the improvement of quality of life for the PLWH in the region. Kolya’s passing is a personal loss for many of our team members here — those whom Kolya mentored, counseled and helped.
AHF expresses deepest condolences to Nikolay’s relatives and friends and commemorates his invaluable and selfless service on behalf of people living with HIV.