On 8th April 2013 a heroic figure died. One who should be mourned and remembered but who, more than likely, will be forgotten while those who should be forgotten will be remembered. This is the kind of historic injustice that still go on. Just as March 5th 1953 will be remembered for the death of Stalin and not of Prokofiev; April 8th 2013 will alas go down in history as the day that Margaret Thatcher died and not the tragic day that Mikhail Beketov died. Even in his native Russia his death was somewhat overshadowed by that of Margaret Thatcher. Let alone elsewhere.
Why should we all mourn him? Because in many ways he represented a fight to preserve in his locality everything that Thatcher did her best to destroy in her country. He was the Russian Antigone to Thatcher’s Creon and tirelessly fought the real politik of contemporary capitalism. To mourn Beketov is to mourn those who have tried find us all an alternative. To mourn Beketov instead of Thatcher is to celebrate those whose value is life and not death, those who celebrate common joys instead of greed and egotism. To mourn Beketov is to celebrate those who believe profit comes last and joy comes first. Beketov didn’t rejoice at the deaths of hundreds of conscript sailors in icy South American waters, didn’t allow hunger strikers to die, didn’t condemn thousands to lives on the streets, didn’t willfully destroy people’s livelihoods, didn’t consort with and abet mass murderers from Pinochet to the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. He simply campaigned against the destruction of a local forest. For that he was so badly beaten (after having his dog killed as a warning shot) that he lost four fingers, his right leg and suffered brain damage. Five years later as a result of these injuries he died. He died on the same day as that figure who would sacrifice people’s lives for profit, who was willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of conscript sailors to ensure her political survival, who would use the police as an instrument to beat and bludgeon those who fought for their livelihoods or stoke racist sentiments to get elected and who would intervene to save the careers of police commissioners imbued with the values of Westboro Baptist Church.
So let’s not mourn Thatcher. Mourn Beketov instead. Let’s remember those who fought, however faraway, against those very values which Thatcher represented.