Jon Hellevig, RIP

Editor’s note: I chatted with Jon just weeks before he would pass away. He submitted a story for the site, and I created an account for him so he could do so even more easily in the future, but it was not to be as he was unexpectedly taken away from us almost right after.

I read his in-depth economic analyses on Russia for years, and probably you did too, perhaps the reproductions I posted to Russia Insider when I was there, and since then to this site.

He was a great friend of the Russian people and invaluable to the Russian-watching community for his knowledge, energy and instincts alike

He was optimistic and passionate about Russia’s fortunes, and in his last days he was upset and nervous that Russia had committed a great error in opting for a lockdown, but  he comforted himself with his analysis that Russia nonetheless did not inflict as much lockdown damage on itself as some of the countries.

Rest in peace, Jon, you are missed.

Jon Hellevig, a well-known and respected lawyer, economics expert and policy commentator on many continents, died in his hometown of Moscow on May 26, 2020.

It is our sad duty to inform the audience that international expert, political commentator, author, journalist and a philosopher Jon Hellevig, died of a seizure 26th May 2020 in his Hometown Moscow.

Jon Hellevig had sought treatment for heart complications shortly before his death. Jon hadn’t fallen ill.

Jon Hellevig was a prominent thinker, financial expert, journalist and philosopher. He was an internationally influential Finn who appeared as a commentator, e.g. In the Chinese and Russian media, and had a wide circle of friends on all continents. The proverb “no one is a prophet in his own country” is well suited to Hellevig.

Jon mourned the departure of Ilja Janitskin, who died on February 7, 2020 . At the news of his death, Hellevig published the following poem in memory of Ilja and linked the attached video to it.

UMV magazine takes part in the grief of Joni and Ilja’s relatives. Jon and Ilja had to suffer to keep the word free. Thanks to them, there is still freedom of speech. Jon and Ilja are now together, on the better side and watching us. Let us be worthy of them!

Jon Hellevig was born in Helsinki, Finland, February 26th 1962. Shortly before his death he complained of heart complications and went to see a doctor. However, he did not have a corona infection, despite the pandemic.

Jon was a remarkable multi-talented Finn and a political thinker who had friends and colleagues in all Continents. The proverb “no one is a prophet in their own land” fits him well. He defended human rights and freedom of speech.

When the persecuted Finnish editor Ilya Janitskin died on February 7h 2020, Jon mourned and posted this poem and video. Unfortunately, Jon soon followed him.

We send our Deepest condolences to the relatives of both Jon and Ilya. Jon and Ilya suffered for our freedom of speech and both died after Cruel political persecution by Finnish authorities. Jon and Ilya sacrificed their most precious, their lives, to defend our freedom of speech. Let us and our children always remember them and let us be worthy of them!

Source: UMV Lehti

When our friend The Saker asked if either Intibah or I would like to write a necrologue for Jon Hellevig, we both felt we couldn’t give the request enough justice, because we didn’t know Jon enough. But as I decided to take the lead here and write it in my name, with Intibah’s help, I realized that I knew Jon enough to honour his legacy by relaying my short sad and sweet experience with him to my readers.

Jon was initially a Facebook friend whom we ‘met’ over the fight for Syria’s sovereignty and independence. When Intibah and I decided to visit Moscow in the spring of 2015, arrangements were made to meet in the flesh. And after a long and tedious flight from Hong Kong and a taxi trip to the hotel, Intibah noticed him sitting in the lobby waiting for us.

As he stood up to shake our hands, I felt dwarfed by this imposing gentle giant as my height could hardly reach his shoulder, and quickly, we took our luggage to the room, put a band aid on our flight fatigue, and went out with him for a walk around central Moscow. We had a wonderful evening together and he insisted to pay for dinner.

Jon was excited not only to see us, but it was the first real warm spring day in Moscow. The traditional Russian winter lockdown locked up his free spirit and made him feel imprisoned in a cage, as he put it. He loved spring and what it symbolizes, because Jon was full of life, full of ideas, positivity, and wishes for a better world.

The last thing I imagined back then was that only five years later I would be sitting down writing his eulogy.

In writing this, I don’t only want to mark my respect to a dear friend, but I also want to express the grief I feel, as this may help me self-heal and fill that deep sinking hole that his untimely death has created in my heart and soul.

For more than the five years since we met in the flesh, Jon was my mentor even though he was seven years my junior. I looked up to his vast knowledge and wisdom at many levels. He was a deep thinker with an amazing intellect, and extremely good with numbers when it came to economics; the real economics of the world. He was also Intibah’s mentor on ‘forensics’. Intibah’s unofficial professional title is the ‘forensic journalist’, and she and Jon worked together on many ’investigations’.

Jon loathed injustice, spoke strongly, fearlessly and vehemently against oppressors of all sizes. He spoke so openly that he lost many ‘friends’ along the way because diplomacy was not a forté with which he was blessed. Quite the contrary in fact, if he thought one was stupid; he called him stupid, moron, idiot, and he did not shy away from using more colourful language, and often made me laugh as he did; and this was because when he resorted to such language, it was justified and in him doing so, he expressed my angry side that I often keep the lid on.

He loved Russia. He adored Russia and chose it to be his home even though he was Finnish. He travelled extensively in Russia whilst he lived in Moscow, he absolutely loved the Black Sea region; especially Sochi. He made many trips to Donbas to see what was happening on the ground with his own eyes. And a few years ago, he met another great friend in India, Arun Shrivastava. Sadly, Arun passed away not long after leaving behind an important manuscript he wrote on the role of nefarious NGO’s. Intibah and I worked with Jon trying to salvage his work and have it published, but the single original copy of that work instead reached the hands of a former ‘friend’ who promised to have it translated to many languages and published. In hindsight, all he actually wanted to do was to put his filthy hands on it and make sure it never sees the light. That was such a disappointment for Jon and us. It is such a travesty that Arun’s work was confiscated by that slime of a human… I seem to be picking up some of Jon’s vocabulary already.

This year, sweet Jon did not get his spring. The COVID-19 lockdown locked up his heart and mind and sent him into deep and agonizing depression. For many people, this is something they can tolerate, but not for a soul that thrives on light and freedom. The flower was not allowed to blossom. Flowers do not grow in the dark.

Jon was no stranger to depression, and before his heart stopped, Intibah and I felt from his writings that he wasn’t well. We spoke to him on the 17th of May for over an hour. He was touched to hear our voices and to know that we cared for him and loved him. His pain was impossible to hide, but so was his hope and intention to come and visit us soon when this kerfuffle was over.

In the conversation, he made reference to similarities between himself and Kafka. I didn’t know much about Kafka and I am not going to pretend to be an instant expert on him after a quick Google job. But that analogy reminded me of my mother who lived the pain and suffering of French poet Lamartine for her entire life. And speaking of Lamartine, how can one forget Edgar Allan Poe? Such is the case of gentle souls.

We were planning to speak to him again, but didn’t want to inundate him with calls enough to make him feel we were worried and raise his concern. In hindsight, we wish we did.

We still don’t know where and when Jon’s body was ‘discovered’ as he lived alone. What we do know is that he died on the 26th of May of a heart attack at the prime age of 58 with still so much to give.

It is such a tragedy to realize that dear Jon was an inadvertent victim of COVID-19. The lockdown stifled his free spirit, and his heart gave up, because Jon lived up to his principles in every part of his body and mind. Pretence was not in his dictionary.

Jon my friend, forgive me for I cannot attend your funeral, but with these words, I let you rest in peace. Farewell.

Source: The Saker

  1. cechas vodobenikov says

    a wonderful tribute

  2. Udo Bauer says

    thank you for that heartfelt eulogy; many of us relied on Jon for insight and information, and we could easily confirm your recognition that lockdown and other intolerable injustices were progressively destroying him physically and mentally

  3. thomas malthaus says

    Little to say other than I enjoyed reading his articles and comments that were posted over at RI.

    To call him the quintessential Renaissance man would probably be an understatement. Your article has given a better insight.


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