I met him for the first time years ago at a conference in Warsaw; I don't remember all the details of that night in which at least half a dozen bottles of wine were opened with another colleague as we chatted late and later. He was always "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" but his astonishing talents, and the kindness and respect he showed me over the years were all unmistakable. The quality of his writing in English and German - neither his native language - and the subtlety and humor it so often revealed - consistently and rightly drew the admiration of the most perceptive people I know in what was our shared profession. His eye for detail was expressed not only in beautiful words, but in photographs and composed images which never ceased to surprise and delight me and many others.
We had our differences, as people do, but always he refrained from the ad hominem attacks one sees too often now, and expressed himself in ways more likely to call a listener to reflect and consider. I never thought of him as an adversary, but if I am to have adversaries in my life, I hope to be blessed with ones of such caliber and to enjoy a glass together as we toast and dispute our divergent perspectives.
The world of communication and culture is less now without Valerij, and the void he left there is surely less than the one in the hearts of his family and those who knew him. Go read his words, and remember. Vai com Deus, meu amigo.