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Anna Politkovskaya 1958-2006

October 9, 2006

I was really saddened to read of the blatant assassination of the most brave and intelligent Russian journalist of her generation Anna Politkovskaya. She was relentless in her devotion to uncovering the military human rights abuses in Chechnya and was a constant thorn in the side of Putin’s government. Her last piece published in Novaya Gazeta directly attacked the pro-Kremlin militia in Chechnya. It is thought that her death was possibly a sinister birthday present for the Chechyn PM whose birthday fell the day after she was killed. It seems that it is no coincidence that this was also the day when her current article was to be published citing his widespread and unlawful torture activities. Of course, her death has now caused the article to be withdrawn.

In Hell, an article from July 2000, she describes the ruins of the Chechen capital, Groznyy:
“The city ruins are like a new Caucasus mountain range. African-style famine. Painfully thin children…Living streets full of dead eyes. Mad and half-mad people. Streets teeming with weapons. Mines everywhere. Permanent explosions. Despair.”

She reported the clear truth in her own direct and inimitable style which earned her harsh criticism despite the fact that her reporting stood heads above alot of what has and continues to be written in the Russian mainstream media. She continued her work at great personal risk and was not a stranger to previous attempts on her life or regular death threats especially over the last decade. In 2004, she fell seriously ill after drinking tea on a flight bound for Beslan. She never made it and ended up in intensive care instead. She was not expected to survive but somehow managed to recover. It was thought that she was acting as one of the few crisis negotiators having previously been allowed into the Moscow theatre seige in 2002 for the same reason. I remember seeing a documentary about Politkovskaya a couple of years ago and was enthused by her intelligence, indescribable bravery and brilliantly clear way of expressing herself. She was and should continue to be an inspiration – not just to the people of Russia but to the world. It is not a surprise that she was joint winner of the 2005 Olaf Palme Peace Prize for her unique journalism and efforts spanning an unrelenting career of over twenty years. Anna Politkovskaya will no doubt be recognised worldwide for her service to the reporting of truth in a country which has a history of fear, suspicion and extreme cruelty towards its own people. As yet, no word from the Kremlin. I hope her death will change the course of Russian politics for the good. Whether it will or it won’t (be allowed to) – it should.

Hundreds of mourners across Moscow, St Petersburg and Grozny have been lighting candles and laying tributes to Politkovskaya since the news broke yesterday. Some have pasted up pictures of Putin with the words “It is your fault” scrawled hastily underneath. The Kremlin no doubt will remain silent while the ‘investigation’ will eventually conclude that no suspect could be traced despite the fact it is thought that her murder was possibly linked to her work. And still, Putin won’t quite be able to shake off the ghost of his shady KGB past because the legacy of Politkovskaya will still be there to shake him up a bit.


Their sign reads: The Kremlin has killed Freedom of Speech (courtesy mosdave/flickr)

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  1. Istvanski permalink

    Why am I not surprised to read news like this?<br/>There seems to be a regression towards a Stalinist way of doing things over there.<br/>Did Gorbachov end up wasting his time, or was it all a trick?

  2. rockmother permalink

    Putin’s a prick – it’s an outrage.

  3. Betty permalink

    The depressing thing is, the Russians voted Putin in originally of their own free will – I know this will seem like a sweeping generalisation, but there is a tendency for some East Europeans to hanker after "the good old days", whatever that means. <br/><br/>I mean, I’m half Serbian – look what happened after the breakdown of Communist rule in the former Yugoslavia. A war due to grudges that had been held for centuries which had a terrible outcome.<br/><br/>Still, maybe that’s what having lived under a repressive regime does to you …

  4. Heather permalink

    Thirteen journalists have been assassinated in Russia since Putin came to power. <br/><br/>It’s enough to make you weep.<br/><br/>It certainly makes you feel grateful to be living in a society with a free press. (The Kelly affair excepted).

  5. Robert A. Swipe permalink

    Well done for picking up on this Roster with the Moster.<br/><br/>I meant to blog something on this – even jotted it down in my notebook but did Monday’s post in a bit of a hurry.<br/><br/>I just felt sick to my stomach when I read the first paragraph of the story in the Obs. – couldn’t carry on. Enough information, already. It really does make you wonder what the point of anything is, doesn’t it?<br/><br/>Funnily, I’d just read the latest Amis in which he is really scathing about the new gangster-based "democracy" – when I thought he’d be saying *anything* is better than the old regime. Instead, he talks about the death of Russia that’s just been the long drawn out history of the last few hundred years and quite frankly, when you read stuff like this story, you just wish the whole bloody mess of it would curl up in a sodden heap of vodka soaked rags and bloody well perish.<br/><br/>It’s a bloody good read, by the way – very moving and quite unlike anything else of his I’ve read.<br/><br/>No wonder they have a population problem.

  6. baggiebird permalink

    I think it’s always sad when such and influential and powerful voice is lost. We can only hope that someone is brave enough to carry on letting the world know about the real Russia

  7. GreatSheElephant permalink

    appalling and depressing

  8. Molly Bloom permalink

    Brilliant post RoMo. Sometimes I just despair. Life is really depressing sometimes.

  9. realdoc permalink

    Great post, she was an inspiring woman.<br/>Can’t find Whales will send him an email.

  10. Arabella permalink

    And she has two children.<br/>Breaks my heart. Thanks for posting about it.

  11. Howesy permalink

    Truely dreadful this. To think that it still goes on, especially after all the changes. But, if you looking for some optimism, look at all the mourners who weren’t afraid to go out in the streets, holding up placards which were critical of the regime, that would never had happenned 20 years ago. Also, the fact that we have heard about this and are in a position to protest in a cyber-space type way, s’got to mean something?

  12. Pod permalink

    thats a great point howsey. there is something positive in there somewhere. the feeling of powerlessness is crippling at times. what can we do? but it is great that they got out there and protested. spread the love. corny, but necessary i feel

  13. rockmother permalink

    Thanks everyone – I too was heartened by the fact that ordinary people across Russia – not just in Moscow were coming out and staging their own protest at the makeshift memorials for Politkovskaya. <br/><br/>And yes Arabella, she leaves two children behind and a huge empty void for the citizens of Russia and Chechnya. It’s an utter outrage and a huge loss to freedom of speech in a country that is governed by a motley band of corrupt liars and cheats.

  14. Billy permalink

    Nice one bringing this one up Ro-Mo, it’s a disgrace what happened.

  15. First Nations permalink

    excellent post, rocky. just excellent.

  16. JDA permalink

    don’t know much about "Anna Politkovskaya" but she sounded a great woman who had courage beyond her call of duty! I read this post some days ago but didn’t really know what to say about it? she is another soul who has been snuffed out by a regime that boasts westernization? but, is it any different over here in the long run?<br/>food for thought..I’m lost in a comment field of thought?

  17. rockmother permalink

    Thank you for your comments Firsty, Billster and Jifdump. I’m still pissed off about it!

  18. rockmother permalink

    Swipey – I get a bit bored with extreme tracking and find it a bit confusing – who/what are you talking about – which bit on extreme tracking makes you think that?

  19. Istvanski permalink

    From what I can make of it RoMo, Tony Ogden is your stalker!?!

  20. rockmother permalink

    Tony Ogden’s dead you prannit! I did an obit on him a while ago – it’s people trying to find out about him probably. Ooh, unless he’s stalking me from the graaaaaave. Has anyone got Derek Acorah’s number – perhaps it’s a case for Most Haunted Blogger! 😉

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