Category Archives: Politkovskaya

EDITORIAL: Politkovskaya’s Killers


Politkovskaya’s Killers

Anna Politkovskaya

Last week Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was arrested in Moscow and charged with masterminding the murder of hero journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  At the time he did so, Pavlyuchenkov was head of surveillance at Moscow’s Main Internal Affairs Directorate, the city’s main police force.  At long last, in other words, the world has learned that it was not some rogue elements from Chechnya, acting on the orders of Ramzan Kadyrov, who liquidated Politkovskaya.

It was the Moscow Kremlin.

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Politkovskaya, Immortal

The Observer reviews a new collection (buy it here) of the reporting of Anna Politkovskaya (hat tip:  reader “Robert”):

The bravery is endlessly invoked, the “fanatical courage” hymned with an almost religious fervour. Anna Politkovskaya, nearly four years after her murder, is not forgotten. She is one reporter whose words will long be “held in awe”, as Helena Kennedy says in her introduction. She is the voice of conscience faced with brutal inhumanity and the peril that goes with it. But this superb collection of the pieces she wrote for Novaya gazeta adds another dimension. It measures her as a journalist against other journalists round the world. It reveals a superb original technician.

How do you best write a print story these days? American academics, as usual, debate technique as though it were holy writ. Who, what, when, and where all in the first paragraph, a trail of relevance slowly diminishing towards a tedious close: that’s the way our newspaper forefathers who worked in lead type deemed best. Just give us the facts up top. And make sure we can cut lumps of type from the end if we need to. But does this matter in an era of digital setting where anything comes and goes at the press of a button?

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Photo Essay: Remembering Politkovskaya


The sign reads: “Putin can’t solve the problem, he is the problem.”

Following are more photos taken by Russian bloggers on the scene at the observation of the third anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Nation of Murdering Bastards


Russia, Nation of Murdering Bastards

20_3620politkovskaya1Last week was the third anniversary of the assassination of hero reporter Anna Politkovskaya.  The Kremlin commemorated the event in its usual bloodthirsty fashion.

First, it handed victory to the crazed mass-murdering dictator of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, in his libel suit against the Memorial human rights organization over Memorial’s demands for justice in the killing of Politkovskaya’s successor, Natalia Estemirova.  Politkovskaya worked closely with Memorial in reporting on human rights issues in Chechnya, and Kadyrov hated them equally.

Then, it booted Reporters without Borders out of the country.  Last year it was Human rights Watch, this year RWB.  RWB has been tireless in standing up for justice in the Politkovskaya murder case, which has gotten exactly nowhere in the three years since her brutal, barbaric killing.

And for the capper, it toasted Vladimir Putins’ 57th birthday. 

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Remembering Anna Politkovskaya, Russian Super Patriot

K. Anthony Appiah, a philosophy professor at Princeton University and president of the board of trustees of the PEN American Center, the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization, writing in the Washington Post on October 7th:

Three years ago today Anna Politkovskaya, a courageous journalist who exposed appalling human rights offenses in Chechnya, was shot five times as she entered her Moscow apartment building. She was not the first Russian journalist to be slain for performing the invaluable function of bringing buried truths to light. Sadly, there have been, and will be, more murders. And we all pay the price.

Westerners were inclined to think during the Cold War that a democratic Russia would be better for Russians and for us. Yet 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, hopes for genuine democracy in Russia remain unrealized. A major reason is the parlous condition of the Russian media.

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From the Grave, Politkovskaya points her Finger at the Malignant Little Troll called Putin

A true Russian patriot

A true Russian patriot

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The Voice of America reports:

Recently, Freedom House, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, released its annual survey on freedom of the press. The current report points to “particularly worrisome trends in the former Soviet Union, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”

The study reinforces the message of a new documentary about suppression of the Russian media and the slayings of hundreds of Russian journalists since the fall of the Soviet Union. The film, 211: Anna, focuses on Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed in 2006. She had reported extensively on alleged Russian links to war crimes in Chechnya and was openly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

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Russian Prosecutor Smeared Politikovskaya

Paul Goble reports:

The failure of a Moscow District military court jury last month to convict those charged with involvement in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya may have had less to do with the skill of defense attorneys than with materials the government offered that appear designed to discredit her, according to a Moscow commentator.

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EDITORIAL: Blaming the Jury System


Blaming the Jury System

 It can’t have surprised anyone vaguely familiar with Russian politics these days to learn, from Kremlin bagman Alexei Pankin in the pages of the Moscow Times, that the Putin regime plans to use the Politkovskaya trial acquittal to lay the Russian jury system in its grave.

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EDITORIAL: No Justice for Politkovskaya, No Peace for Russia

No justice? No peace!

No justice? No peace!


No Justice for Politkovskaya, No Peace for Russia

“There were two verdicts delivered today.  One, de jure, was the acquittal of the defendants. But a guilty verdict was leveled against the corrupt system that exists here. Nothing works, not one governmental institution works.”

— Sergei M. Sokolov, deputy editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, reacting to the acquittal of all accused in the murder of the paper’s most famous reporter, Anna Politkovskaya

No justice? No peace!

For months now, a ridiculous show trial has been underway to supposedly prosecute the killers of hero journlist Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in the lobby of her apartment building in Moscow in October 2006.  In fact, neither the person who ordered the killing nor the one who pulled the trigger stood before the court, but rather only a trio of lackeys allegedly having tangiential connection to the ghastly crime.

No justice? No peace!

And last Thursday, a jury acquitted all three of them on all charges, putting the final nail into this obscene mockery of justice. Along the way, so-called “president” Vladmir Putin said Politkovskaya’s killing was “more damaging” to Russia than her writings (imagine John Kennedy saying that about Martin Luther King!) and the trial judge attempted to preclude anyone from watching the outrageously crude proceedings, which echoed some third-world banana republic.

No justice? No peace!

We would condemn this travesty, but there are no words strong enough to do so.  From Galina Starovoitova to Stanislav Markelov, these murders have been the most salient feature of the Putin years, and not one of them has ever been solved.  That’s not difficult to understand, not if you believe Putin himself ordered the killings — and not once has Putin made an unequivocal statement condemning them.  In fact, he only spoke out about Politkovskaya because he was ambushed by a pack of foreign journalists while traveling abroad.

No justice? No peace!

The people of Russia, who have chosen Putin as their ruler, are responsible for his actions. The misery and woe descending upon them now are of their own making, and not until they realize that will they have any hope of a future.

No justice? No peace!

The KGB and Politkovskaya

Just days ago, we translated an item from Novaya Gazeta which raised questions about the possible involvement of the KGB (now known as the FSB) in the Beslan atrocity.  Now, NG’s editor has testifed at the murder trial of Anna Politkovskaya’s killers that the KGB’s fingerprints are all over that atrocity as well.  The Moscow Times reports:

A defendant and a key witness in the Anna Politkovskaya murder trial worked on behalf of the Federal Security Service, one of the slain reporter’s editors testified in court Friday.

Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya wrote critical reports about federal abuses in Chechnya, said the FSB was tailing the journalist before she was killed in October 2006.  “It has become known to me that Dzhabrail Makhmudov was an agent,” he told the packed courtroom.

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Pasko on Politkovskaya

The grave of Russian Hero Anna Politkovskaya

The grave of Russian Hero Anna Politkovskaya

Смех берет от надписей дебильных
И поэтов, сочинявших их,
Тех, что нам на камушках могильных
Пишут глупое: “Трагически погиб”.

They make you laugh, the moronic inscriptions,
And the poets who composed them
Those who for us on little gravestones
Write stupidly: “Tragically died”.

Writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, hero journalist Grigori Pasko remembers hero journalist and martyr Anna Politkovskaya as the Kremlin announces that the so-called trial of her so-called killers will go on behind closed doors, just as in the USSR.

On 17 November, on the day of the start of the trial of the persons accused of the murder of the famous journalist, “Novaya gazeta” observer Anna Politkovskaya, an acquaintance telephoned me and said: “Have you heard!? The trial will be open!”

I had already gotten so much accustomed to closed trials in Russia that I inadvertently said: “It can’t be so!”

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Moskalenko under Putin’s Gun

Karinna Moskalenko

Karinna Moskalenko

We are heartened to see the mainstream media pick up the story we blogged about earlier in the week, via the always-brilliant Paul Goble, regarding the Kremlin’s latest horrific physical assault on its critics. The New York Times reports:

French police are investigating the discovery of toxic mercury pellets in the car of a human rights lawyer who was taken ill in Strasbourg on Tuesday, a day before pretrial hearings in Moscow into the killing of one of her best-known clients, the journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya.

The case recalled events almost two years ago when Alexander Litvinenko, a former K.G.B. officer and a vocal critic of Vladimir V. Putin, died after ingesting a highly radioactive toxin, polonium 210. Scotland Yard said he had been murdered.

Ms. Politkovskaya, who had chronicled allegations of abuse in Russia’s wars in Chechnya, was shot to death in her apartment in Moscow a few weeks before Mr. Litvinenko was poisoned. Critics of Mr. Putin, then president and now prime minister, said the two killings were part of a pattern of Kremlin-backed actions against its foes.

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An Assault on Politkovskaya’s Attorney!

The Kremlin still fears mighty Anna

The Kremlin still fears mighty Anna

Paul Goble reports:

Two days before she was slated to appear at a preliminary hearing on the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, Karinna Moskalenko, who is serving as the lawyer for the family of the deceased and is currently in France, discovered that someone had placed a large quantity of mercury in her car in an apparent effort to poison her and her family. She and the members of her family are in satisfactory condition but will have to undergo treatment, Novaya Gazeta editor Sergey Sokolov said in an article posted on his newspaper’s website late last night. French police, he continued, are investigating the case at the present time.

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Annals of the Politkovskaya Scandal

Rest in peace, fallen hero!

Rest in peace, fallen hero!

Jonas Bernstein of the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor gives us the latest update on the Kremlin’s Politkovskaya murder coverup:

October 7 marked the second anniversary of the murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya. According to The Moscow Times, several hundred people, including Politkovskaya’s colleagues and children, human rights activists, and political opposition leaders, gathered on central Moscow’s Pushkin Square to remember her. In a speech to the gathering, Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov criticized the decision to try the men accused of her slaying in the Moscow District Military Court, which in 2004 acquitted several men of the 1994 murder of Moskovsky Komsomolets reporter Dmitry Kholodov. “This very court heard the murder case of journalist Dmitry Kholodov and let his killers walk free,” Muratov said. The Moscow District Military Court announced on October 7 that preliminary hearings in the case would begin on October 15 (Itar-Tass, October 7). Petros Garibyan, who is in charge of the investigation into Politkovskaya’s murder, told Novaya Gazeta that the case would be heard by a military court rather than a civil court because classified material and an FSB officer were involved.

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The Sunday Photos: YouTube Edition

Source: Garry Kasparov’s blog.

The Sunday Film Review: Politkovskaya

JB Spins reviews a new film on Anna Politikovskaya:

If ever there was a woman who personified strength, dignity, and a commitment to human rights, it was Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading Russian journalist assassinated for investigating the neo-Soviet Putin regime. Unfortunately, there is not much human rights watching going on at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, besides Letter to Anna, Eric Bergkraut’s dogged documentary investigation into her death (trailer here).

Of the thirty two films at the HRW Fest, five focus their fire on Israel and four concentrate on America, clearly safe targets to shoot at. Few films at the fest, besides Letter, tackle a government perfectly willing to murder those who questions its policies, as in the case of Politkovskaya in Putin’s Russia. (To be fair, it sounds like China’s Stolen Children also deserves recognition for taking on the country’s one child policy, but the fest completely ignores Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.) However, the sins of the festival should not be held against Letter, a first-rate documentary.

When Politkovskaya looks into the camera and tells Bergkraut she expects to be killed, it is spooky. Obviously, she knew what she was talking about, having already survived a poisoning attempt (evidently no Polonium was available to those would-be assassins). Politkovskaya made her name exposing human rights abuses (real ones) in Chechnya, again nearly getting killed in the process. It was while filming a documentary on the Russian Dirty War that Bergkraut filmed hours of interview footage with Politkovskaya, which formed the backbone of Letter.

Although one could uncharitably characterize Letter as a film built around outtakes, much of that footage is quite insightful. Perhaps most controversial will be his decision to begin by taking the audience through her assassination step by step. As Bergkraut marshals the facts and circumstances around the event he makes a compelling case against the Putin machine. By American legal standards, he would probably have enough to indict, but not convict. Of course, on a common sense level, the notion that a free-agent in Putin’s Russia would take out a prominent Putin critic without the go-ahead from the highest levels, stretches all believability.

Things are bad in Russia—no question. Relatively few have been willing to publically challenge Putin’s authoritarian rule. Some of those who did join Politkovskaya, like democracy activist Garry Kasparov, participated in the film. We also hear from expat billionaire Boris Berezovsky, perhaps a problematic anti-Putin spokesman, but always a good interview.

Letter would make for good, if depressing, companion viewing with Poisoned By Polonium, as Litvinenko appears in the former and Politkovskaya is also featured in the latter. Politkovskaya had everything to live for, having just heard she was about to become a grandmother. However, she never backed down in her attempts to hold Putin’s government accountable for its crimes. If you want to see what “patriotic dissent” looks like, Politkovskaya is its human face.

Bergkraut makes another credible case against Putin’s criminal reign, and give Susan Sarandon credit for recording the English narration (and Catherine Deneuve for the French), but are people paying attention to the increasingly frightening developments in Russia? Letter screens only once during the fifteen day film festival, Thursday the 26th, at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater.

No Justice For Politkovskaya

The Washington Post reports that, just as predicted, the Kremlin has closed the Politkovskaya investigation without apprehending the shooter or identifying the party who ordered the hit, instead attempting to claim by innuendo that it was Boris Berezovsky.

Three men were charged Wednesday with involvement in the October 2006 killing of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, but investigators said nothing about who ordered the assassination or why. A man formally identified by authorities last month as the shooter remains at large, as does the unknown person who organized the murder.

Politkovskaya, a critic of the Kremlin known for crusading reports on human rights abuses in Chechnya, was shot in the lobby of her apartment building in central Moscow as she was returning home with groceries. Police immediately described it as a contract killing. The murder weapon was dropped beside the body.

The killing chilled public opinion in the West where Politkovskaya, 48, was lauded for her work. But it made little impression in Russia, drawing some derisory comments from then-president Vladimir Putin about the lack of impact the journalist had with her work in her home country.

Officials suggested that the killing was ordered by an exiled enemy of the Kremlin — longstanding code for Boris Berezovsky, the London-based tycoon. Berezovsky denied any involvement, and Politkovskaya’s colleagues said the person behind the killing was almost certainly in Russia.

Prosecutors charged Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former police officer, and two brothers from Chechnya, Dzhabrail Makhmudov and Ibragim Makhmudov, with involvement in the crime, but gave no details as to their alleged roles. The men have been in custody since their arrest last August. A fourth man, Pavel Ryaguzov, an officer in the FSB, the domestic security agency, was charged with extortion and abuse of office. Prosecutors said the charges against Ryaguzov relate to “separate crime,” but officials previously said that he provided Politkovskaya’s address to the killers.

Investigators said in May that they believe that Politkovskaya was shot by Rustam Makhmudov, the eldest of the Makhmudov brothers. He had been identified in news reports as early as March. Makhmudov remains at large and prosecutors said their investigation of him continues.

Eleven people were initially detained in connection with the killing, but since then all but those charged Wednesday have been released. A fourth Makhmudov brother was released last month, but ordered not to leave Russia.

The editor of Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper where Politkovskaya worked, welcomed Wednesday’s announcement, but said the probe was far from complete. “The case has not been solved . . . this announcement does not satisfy the newsroom or members of Anna Politkovskaya’s family,” said Dmitry Muratov, according to daily. “We insist that this case is followed through.”

Muratov also said Wednesday that leaks during the investigation had allowed Rustam Makhmudov to evade capture.

Since 2000, 14 journalists have been murdered in Russia because of their work, making the country the third deadliest in the world for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. There has been only one conviction in those cases and none of a person accused of ordering a killing, according to the New York-based advocacy group

The Sunday Film Review: Banned in Russia

The Moscow Times reports:

Swiss director Eric Bergkraut doesn’t expect his latest film, “Letter to Anna,” to go down well in Russia, or even to make it into theaters. But in an interview after the premiere of the feature-length version at the Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto, he said he didn’t want his film to be perceived as “anti-Russian.”

“One can be very critical of Mr. Putin’s politics without being anti-Russian at all,” Bergkraut emphasized. “I am not sure if that is understood in Moscow today.”

“Letter to Anna” is a documentary describing the life and death of the independent-minded Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was often treated with suspicion by the Russian authorities, and indeed by no small number of ordinary Russians.

Politkovskaya was best known for her critical writing on the wars in Chechnya, which appeared in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and in her books, “A Dirty War,” and “A Small Corner of Hell.”
She was shot to death in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006.

Bergkraut first met Politkovskaya in 2003, while he was working on his documentary, “Coca: The Dove From Chechnya,” a film about a Chechen woman who had filmed human rights abuses in the republic.

Bergkraut asked Politkovskaya to appear in the film, and she agreed.

“My first impression of Anna was that she was very busy, very focused on her work, and that she was afraid of wasting her time. But once we started talking, we had very long talks, much longer than we had intended,” Bergkraut said.

“What I liked was that she was always on the side of the weak person. I never had the feeling that it was about good Chechens and bad Russians. She was not naive at all. She just found the way the Russian government was dealing with the conflict not very intelligent.”

Bergkraut assembled “Letter to Anna” from footage of Politkovskaya left over from “Coca,” as well as footage which he shot in Russia after her death.

The film includes interviews with Politkovskaya’s son Ilya, her daughter Vera, her ex-husband, Alexander Politkovsky, and makes clear that Politkovskaya’s family feared for her life.

“Her family wanted to stop her. The only person who did not want to stop her was her daughter, Vera, who had a deep understanding for what her mother did. All the others — and it’s very understandable — tried to stop her, but it was not possible.”

The idea of living in exile was impossible for her, he said. “She did not want to leave the country. That would have been in total contradiction to who she was and how she lived.”

Expatriate Russian billionaire and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky is among the Kremlin opponents Bergkraut interviews in the film, which is one reason he expects to have difficulties getting it screened in Russia.

“The film could do without Berezovsky, but why should it? Why is it impossible for Russians to see Berezovsky?” Bergkraut asked.

“He is a kind of Mephisto in the film. He is not the good guy. He has to be in the film because, [Russian Prosecutor General] Yury Chaika said at a press conference that [Politkovskaya’s] murder could only have come from abroad, from oligarchs. It is quite clear that he was pointing at Berezovsky,” he said.

Another possible obstacle to the film’s presentation in Russia might be Politkovskaya’s characterization of the war in Chechnya as “genocidal.”

“She gives a very good argument,” says Bergkraut. “Do you know how many people have been killed in Chechnya? We do not know the figures. Maybe only 80,000. Maybe 150,000. Maybe 300,000. It’s really a tragedy. Chechens are a very small community,” he said.

“But every single Russian soldier and his family is a tragedy too, for me. It’s not necessarily that I share [her] judgment, but I wanted to show it,” he added.

“Letter to Anna” also includes appearances by Garry Kasparov, Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov, and other colleagues and acquaintances of Politkovskaya.

Bergkraut regrets that he was not able to represent “official Russia” more thoroughly in his film.

“I tried very hard to get an interview with Yury Chaika, but it was not possible. I am trying hard to understand [his position]. I would have loved to have more official Russian voices,” he said.

Bergkraut also laments that no one from “official Russia” has attended any of his international screenings.

“At all the screenings of my film, I was expecting that some day someone from the Russian embassy would come, and we would have a discussion. Nobody ever came. It’s a pity. My last film has been shown in about 30 countries, but not in Russia. Isn’t that strange?”

After winning the International Human Rights Film Award for “Coca” in Berlin last year, Bergkraut was approached by several film stars who expressed interest in collaborating with him. As a result, Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve, and Iris Berben provided the narrations for “Letter to Anna” in its English, French, and German versions, respectively.

Bergkraut’s film was also honored by Vaclav Havel when it screened at the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague earlier this year.

“Festivals and television stations are now approaching me because they want to show “Letter to Anna,” but no one has come to me from Russia,” Bergkraut said.

“A discussion [about Politkovskaya] — which may be controversial — would be interesting and somehow natural. The best thing would be if a Russian television channel bought “Letter to Anna. Maybe one day. Things can change.”

Politkovskaya Speaks

Jeremy Putley points out that Index For Free Expression republishes a 2002 interview with Politkovskaya in honor of the somber one-year anniversary of her killing:

The journalist and author Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated on 7 October 2006. To mark the first anniversary of her death, Index here reproduces this interview with Politkovskaya, which originally appeared in Index on Censorship in 2002. At the time, Politkovskaya was living in Vienna: she had moved there after receiving death threats following her reports on Chechnya. The interview is a reminder of her remarkable courage in the face of increasing intimidation. It also gives an insight into her motivation and integrity: ‘If people in my country have no protection from this lawless regime, that means I survive here while others are dying… People who were my witnesses and informants in Chechyna have died for that reason, and that reason alone, as soon as I left their homes. If it again proves the case, then how can I go on living abroad while others are dying in my place?’ Index calls on the Russian authorities to conduct a fair, exhaustive and unprejudiced investigation into Anna Politkovskaya’s murder.

Just before my last trip to Chechnya in mid-September my colleagues at Novaya gazeta began receiving threats and were told to pass on the message: I shouldn’t go to Chechnya any more, they said, because if I did my life would be in danger. As always, our paper has its ‘own people’ in the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence – I mean those who shares similar views to our own. We spoke to people at the ministry but, despite their advice, I did go back to Chechnya, only to find myself blockaded in the capital, Grozny. The city was sealed off after a series of strange events there. Controls were so tight you couldn’t even move between different districts within the city, let alone make your way out of Grozny on foot. On that day, 17 September, a helicopter carrying a commission, headed by Major-General Anatoly Pozdnyakov, from the General Staff in Moscow was shot down directly over the city. The general was engaged in work quite unprecedented for a soldier in Chechnya.

Only an hour before the helicopter was shot down, he told me the task of his commission was to gather data on crimes committed by the military, analyse their findings, put them in some order and then submit the information for the president’s consideration. Nothing of the kind had been done before. The helicopter in which they were flying out of Grozny was shot down almost exactly over the city centre. All the members of the commission perished, and since they were already on their way to Khankala airbase to take a plane back to Moscow, so did all the material they had collected.

That part of the story was published by Novaya gazeta. Before the 19 September issue was sent to the printers, our chief editor Dmitry Muratov was summoned to the Ministry of Defence (or so I understand) and asked to explain how on earth such allegations could be made. He gave them an answer after which the pressure really began. There should be no publication, he was told. Nevertheless he decided to go ahead, publishing a very truncated version of what I had written.

At that point, the very people at the ministry who had declared our report to be false, now conceded it was true. But they began to warn of new threats: they had learned that certain people had run out of patience with my articles. It was, in other words, the same kind of conversation as before my last trip to Chechnya. Then someone started saying there were threats from a particular officer, a Lieutenant Larin, whom I had described in print as a war criminal. The deaths and torture of several people lie on his conscience and the evidence against him is incontrovertible. Soon there were warnings that I’d better stay at home. Meanwhile the Internal Affairs Ministry would track down and arrest this self-appointed military hitman, and Deputy Minister Vasilyev would himself take charge of the operation.

I was supposed to remain at our apartment and go nowhere. They made no progress in finding Larin, however, and I began to realise that it was simply another way of making me stop work. The newspaper decided I should leave the country until the editors were sure I could again live a normal life and resume my work.

The paper was forced to omit from my story the sort of detail that is vital to the credibility of an article like this, which suggested the military themselves had downed the helicopter. All my subsequent difficulties began with those details. If these details surface, the ministry of defence told our chief editor, then that’s the end for you …

In fact, since I was moving around the city at the time, I can personally testify to what happened, as can otheres who were there with me. And these were no ordinary citizens, I may add: among them were Chechen policemen and Grozny Energy Company employees who, like me, were trapped inside the city. FSB General Platonov was also there: currently he serves as a deputy to Anatoly Chubais, chief executive of United Energy Systems. All of these people saw and knew exactly what I know. Platonov is not only Chubais’ deputy but remains a deputy to the FSB director Patrushev. And no one else saw and knew as much about what happened as General Platonov – he couldn’t help but see it. Not one person was allowed into the city centre after 9am. that morning. And yet a helicopter was downed there.

Different branches of the military are split over future policy in Chechnya. There are good reasons why the recent public statements of defence ministry spokesmen all repeat the same phrases: ‘We deny the possibility of negotiations’; ‘it’s out of the question’; ‘We are just doing our job’. Indeed they are: their ‘sweep and cleanse’ operations have become even more brutal. Let us suppose that those representing certain other branches of the military on the ground in Chechnya are pursuing a rather different policy. That is where you should seek the reason for the deaths of all the commission members. I’m just a small cog in that machine – someone who happened to be in the thick of events when no other journalists were around.

Those who want to continue fighting seem to have the upper hand; they represent the more powerful section within the Combined Forces Group (CFG). To avoid repetition of the disastrous lack of coordination between ministries of defence and internal affairs and the FSB during the first Chechen conflict in 1994-96, overall command of army, police and other paramilitary and special units in the present war was given to the military. Although the FSB supposedly now exercise overall control of the ‘anti-terrorist operation’, the military are too strong for them. On the fateful day the helicopter was downed and the commission perished, not even servicemen and officers were permitted to enter the central, cordoned-off area of Grozny. Only defence ministry officials were allowed through. Even FSB and ministry o justice people were kept out; that was extraordinary. No one was permitted to enter the area where the helicopter was about to fall. Representatives of other military bodies and organisations, even ranking officers, had no right to go there.

I don’t think we should expect much from the defence ministry, nor from President Putin [in light of the US-led campaign in Afghanistan]. He has received carte blanche to take the measures and employ the forces that he considers necessary in Chechnya. I’m thinking of Tony Blair’s recent activities and words spoken by Chancellor Schroeder when Putin was visiting Germany. As you know, it was then said that Europe should re-examine its stance on Chechnya.

Their position was already rather feeble and bore no relation to the real state of affairs in Chechnya concerning the abuse of human rights. If, however, they are going to alter that position then it’s clear what will happen. In practical terms they’ll support Putin. Whatever he does will be fine by them. I think he’s been working steadily and persistently towards that end for some time. And, I’m sure he’ll make good use of it now. There’s been a battle to see whose nerve is stronger, and it’s not for the first time during the present war. Putin held back [over the west’s own ‘anti-terrorist operation’] for some while: we shan’t support the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, he said, but we’ll offer them back up. Then he nevertheless agreed to supply them with arms and, evidently, advisers. In exchange he received a free hand in Chechnya. That’s the way things are likely to go, I’m afraid.

I can’t say when it will happen, but whatever happens there will be a more intensive ‘liquidation of Chechen partisans’. As always in Russia, however, it all depends on the methods to be used. What will the ‘liquidation of Chechen bandits’ amount to this time? Will they herd everyone into concentration camps, or hold repeated sweep operations in all the population centres in Chechnya?

I can’t answer for [Chechen president] Maskhadov, but will offer a brief analysis of his actions. In my view, he is doing nothing whatsoever. He has retreated into his shell and is thinking, to the exclusion of all else, about his own immediate future – he’s forgotten the Chechen nation. Just as the federal authorities in Moscow have abandoned the Chechens, so now have the other side. The nation has to fend for itself, with no leadership or protection. It survives as best it can. If people need to take revenge for their tortured and murdered relatives, they will. If they need to say nothing, they’ll keep their mouths shut. In such circumstances, which are the equivalent of a civil war, and under continuing pressure from the federal forces, no one today could say whom the Chechen nation would vote for if elections were held. No one now has any idea whom they’d elect and in that respect everyone has committed the same enormous mistake.

Maskhadov has obviously been driven into a corner. That’s quite clear. But the struggle for independence has become an obsession with him, it seems to me; he will now hear of nothing else. I don’t really understand what use independence will be to him, when he, Basayev and his immediate bodyguard are all that’s left. The first duty of a president is to fight for the well being of his nation. I have my own president, and it makes no difference that I personally did not vote for Putin. He remains the most important figure in the Russian state. And I’d like him to enable me, and everyone else, to live a normal life. I’m referring to the laws that should govern our existence. I find myself in a situation, however, where no one gives a damn how I survive. I’m cut off from my family. I don’t know what will happen in the future to my two children. It is not law that rules Russia today. There’s no person and no organisation to which you can turn to be sure that the laws there are have any force.

I have no thoughts about my future. And that’s the worst of all. I just want everything to change so I go back and live in Moscow again. I can’t imagine spending any length of time here in Vienna. Or in any other place, for that matter. I must do all in my power to return to Moscow. But I have no idea when that will be.

If people in my country have no protection from this lawless regime, that means I survive here while others are dying. Over the last year I’ve been in that position too often. People who were my witnesses and informants have died for that reason, and that reason alone, as soon as I left their homes. If it again proves the case, then how can I go on living abroad while others are dying in my place?

They’re Still Afraid of Politkovskaya: Now THAT is Power

Javno reports further details on the harassment of those who sought to commemorate Anna Politkovskaya (pictured) on the one-year anniversary of her killing:

Russian police briefly detained five foreign citizens who had planned to attend a human rights forum on Saturday [Oct. 6] to commemorate the first anniversary of the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Organisers of the forum in Nizhny Novgorod, a city 400 km (250 miles) east of Moscow, said they were forced to cancel a series of meetings after police seized computers from their office and authorities blocked access to their bank account. Neil Hicks, a British director of New York-based Human Rights First, told Reuters he was detained for four hours along with a German and three Spaniards and fined 3,000 roubles ($120) for a violation of his visa status, a charge he denies. “We think is it interference in the activities of human rights organisations,” he said. “It is unfortunate and shows the problems with basic freedoms are very severe in Russia.” Another of the detained represented Amnesty International, an event organiser said. Police in Nizhny Novgorod were not available for comment. Politkovskaya was shot dead in her apartment building in a contract-style shooting on Oct. 7 last year. Separately, a group of prominent activists called for Russia to bring to justice those who instigated the murder of Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin. The group Reach All Women in War (RAW in WAR), whose supporters include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, made the call in a letter to Britain’s Times newspaper. “We call on the Russian government to bring to justice, in full conformity with international standards, both those who killed Anna Politkovskaya and those who ordered her murder,” the letter said. “We also call on the world’s leaders to pledge to do everything in their power to protect the journalists and human rights defenders who work in the areas of war and conflict, and who speak out on behalf of the victims, as Anna did.”


Among those who signed Saturday’s letter were Elena Bonner, widow of the late Soviet dissident and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, former Czech president Vaclav Havel, and Marina Litvinenko, whose husband Alexander died in London last year after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210.

Russian authorities have arrested 11 people over Politkovskaya’s death. Prosecutors last month charged a former government official from the volatile region of Chechnya, Shamil Burayev, as an accomplice to the murder. Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, reported in its Saturday edition that a Ukrainian crime boss had also been arrested in connection with the killing. Prosecutors, who link the murder to her reporting, have said they suspect she was murdered by an organised crime group involving serving and former law enforcement officers. Politkovskaya was active in exposing abuses by security forces in Chechnya and neighbouring Russian regions.

The Nizhny Novgorod edition of the publication for which she worked, Novaya Gazeta, was one of the organisers of the planned forum in the city. Oksana Chelysheva of the group Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance, the other organiser, said reservations made for visitors in local hotels were cancelled without good reason. “The authorities organised unprecedented surveillance. It was very difficult for us to accommodate people,” she said.

Politkovskaya: The Face that Launched a Thousand Dreams

She walks in beauty like
the night of cloudless climbs and starry skies, and

all that’s best in dark and bright
in her aspect, and in her eyes.

Anna’s Daughter Vera (right)

Anna’s Killer, Vladimir Putin, with some of his
other victims

“The Putin School of Journalism”

Politkovskaya: A Hero for Our Time

A Hero for Our Time

by Jeremy Putley

Russia is a country without many heroes. It had a good many, once. But under Vladimir Putin, president since 2000, most of the heroes are in prison, exiled or dead. The bravest and best of them was Anna Politkovskaya, assassinated a year ago today.

In her four published books and her journalism Anna Politkovskaya reported and commented fearlessly on the injustices and the corruption, the crimes and the lies she found wherever she went. In so doing she wrote the history of the Putin era. The importance of her contribution to the record of what really happened at events such as the Dubrovka theatre siege lies in the efforts of Russia’s sinister regime of siloviki to falsify history. As a minor, but significant, example, the number of the hostages killed by the rescuers at the siege was officially 139, but in reality, as accurately recorded by Politkovskaya, 200.

Attempts by the Russian government at falsification of the historical record, or disguising what really happened, are a trademark of Putinism. The suppression of the truth of the Chechnya war was deliberate policy, intended to hide the lawless anarchy created in Chechnya, the war crimes committed by the Russian military, and the mass murder of the civilian population. In A Dirty War, published in 2001, and A Small Corner of Hell, in 2003, Politkovskaya wrote about what was really happening there. On the blanket of secrecy she commented: “The time of Putin is the time of silence about what’s most important in this country.”

Putin’s Russia, in 2004, is about a man who, as the book’s blurb says, had marketed himself as an open, enlightened leader eager to engage with the West. Unlike many European and American journalists and politicians, Anna distrusted Putin’s press image, and set about dismantling it, arguing that he is a product of his own history, and so is unable to prevent himself from stifling civil liberties at every turn. The following passage from the book discloses the sense of moral outrage that was the inspiration for the best of her journalism. She relates how a missile bombardment on a farmstead, in April 2004, killed everyone there – a mother and her five children – and writes:

Why do I so dislike Putin? Because the years are passing. This summer it will be five since the second Chechen War was instigated. It shows no sign of ending. At the time the babies [killed in the bombardment] were yet unborn, but all the murders of children since 1999 in bombardments and purges remain unsolved, uninvestigated by the institutions of law and order. The infanticides have never had to stand where they belong, in the dock; Putin, that great “friend of all children”, has never demanded that they should. The Army continues to rampage in Chechnya as it was allowed to at the beginning of the war, as if its operations were being conducted on a training ground empty of people.

This massacre of the innocents did not raise a storm in Russia. Not one television station in Russia broadcast images of the five little Chechens who had been slaughtered. The Minister of Defence did not resign. He is a personal friend of Putin and is even seen as a possible successor in 2008. The head of the Air Force was not sacked. The Commander-in-Chief himself made no speech of condolence…and in Russia all was quiet.

Why do I so dislike Putin? This is precisely why. I dislike him for a matter-of-factness worse than felony, for his cynicism, for his racism, for his lies, for the gas he used in the Nord-Ost siege, for the massacre of the innocents which went on throughout his first term as President.

This is how I see it.

It was passion and honesty, as well as Anna Politkovskaya’s undoubted courage, which made her Russia’s greatest journalist in her lifetime. I once so described her on an internet forum; a Russian wrote to inform me that she was not well regarded in her own country, and moreover my opinion was in bad taste. I had not intended to praise the quality of her journalism so much as the indomitable spirit which informed it, the shining courage which made her so necessary to her profession in the time in which she lived. Russian people in general are still unaware, no doubt, that they lost a truly heroic figure in October 2006. Her books remain unpublished in Russia, I believe.

Her last book, published posthumously in February this year, is entitled A Russian Diary. In the foreword the broadcaster Jon Snow writes: “For many of us who continue to aspire to the highest standards of journalism, Anna Politkovskaya will remain a beacon burning bright, a yardstick by which integrity, courage and commitment will be measured.”

Politkovskaya’s bravery was remarkable. There were many recorded instances, of which one is referred to by Matthew Evangelista, in his 2002 book, The Chechen Wars:

In February 2001 she travelled to Chechnya to investigate stories of mass detentions in underground pits, torture, and summary executions. Not only did she verify the stories, but she herself was arrested by the FSB and threatened with rape and “execution”. Unbowed, she continued to issue critical reports about the behaviour of Russian forces in Chechnya.

Evangelista continues:

In October 2001 Politkovskaya had to flee the country after receiving threats on her life. She had published more controversial articles on the Chechen War, including the interview with [the Russian war criminal, General Vladimir] Shamanov. In September she wrote about alleged summary executions and torture committed by a unit of Interior Ministry troops in Grozny. The report contained detailed accusations of torture by Sergei Lapin; an officer who allegedly shaved his nickname “Kadet” on the back of the head of Zelimkhan Murdalov, a 26-year-old Chechen man in custody before breaking his arm and thorax and cutting off his right ear. Supposedly transferred to the hospital, Murdalov was never seen again.

Anna did not remain abroad for long, and in spite of information that her life was in danger she returned to Moscow. In October 2002 she was involved in the Dubrovka theatre siege as an intermediary between the Chechen hostage-takers and the would-be liberators. And in September 2004 she was poisoned, almost certainly by the FSB, and hospitalised, en route to Beslan, to prevent her reporting on the events of the school siege and massacre.

After an unconscionably lengthy delay, a parliamentary commission reported on the Beslan tragedy. The report by the Torshin commission was a work of cynical mendacity intended to whitewash the Russian government and its agencies. It was interesting only in showing that the heirs to the Soviet Union’s praesidium, or central committee, are capable of lies intended to falsify, to the Russian people and the world, the historical record of what really happened, and to hide the crimes of the officials who ordered the assault on the school knowing that hostage deaths would be the inevitable consequence.

It was therefore with a sense of being lied to yet again that, at the end of August, I watched on the Russia Today TV channel the hour-long press conference given by the Russian prosecutor-general, Yuri Chaika, in which he announced that the investigation into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya was complete, that the guilty were under arrest, that there was a Chechen trail, and that an unnamed person living abroad was identified as having ordered the murder.

I don’t think so. The person who ordered the murder had a motive, and that person is to be found in Russia or in Chechnya. It is unlikely that he will be named by the unconvincing Mr Chaika, since he doesn’t know who it is – or, if he does, is not going to tell us for fear of a bullet or two.

The Hero of Russia title and medal replaced the Soviet equivalent in 1992, since when an unknown number of persons have received the honour. In her book, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya, Anna Politkovskaya wrote of “Russia’s secret heroes”:

I had two very simple questions. The first was, How many soldiers have received state awards for their participation in the Second Chechen War? And the second was, How many of them earned the Hero of Russia title?

The Information Department sent me to the Putin administration’s Department of Government Awards. “That information is classified,” the assistants firmly stated, categorically refusing me any chance to talk with the bosses of their departments. “It’s not subject to disclosure.”

“But that’s absurd!” I objected. “Why are the Hero of Russia and other awards confidential?”

“For the protection of those who receive these awards,” came yet another cryptic response.

Anna Politkovskaya was not nominated to receive the Hero of Russia award. In any case she would have declined the title, which has been much dishonoured by being awarded to unworthy men.

Her lasting contribution and her title to greatness are in this ironic truth: that her record of what really happened in her country under President Putin will stand. The falsehoods and secrecy promulgated by the corrupt men who now rule in Russia will not stand. The eventual verdict of history on the Putin presidency will be as it was recorded by the courageous, lone woman journalist who died a martyr to the truth, one year ago.

Politkovskaya: Human Being

Anna Politkovskaya: Human Being

by Anne Applebaum

She wasn’t charismatic, she didn’t fill lecture halls and she wasn’t much good at talk shows either. Nevertheless, at the time of her murder in Moscow Saturday, Anna Politkovskaya was at the pinnacle of her influence. One of the best-known journalists in Russia and one of the best-known Russian journalists in the world, she was proof — and more is always needed — that there is still nothing quite so powerful as the written word.

The subject of Politkovskaya’s writing was Russia itself, and in particular what she called Russia’s “dirty war” in Chechnya. Long after the rest of the international press corps had abandoned Chechnya — it was too dangerous for most journalists, too complicated, too obscure — she kept telling heartbreaking Chechen stories. The Russian army colonel who pulled 89 elderly people from the ruins of Grozny but received no medals, or the Chechen schoolboy who was ill from the aftereffects of torture but could get no compensation. A hallmark of her books and articles was the laborious descriptions of how she tried, and invariably failed, to get explanations from hostile and evasive Russian authorities. But she had no patience for the fanatical fringe of the Chechen independence movement either. Ideologues on both sides of the war repelled her: What interested her were human stories, particularly when they concerned brave, kind, and honest ordinary people.

Over the years Politkovskaya won scores of international prizes. At home she was threatened, arrested and once nearly poisoned by the same Russian authorities who refused to respond to her questions. The only official acknowledgment of her status was backhanded: In 2002, when Chechen rebels stormed a Moscow theater, she was called upon to help negotiate the release of hostages. She failed to keep them alive – and then she was murdered too. On the afternoon of October 7, she was shot to death in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building.

Politkovskaya was not, it is true, the first Russian journalist to be murdered in murky circumstances since 2000, when President Vladimir Putin first came to power. On the contrary, she was the twelfth. Among the worst crimes — all, of course, unsolved — were the murders of two provincial journalists from the city of Togliatti, probably for investigating local mafia; of Paul Klebnikov , the American editor of Forbes magazine’s Russian edition, probably for knowing too much about Russia’s oligarchs; and of a Murmansk television reporter who was critical of local politicians.

Nevertheless, Politkovskaya’s murder marked a distinct turning point. Her assassin made no attempt to disguise his crime as a theft or an accident: He not only shot her in broad daylight, he left her body in the elevator alongside the gun he used to kill her — standard practice for Moscow’s arrogant hit men. Nor could her murder be easily attributed to distant provincial authorities or the criminal mafia. Local businessmen had no motivation to kill her — but officials of the army, the police and even the Kremlin did. Whereas local thieves might have tried to cover their tracks, Politkovskaya’s assassin, like so many Russian assassins, did not seem to fear the law.

At the time of the murder, no one in Russia expected that anyone would ever be arrested for murdering Politkovskaya. When asked about her death, President Putin himself dismissed her as a “person of no importance” – not an indication that Russian investigators are likely to waste time investigating her murder. But even if the assassin were someday to come to trial, he – or whoever paid him – had already won a major victory by killing her. As Russian history well demonstrates, it isn’t always necessary to kill millions of people to frighten all the others: A few choice assassinations, in the right time and place, usually suffice. After the death of Politkovskaya, it’s hard to imagine many Russian journalists following in her footsteps.

Even the most ardent fans of Anna Politkovskaya’s writing did complain, on occasion, that her gloom could be overbearing: She was one of those journalists who saw harbingers of catastrophe in every story. Still, it remains difficult for anyone to write about her, now that she is dead, without employing the same foreboding tone that she herself would have used. Her life, and her death, was so much like one of the stories she would have written herself.

Politkovskaya: Woman of Action

Politkovskaya: Woman of Action

by Svetlana Gannushkina
Civic Assistance Committee

Translated from the Russian By Zaxi Blog

In August 1996, during the storming of Grozny, one of most tragic episodes of the first Chechen campaign, when we were thrashing about in efforts to find any means possible of assisting the people fleeing the war, I suddenly received a call from Anna Politkovskaya.

By the first day of school on September 1, she wanted to publish a large portrait in the Obshchaya Gazeta newspaper at which she worked at the time of a Chechen child who, clutching a bouquet of flowers, was going to a Moscow school. That was her innocently inventive way of fighting the Chechen phobia.

I replied that unfortunately, the Chechen kids who ended up in Moscow would not be going to school this year. Moscow authorities had just adopted a resolution stating that only children whose parents had Moscow registration papers – or the old Soviet “propiska” – would be allowed to study in the capital. And these children’s parents not only have no propiska, but also no idea how they will find dinner for their children. The storming of Grozny is underway, and people are fleeing wherever their noses lead them. There is no one there to meet them in Moscow or in any of the other cities. Meanwhile, our organization is collecting money from friends and acquaintances to help the refugees feed themselves for just three or four days.

On the very next day, Anna Politkovskaya came to our reception office, brought the money she collected at her paper’s office, and took our and our visitors’ interviews. Following this visit, a series of vivid articles followed about the plight of Chechen and other refugees in Moscow.

Our acquaintance began with that call, which was followed by a collaboration that lasted until the last days of Anna Politkovskaya’s life. During the second Chechen campaign, Chechnya had turned into Anna’s main subject and place to which she traveled constantly. Chechnya transformed her, becoming the essence of her life

Her articles about the second Chechen campaign were for many people the only opportunity available to learn the truth, if that had still retained any desire to learn it. She not only wrote, she intervened in people’s fates, demanded answers from investigators, prosecutors, and the military. She was threatened, and not only in Moscow with phone calls and letters, but also at the scene in Chechnya, where she was threatened with immediate vigilante justice. I doubt that Anna was not afraid – it was just that the things happening around her were so frightening that personal fear vanished somewhere into the background, becoming less prominent.

Anna responded to every appeal for help, to every anguished cry of pain. Our last work together was when Anna interviewed me in the August of last year. This was one month after the night of July 12-13, 2006, when a group of young kids was slaughtered on the Chechen-Dagestani border. The kids were drawn there by provocateurs, which then dressed them up into camouflage outfits and led them into Chechnya, where they met a barrage of gunfire.

Information about an averted terrorist act crossed all the international new agencies and could not be received as anything but a major victory in the fight against terrorism – now threatening Chechnya from outside its borders, since in the words of Ramzan Kadyrov, almost all of the bandits have been destroyed in Chechnya itself.

The kids were recruited in the Khasavyurt region of Dagestan, where I arrived on August 16 and where over a stretch of two days, I came across 17 families that in July suffered a terrible tragedy. The mothers told me how their kids were being invited to come out to the sea, to talk about the fate of the Chechen people, and that they were then dressed up as rebel fighters. The youngest one among them was 14. Thirteen boys were killed, five were wounded and miraculously escaped alive.

I returned to Moscow to discover that besides an appeal to the prosecutor not to sue the survivors and to investigate the provocation instead, I was unable to write a thing myself. Then I called Anna, told her about my trip and offered her to take my notes for her work. Anna came immediately, we went through my notes together, and a day later an article came out in which the truth was told about the brutal bloodbath in Khasavyurt.

That is how she wrote – quickly and honestly, not giving herself pause for rest and showing herself no mercy. And Anna demanded the same intensity from us – those who by custom are called human rights campaigners. She had the right to do so.

Her voice started ringing so loudly that it was being heard in the remotest corners of our little world. And it sounds today, it sounds after being picked up by hundreds of other voices across the globe.

I would very much like to see thousands of people from across the world come to Moscow on October 7 of this year. Just to visit the cemetery, to walk through the streets of Moscow with Anna Politkovskaya’s portrait. To show those who believed the words of the Russian President, that her “influence on the political life of Russia was minimal,” just how wrong he was.

Her influence will keep stretching. Her articles will stand up to indifference and passivity, to gnaw the conscience. Anna Politkovskaya will stay with us. Her voice will still sound for a long time to come – for as long as there \those who need protection, whose pain has not been assuaged. New generations will read her articles, and it will help them accept the burden of responsibility for what is happening in our world.

Politkovskaya: Colleague

Here is what Anna’s colleagues at Novaya Gazeta wrote about her as their collective remembrance, translated lovingly by La Russophobe staff, with the Russian original following:

One said: She was beautiful. And as time passed, she only became more beautiful. You know why? Because she through her own labors she improved on the handiwork of God. Life itself, the act of living, made her more beautiful with each passing day.

Another added: As a person ages, she begins to express her soul. Her soul was beautiful.

She was feminine. Skillful. Charmingly ready to joke, laugh or cry out loud at injustice. Any injustice, against anyone, was perceived as a personal attack upon her. And fought against injustice until the very last opportunity. She was amazingly courageous. Where will you find a braver person? Among the many machismo gentlemen surrounded by their armored jeeps and their bodyguard. Not there, surely, not there.

She was threatened. They tried to intimidate her by organizing surveillance and searches. She was arrested in Chechnya by “our troops” and threatened with being shot on the spot. She was poisoned when she flew to Beslan. It emerged only later. Although she survived, she was weakened and sick at heart.

Many, even her friends Novaya Gazeta, sometimes said : “Well, Politkovskaya reports rumor.” Not true! She always wrote the truth. But there were many times that the truth she told was so horrible, her readers lacked the courage to believe it, and responded with the psychological defense mechanism that her stories had been invented. Sometimes even we ourselves did that.

Indeed, it may be an ordinary human’s greatest challenge to look horror directly in the eye. We fear that if we look directly into the eyes of evil, we might not ever get the chance to look away, that it will consume us. But Anya looked evil in the eye, and lived to tell about it, surviving challenges mere mortal eyes could not endure.

For us she remains alive. We do not accept her passing. Her murderers, and their masters, we will seek them out, wherever they may be hiding.

And not for Anya alone. Two other colleagues have also been struck down. Igor Domnikov. Yuri Shchekochikhin. And now our Anya. When they struck her down, they killed not only a journalist, not only a human rights activitist, not only a citizen. They killed a beautiful woman and a mother.

As long as there is a Novaya Gazeta, these murderers will have no peace.

* * *

Она была красивой. Причем с годами становилась только красивее. Знаете почему? А просто свое лицо мы сначала получаем от Бога как заготовку, а потом делаем его сами. Тем, как живем.

Еще говорят: в зрелости на лице начинает проступать душа. Ее душа — красивая.
Она была женственной. Умела очаровательно смеяться удачной шутке и плакать от несправедливости. Но любую несправедливость — по отношению к кому бы то ни было — она воспринимала как личного врага. И боролась с ней до последней возможности.
Она была удивительно мужественной. Куда мужественнее многих и многих мачо в бронированных джипах, окруженных телохранителями.

Ей угрожали, ее пытались запугать, устраивая слежки и обыски. Ее арестовывали в Чечне «наши» десантники и угрожали расстрелом. Ее отравили, когда она летела в Беслан. Она выкарабкалась. И хотя здоровой после этого уже не была, сильнее всего у нее по-прежнему болела совесть.

Многие, даже доброжелатели «Новой газеты», порой говорили: «Ну, ваша Политковская — уж слишком…». Не слишком! Она всегда писала правду. Другое дело, что эта правда часто бывала столь ужасной, что сознание многих отказывалось ее воспринимать. И отсюда — как защитная реакция — это «уж слишком». Иногда — даже у нас в редакции.

Наверное, самое трудное для обычного человека — не отворачиваться от того, что страшно. Но если смотреть злу прямо в глаза, оно не выдерживает, пасует. Аня смотрела злу прямо в глаза. И, может быть, поэтому выходила победительницей из тяжелейших ситуаций. И, может быть, поэтому оставалась живой там, где опустивший глаза не выжил бы.

Для нас она и остается живой. Со смертью нашей Ани мы не смиримся никогда. И кто бы ни взял под свой контроль это зверское убийство — в центре Москвы, посреди бела дня, — мы сами будем искать убийц. Мы догадываемся, где они могут находиться…

Как там в России обстоят дела с независимыми СМИ? Этот вопрос обсуждается то в Европе, то в Америке. А в «Новой газете» за последние годы убито три ведущих журналиста.
Игорь Домников. Его убийцы — благодаря усилиям честных следователей и самой газеты — предстали перед судом.

Юрий Щекочихин. Даже родным власти отказали в законном праве ознакомиться с результатами вскрытия… Но мы продолжаем свое расследование. И убийцы будут наказаны.

Сейчас — наша Аня Политковская… Они убили не только журналистку, правозащитницу и гражданина, они убили красивую женщину и маму.

Пока есть «Новая газета», ее убийцы не будут спать спокойно.