Anna Politkovskaya, murdered in her Moscow apartment building on 7 October 2006, was one of the few Russian journalists reporting on events in Chechnya. An illustrated article by her on torture there had been due to appear on 9 October in the twice-weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Her killer did not even trouble to hide his face or deactivate the building’s surveillance camera. He has not yet been identified.
Politkovskaya, who had two children, was born in 1958 in New York, where her Russian-Ukrainian parents were Soviet diplomats for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She studied journalism at Moscow University and in 1982 began working for the newspaper Izvestia, and later for the airline Aeroflot. From 1994 to 1999, she was an editor with Obschchaya Gazeta and from 1999 with Novaya Gazeta.
She was well-known for her coverage of Chechnya, which she had visited more than 40 times. In 1998, she interviewed Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and was the only Russian journalist who reported on the second Chechnya war that began in 1999.
Politkovskaya’s commitment went far beyond journalism. She sometimes went before courts with Russian women whose sons had been killed in Chechnya, and she served as a mediator during the September 2002 Moscow theatre hostage-taking. An apparent attempt to poison her while on her way to report on the school hostage-taking in Beslan (Ossetia) in September 2004 prevented her from covering the event, in more than three hundred people were killed.
As well as her journalism, she had published several books on Russia and Russian policy in Chechnya and had become very well-known in the West.
Politkovskaya tackled many taboo subjects in her reporting and openly criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin. “As long as he’s in power, Russia won’t be a democratic country,” she said. She also heavily criticised Chechnya’s pro-Russian president, Ramzan Kadyrov.
She had received death threats which in 2001 drove her into exile in Austria. Friends said she had felt threatened in recent months but refused to consider going into exile again.
Politkovskaya received many awards for her courageous search for the truth, including the Russian Union of Journalists’ Golden Pen Prize (2000), the International Pen Club Prize (2002), the OSCE’s Journalism and Democracy Prize (2003) and the Olof Palme Prize (2004).
Sign the petition calling for an international commission of enquiry in order to establish the truth about Anna Politkovskaya’s murder on 7 October in Moscow
Sign the petition calling for an international commission of enquiry in order to establish the truth about her murder (WWW.RSF.ORG)