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Silencing a Voice of Truth: The Murder of Anna Politkovskaya | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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She had barely exited her building’s elevator, less than ten days ago, when the prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot three times and was instantly killed. And just to confirm that she had really died, the murderer pointed his gun to her head and fired a fourth bullet. He then surveyed the scene around him, going down to the lobby to stare squarely into the surveillance camera in a corner in the hall and then nonchalantly walked out on light feet.

The criminal assigned with the mission of killing Anna, accomplished it in broad daylight, leaving the victim lying on the ground next to the gun he had used to shoot her with in the very same manner reserved for the arrogant assassins of the Russian mafia. But Anna Politkovskaya is not the first Russian journalist to be murdered under suspicious circumstances. In fact, eleven journalists have recently been killed in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s era, Anna herself having previously been targeted and had received various death threats. But if her murderer was a thief or an ordinary criminal, he might have tried to exert some effort to conceal the evidence of his crime. Yet, the facts confirm that the criminal was careful to exhibit his indifference to any consequences in the aftermath.

Inasmuch as it’s true that this crime is a replica of the many crimes rampant in Russia, it also remains true that terrorizing the public does not require killing a lot of people. Strategic selection of people and certain times would suffice to deliver the message. When asked about the murder of one of Russia’s most distinguished journalists, President Putin replied by saying that Politkovskaya had only had a minor impact on political life and that her murder serves to remind us, once again, that nothing can top the power and supremacy of the published word. A fearless critic, she constantly criticized the violation of human rights in Russia, the corruption of the judiciary system and the Putin administration. Anna was also one of the dedicated journalists who extensively covered the Chechen war. At a time when most journalists avoided going to the highly volatile Chechnya, Politkovskaya was reporting horror stories right from the center of where it was happening. She expanded on her work after she published a book on a war which she described as “filthy”. According to sources, Anna was about to publish a report that would have revealed new atrocities in Chechnya promptly before her death. Today, after her assassination, it seems quite difficult to imagine that Russian journalists would dare go to Grozny.

Although acquaintances agree that Politkovskaya, in her forties when she died, had a piercing gaze but not a charismatic personality, she also dimmed in comparison to other journalists who were more eloquent in television interviews. However, there was unanimous agreement on her unmatched courage, honesty, and the sincerity and compassion she expressed in her writings about Russia, which in turn forced her into isolation since the major Russian media avoided hosting her as they were being blackmailed by the Kremlin. One of Vladimir Putin’s severest critics, she published a brazen book about the Kremlin’s authoritative rule and the corruption of the president’s administration. Politkovskaya realized that Putin’s success in marketing his policies in the West was achieved under the banner of a war on terrorism, which is the reason why he was relieved of international pressure. And she was murdered.

Media is one of the main sources of anxiety for those who abuse human rights and neglect the rights of groups. It is one of the many indicators that the Soviet dream has come back to entice Russian parties once more.