Anna Politkovskaya was an outstanding woman, devoted writer, and Human Rights activist. On October 7th 2006, a group of cowards assassinated her because they were afraid to face the truth. She was murdered because she exposed the crimes of the Russian government. Throughout the years Politkovskaya had been tracked down, followed, and investigated but that did not discourage her. Even after several failed assassination attempts, she kept going because she knew that she possessed a gift that was no match for the Russian government. She had the gift of writing, and wrote about the facts. Anna revealed the secrets that government tried kept hidden, and exposed their evil deeds. Even though her life was at stake she never gave up, she knew that it was her duty to keep the world informed. The world will never forget her. We salute Anna Politkovskaya.
posted by Justice For North Caucasus - Anna Politkovskaya. on July, 2001 as Anna Politkovskaya
THE INVISIBLE WAR By: David Hearst Source: The Guardian (UK), 14 July 2001; through Johnson’s Russia List. "A Dirty War" Anna Politkovskaya 336 pp, Harvill, £12 David Hearst reads brave dispatches from Chechnya, a land where there is officially no conflict, in A Dirty War by Anna Politkovskaya, and hopes that the truth will out. There is a corner of what is still geographically known as Europe where anything goes. Here you can raze cities to the ground and call it an "anti-terrorist operation". You can round up the inhabitants of a village, shoot them in broad daylight, and come back for more the next day. You can chuck grenades into shelters packed with the sick and elderly. You can loose off a volley of missiles into a busy marketplace. As a country’s leader you can do all this, and still retain voting rights on the Council of Europe. President Bush may even invite you to stay on his ranch. This distant land is called Chechnya, and the most sobering part of this tragedy is that it continues to this day, right under our noses. As Slobodan Milosevic stands to face his accusers in the UN war crimes tribunal in what is seen as a remarkable triumph for international justice, Chechnya remains a distant blur, beyond the reach of international courts. Here, too, crimes against humanity have been committed. But there are no real commissions of inquiry, no indictments, no extradition warrants. Officially there is no war. Russia’s return match for the humiliation it received in the first Chechen war of 1994-96 is of a ferocity that makes Macedonia, Kosovo, even Sarajevo at the height of the siege, pale in comparison. All but a handful of international human rights organisations ignore it. So too do most journalists. Chechnya has disappeared off the radar screen of the international news agenda, as it has off Russian TV screens. This is in part because the current campaign is still overwhelmingly popular. The disintegration of peacetime Chechnya into a bandit state, the incursion of two of its warlords into a neighbouring multi-ethnic north Caucasian state and a terrorist campaign in which more than 200 Muscovites died in a series of apartment-block bombings have given the Russian army, police and Federal Security Service forces carte blanche to "restore constitutional order" in the statelet. The radio silence from Chechnya is also down to the fact that few journalists are willing to risk life and limb to report it. Reporters, whether from rich western news organisations or poor Russian ones, risk kidnap if they go into the war zone from the Georgian border, while on the Russian side the war front is almost entirely closed down. Gone are the days when reporters and satellite dishes were free to roam between the Grad missile batteries on the hills overlooking Grozny and the squads of Chechen fighters in green bandannas defending the city. At least in one respect, Russia has learned the lesson of the first war. A handful of reporters, mainly women, think it worth the huge risks. Anna Politkovskaya was held and threatened by the very soldiers whose mistreatment of suspects she was there to report. Her dispatches make compelling reading. In a series of articles published by her newspaper Novaya Gazeta from July 1999 to January this year, Politkovskaya chronicles the deathly thud of the Russian war machine and the anguished cries of those crushed in its tread. Politkovskaya prefers to ignore the warmongers (although she interviews one Russian general who revels in the title "the cruel Shamanov"). Instead, she concentrates on the little people - the man who runs Laboratory 124, still trying to identify the bodies of the last war; the women from the Daghestani village wiped out by the marauding Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev; the OMON footsoldier eating tins of rotten meat and the butcher in Semikarakorsk who provides them. Politkovskaya discovers that Russia is like an echo chamber. If she has to act as its lost moral conscience, she rapidly finds she has few supporters. There are few institutions to which she can refer. There is no redress. There is a rule of rules, but no rule of law. When Politkovskaya howls with indignation, her rage echoes around an empty parking lot. She loses her temper as she talks to that butcher flogging rotten meat to the army: "You’re a real bastard, aren’t you? Are you really too thick to understand that your rotten meat may be the last thing one of those young soldiers ever eats?" There is an unpleasant, disparaging laugh: "Fax us your questions, and if we see the necessity, we’ll provide answers." Without a word of farewell, he slams down the receiver. "You want to know his name of course..." She gives it, plus his telephone numbers. After a gruelling account of her paper’s vain efforts to evacuate the starved residents of an old people’s home in Grozny, Politkovskaya comes to a weighty conclusion - not that the Russian state is all-powerful, but that it does not really exist. "The situation has become quite intolerable," she says. "What earthly use to me is the Putin we see, prancing about on the TV and telling us that he’s going to ‘wipe out’ the bandits after they have been cornered in the ‘shithouse’? I want a Putin who will defend the weak - according to the constitution our state exists, first and foremost, for the good of the people... Not the man who, in front of the TV cameras, climbed into the cockpit of a bomber wearing a pilot’s helmet that was evidently the wrong size, but someone who will go to the Staropromyslovsky district and visit the Grozny old people’s home." She may have a long time to wait. The more the Russians bomb the Chechens into submission, the wilder and more battered the land becomes. The people, too, get larger than life, inviting comparisons with fictional characters. There is the main ideologue of the campaign, Colonel-General Valery Manilov, who is nothing like Gogol’s character, but just as grotesque: "Manilov, his face red after telling the latest lie about ‘only 400 dead’, half listened to my story: of Misha Moshtyrev’s unclaimed body, of the wounded soldiers who were, for some reason, brought to a district hospital in Ingushetia, and of the chronic shortage there of medicines and equipment. Disgruntled with what he was hearing, Manilov turned to his aide: ‘Write that down. We’ll investigate.’ His aide began slowly and unwillingly to draw his pen across the page, but quickly abandoned this unrewarding task. ‘It’s a pack of lies,’ he retorted, and disappeared into the crowd behind his hefty boss’s uniform." This week the commander of Russian forces in Chechnya was forced to admit for the first time that his soldiers had committed "widespread crimes", inflicting beatings and electric shocks on 1,500 civilians in two villages. Meanwhile, Politkovskaya was awarded Amnesty’s prestigious Global award for human-rights journalism. Maybe there is yet hope that the truth will out. It can only help Russia’s cause.
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