Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anna Politkovskaya in her own words -- "I am a pariah"

By Aussiegirl

There are always those people amongst us who refuse to bow to tyranny and oppression. It has been so throughout history. They are the rare ones who would rather sacrifice their lives than not tell the truth or stand for freedom and justice. Sadly, they also often become martyrs -- for tyrants have no compunctions about murder. Are we once again heading into a dark age? A world dominated by murderers, thugs and tyrants?

Her Own Death, Foretold - washingtonpost.com

Anna Politkovskaya imagined her own death long before it arrived. For years, she was Russia's most fearless journalist, reporting for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta from the killing fields of Chechnya and exposing the brutality of the Kremlin's war under President Vladimir Putin. She received one death threat after another, and was detained and beaten by Russian troops who threw her into a pit, threatened to rape her and performed a mock execution. "If it were up to me," an officer told her, "I'd shoot you."

Someone finally decided it was up to him. Politkovskaya's body was discovered in her Moscow apartment building last weekend with bullets in her head and chest, a Makarov pistol tossed at her feet. Her killing at age 48 came two months after she wrote this previously unpublished essay for "Another Sky," an English PEN book forthcoming from Profile Books in 2007.
I am a pariah.

That is the result of my journalism throughout the years of the Second Chechen War, and of publishing books abroad about life in Russia and the Chechen War. In Moscow, I am not invited to press conferences or gatherings that Kremlin officials might attend, in case the organizers are suspected of harboring sympathies toward me. Despite this, all the top officials talk to me, at my request, when I am writing articles or conducting investigations -- but only in secret, where they can't be observed, in the open air, in squares, in secret houses that we approach by different routes, like spies.

You don't get used to this, but you learn to live with it.

[...]So what is the crime that has earned me this label of not being "one of us"? I have merely reported what I have witnessed, no more than that. I have written and, less frequently, I have spoken. I am even reluctant to comment, because it reminds me too much of the imposed opinions of my Soviet childhood and youth. It seems to me that our readers are capable of interpreting what they read for themselves. That is why my principal genre is reportage, sometimes, admittedly, with my own interjections. I am not an investigating magistrate but somebody who describes the life around us for those who cannot see it for themselves, because what is shown on television and written about in the overwhelming majority of newspapers is emasculated and doused with ideology. People know very little about life in other parts of their own country, and sometimes even in their own region.

The Kremlin responds by trying to block my access to information, its ideologists supposing that this is the best way to make my writing ineffectual. It is impossible, however, to stop someone fanatically dedicated to this profession of reporting the world around us. My life can be difficult; more often, humiliating. I am not, after all, that young at 47 to keep encountering rejection and having my own pariah status rubbed in my face. But I can live with it.

I will not go into the other joys of the path I have chosen, the poisoning, the arrests, the threats in letters and over the Internet, the telephoned death threats, the weekly summons to the prosecutor general's office to sign statements about practically every article I write (the first question being, "How and where did you obtain this information?"). Of course I don't like the constant derisive articles about me that appear in other newspapers and on Internet sites presenting me as the madwoman of Moscow. I find it disgusting to live this way. I would like a bit more understanding.

The main thing, however, is to get on with my job, to describe the life I see, to receive visitors every day in our editorial office who have nowhere else to bring their troubles, because the Kremlin finds their stories off-message, so that the only place they can be aired is in our newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.


Post a Comment

<< Home