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In heaven there are a thousand blankpages
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, 06 2011

Anna Politkovskaya’s loved ones remember her

“The language has become smaller by one, diminishing us. Nowyour words, like the feathers of dead birds, are in dictionaries. Inheaven there are a thousand blank pages, pages you never finished “ It is almost as if Joseph Brodsky were not eulogizing W.H.Auden, but Anya.

How many years have we been without Anna Politkovskaya 2, 3, 4, 5? Yes, five years already. Still, strange as it sounds, in the early years it seemed easier than it is now. Backthen, along with the pain, many still clenched their fists and were still courageous. Butthen there was the trial, and as the Politkovskaya family lawyers so vividly expressed it, the court took up the “torso” of the crime, but not the “head” that is, whomever it was who ordered her murdered, nor the “arms and legs” those who committed the crime were not in the dock, either. Thatwas then, while now on this day, the fifth anniversary of her murder; it is simply torture to talk about the investigation. There has certainly been progress, however one suspect is in jail, and the organizer of the murder has been established, but whoever ordered her murder, and paid for it, they are still being sought.

Perhaps it would be better to talk about this on another day, but not today.

Three years ago, Anna would have been 50. Onthat anniversary we categorically refused to discuss the investigation. Themotivation for our unwillingness was quite different back then. Wesaid: “There will be other days for that, there will trials, and the tragic date October 7th. Today we are not talking about murder, but Anya’s birthday, and on this date only those closest to her will talk about her they talk as if gathered around the table, remembering their favorite stories, tall tales, and funny episodes. Theytalk about a living Anya who simple turned invisible. Butshe is nearby.” (From ‘Novaya Gazeta’, #63, August 28th, 2008, “Anya is nearby. Afamily history in the stories of her mother, daughter, and sister.”)

Today is that tragic date: October 7th. Ithas been FIVE years since the day of her death, and today we will only talk to you about those close to her, and with them we will only talk about her.

Anna Politkovskaya's son, Ilya Politkovsky:

- Ilya, Iknow your mother’s colleagues from around the world have been tormenting you, and it is probably difficult for you even to remember how many times you have been asked to give interviews and commentary.

“It’s impossible to estimate or even imagine Sometimes Ispend the whole day giving interviews, non-stop. Thedemand increases especially around this date. Idon’t hide, Ianswer every question, and Ihave to, because otherwise discussion of the crime would have never gone anywhere, so for me it is an integral part of life.”

Have you dreamed of your mother during these fiveyears?

“I often dream about Mom, but Ican’t talk about it, and not because Idon’t want to, it’s just because my brain is so arranged that Idon’t remember my dreams. Sorry”

- What do you remember most about her?

“She said that because of the horrors she’d seen during her reporting, her outlook on life had changed dramatically. I’m also reexamining some of my values and worldviews. I’ve re-read a lot of what she’d written, and now Iagree that she did everything correctly, as a professional, and as a human being, but this wasn’t supposed to be my mom”

Mother should not have taken such risks?

“As a son Icould never agree that my mother should be in such a place, but let’s talk about something easier Youknow, Ioften still think about what a happy and warm a person my mom was, and how gently she would poke fun at my much too active interest in the opposite sex.”

- Yes, Iremember that, too. Oneday she was telling me a very funny story about your active interest and ‘victims’ when the phone rang. Doyou remember how we had to share a phone? Ourdesks were right up against each other, and that time Ipicked up the phone and your mother hears me say, Politkovskaya? Yes, hold on. What? What’s my name? Andwe both just started laughing.

“Yes, and she scolded me in much a funny way ‘How are you not ashamed? Paceyourself!’ At the same time Ifelt that she was absolutely certain that Iwould get through this stage, that it all just youthful energy. Ithink right now my mother is happy for me. I’ve found my love, and in my heart I’m sure that she would have liked this girl.”

Anna Politkovskaya’s mother, Raisa Alexandrovna Mazepa:

She refuses to see reporters. Shedoes not wish to talk to anyone about it. Sheis going through a roughtime.

There was one exception Raisa Alexandrovna agreed to meet with me back when Iwas preparing an article on Anya’s 50th jubilee. Wedrank ‘12 Herbs Tea’ and talked, perhaps, for around five hours straight. Certainly not everything made it into print. Today Raisa Alexandrovna had Ilya tell me that she has already said everything she was able back to back then and could add nothing, and that Icould do whatever Iwished with the recording of our conversation. Shewould never talk to another journalist.

So here once again Ihear her voice on my Dictaphone, surprisingly young and ringing, and Iremembered how she had less gray in her hair than Anya. WhenI said this out loud, in reply she immediately begins talking about her husband: “he did not have a single gray hair when he was buried. Henever had to go to the dentist until shortly before he died. Whenour girls were grown up, they always joked that they thought all men were as ideal as Dad. Hedidn’t drink or smoke. Heput his heart and soul into raising the children, and later the grandchildren.”

They lived together for 54years. Theymet after the war while attending night school, after the horrors of war were behind them both. Shewas from Kerch and was to be sent to Germany as forced labor, and only by some miracle escaped. Hewas drafted at 17, and served 8years because there is no one to replace him. Heattended the Moscow institute in his naval uniform, because he had no other clothes. Theygot married when they were in their third year, and the place they rented in Moscow was not an apartment or even a room, but a corner. Itwas not until 1962, after they had been working in America, that they were able to buy an apartment on the Frunze embankment, in one of the first Foreign Ministry cooperatives.

There were photos of Anya and her father, Stepan Mazepa, hanging near us, and now Iknow that every night Raisa Alexandrovna says to them: “Good night, guys.” Only then does she go to sleep. Onwaking up, she greets them: “Good morning, guys!”

Her maiden name is Novikova.

- “In school they called me ‘Novikov-Priboy’,” she says, and Ihear my laughter on thetape.

Why was that? Thatis out there.

-“Well, there was this writer, and they just liked to call me that, but Anya also had a funny story concerning her last name. Onthis one certain ship there were some other travelers who were saying that all misfortunes are due to those who have surnames like Politkovskaya well, sort of hinting at (Jewish) ethnicity. AndAnyuta up and tells them: ‘Did you happen to know that that’s my husband’s name, while my maiden name is Mazepa?’ They said: ‘Well, of course, nowadays everyone wants to be (the famous Ukrainian leader) Mazepa’. Theywouldn’t believe her. Whenmy husband was still alive, his nephew from Kharkov came and brought him this book that was printed in the Ukrainian language. Hisnephew discovered that Stepan was from the very same branch as the hetman. Hewas a direct descendent. Well, my husband laughs at that and says, ‘I’m reading this and suddenly Iremember Ukrainian’. Chernigov his school was taught in Ukrainian, but after the war he completed his education in Russian, together with me at night school”

And then, she talks once again about Anya.

- “She was always very brave. Youknow, Iusually picked up the kids after school. Well, there are many who pick up their children grandmas, grandpas, moms, and even occasionally a dad. Everyone there can see that in the locker room there are some high school students playing cards. It’s not good, but all the adults are ignoring it while waiting for their kids. Andsuddenly Anya comes from out of nowhere, she got out early, apparently, and decided to relieve me, and Isee she’s coming, but Idon’t even catch her eye because right away she sees these gamblers and, without thinking twice, grabs one of them by the collar and says: ‘What's going on here? You're coming with me.’
“Everyone was amazed. Noone had done anything, the men or the women. Teens, you know, can get aggressive. Younever know That’s exactly how Anya was. Shecould never be any otherway.
“And there was the time when there was a bodyguard following her everywhere.”

- Ialso remember that. Hestood just outside the editor’s office, lookingbored.

-“The same at home. Itell her: ‘It’s not right that he’s sitting outside the door, let’s invite him to the table’. Shesays: ‘Mom, let him be bored! Ican’t have this, because a journalist can’t have a tail’.” After a pause, Raisa Alexandrovna adds: “Lord! Howcould they raise their hand against a woman?”

I am thinking, Raisa Alexandrovna, what are you talking about? Theyhave no such notions. Whatis the difference to them if it is a man, or a woman, if they themselves are asexual beings consisting of nothing but fear? Theyare afraid, and so they do their killing on the sly, from behind a wall, or in an elevator. Shecould do things in the light, or in court, but they had to hide andsneak.

What follows is a direct quote from what has already been published, but it is important, and really nothing is more important: “For so long we tried talking her out of going to Chechnya, but she replied: ‘Who should go? Ifnot me, then who?’ We were afraid for her, and yet we were proud. Stepan collected absolutely everything she published; he clipped them out and wrote on them the day and year.”

He would have had a lot of clipping todo!

“Yes, but he clipped out everything. Yuri, my son-in-law, my older daughter Lena’s husband, he said that Stepan died going to see the woman he loved. Ifelt sick and it turned out that Ihad to go to the hospital right away, and Stepan asked his daughter: ‘Anya, maybe she doesn’t have to go? Isit that serious?’ but Anya said ‘yes, it’s serious, it can’t wait’

“He came to visit me in the hospital. Hebrought homemade juice and talked with the doctor. Onthe day of my operation, he called me up and said: ‘you know what, I’m coming over’. Itried to talk him out of it, but he called a second time to find out if Ineeded anything I’d forgotten. Butwhat can your need right before surgery, especially in a hospital where they have everything? Hesaid ‘well, I’m on my way’. That’s how he said it the last thing hesaid.

“I waited for him. Visiting hours were already over, but there’s no sign of him. Stepan had already gotten off the subway and started asking this woman where the trolleybus stops, or where was the bus that goes to the hospital. Shestarted to show him, but he turns ashen before her eyes. Early the next morning, they hadn’t even taken temperatures yet, and here they come and give me a shot, and right after that in walks Lena with Anya, and when Isaw Lena, who lives in London, here Ialready knew everything: ‘Girls, grandpa’s dead?’”

-You were supposed to be operated on?

“Yes, and here in walks the doctor, who says the operation’s ready, no time for funerals Twoweeks later, in the morning, before they’d taken temperatures, in they come with a shot again, and just like before the door opens, but with Lena, instead of Anya, there was Yuri, Lena’s husband, and my first words to them were: ‘They killed Anya?’

“Dad would never have survived Anyutka's death, if he couldn’t handle me (being ill).”

Anna Politkovskaya’s daughter, Vera Politkovskaya:

“We talked together so much that now it’s enough just to look at Facebook to see she’s alright. Hereshe reports that she even surprises herself sometimes: ‘Had Iknown during my long-ago childhood and adolescence that years later there would be hanging in my kitchen a cheesecloth dripping with milk curds I’d made myself this is somehow so unreal’.”

There is a small Anna Politkovskaya growing up with Vera. AnnaPolitkovskaya never saw her granddaughter she was not allowed to live that long but she knew about her, and awaitedher.

- “Somehow, at her summer cottage, in only two months Mom was able to bring in a whole garden full of onions, fennel, and carrots all organic foods, no chemicals, and her grandchild was only supposed to eat such things,” Vera told me. “I could never imagine Mother working the furrows.”

Is not making your own curds also “working the furrows”? Itall continues

Events dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s death:

The premiere of ‘Elsa K’. Theplay is based on materials from the case of murdered Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva, a case that was also investigated by Anna Politkovskaya. Thecast consists of three voices. Themale voiceover reads the documented facts, while the two women’s voices are Elsa and Anna. Theauthor is Andrea Riscassi, and the play premieres at 9pm, October 68at the Teatro del Borgo, Milan.

On October 7th the Norwegian Helsinki Group is holding a workshop, titled: “Five years after the death of Anna Politkovskaya. Thelegacy of Anna.”

October 711, “Days of Anna Politkovskaya”. There will be the premiere of a play based on her book “Russian Diary” and a screening of the film “Letter to Anna”. Discussion is to be held within the framework of the Forum 2000international conference, organized by VlacavHavel.

October 13. The“For freedom and the future of the media” award by the Leipzig endowment for the media. Eachyear the foundation awards journalists demonstrating outstanding work and having made a special contribution to the preservation of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. In2005, the prize was awarded to Anna Politkovskaya. Thisyear, in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, a prize in a separate category will be awarded in hername.

Amnesty International will hold a memorial event dedicated to Anna Politkovskaya in the main square on October 7th. Every half-hour, passages from Anna's books will be read in Russian and German.

By Galina Mursalayeva, in ‘Novaya Gazeta’, #112, October 7th, 2011


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Comments (2)
Written by website, on 08-10-201106:51
7 , , , 帠.


, Amnesty International, ,
2. Anna Politkovskaya Square
Written by 'Novaya gazeta", on 09-10-201104:35
On October 7th, the fifth anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil will host the opening of a square bearing hername.

Anna Politkovskaya Square is located near the cathedral of St. Peter.

Attending the opening ceremony will be the Mayor of Montreuil, Dominique Voine, as well as representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights League, the Women\'s Home of Montreuil, and Galina Ackerman, historian and translator of Anna Politkovskayasworks.

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