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In memory of Politkovskaya
Written by   
, 09 2013

Memory is increasingly a rarity these days. Itdisappears somewhere beneath the murky layers of unconscious time, somewhere consistently and deliberately edited from the minds of the well-fed for the sake of peace of mind in their gray matter. Donot remember, do not think, and do not know that is the truth that the majority places on a pedestal. Memory for them is dangerous; they do not need it because it can raise doubts about their ownpiety.

Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist from ‘Novaya Gazeta’ who was murdered in 2006, was remembered on the 7th of October in many cities around the world. Hername is born by streets and parks in Rome, Tbilisi, Milan, and Paris. Thisyear a collective act of memory took place in the city of Samara. Ittook place, and, perhaps, became something greater.

On October 7, the Samara House of Journalists and Writers held a round table discussion in memory of Anna Politkovskaya. Representatives attended from the publications such as ‘Gagarin Park’, ‘Zasekin.ru’, ‘Novaya Gazeta in the Volga region’, ‘Svoboda Information Agency’, as well as Svetlana Zhdanov, head of the local Roskomnadzor (Russian FTC). Alsoattending were activists from non-governmental organizations, and bloggers.. Participants shared their thoughts and memories of Anna Politkovskaya, and discussed issues concerning the freedom of speech in Russia, Togliatti, and Samara.

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Sergey Kurt-Adzhiyev, chief of ‘Gagarin Park’ publishing:

“I'd like to talk about some simple things, that there is journalism, but first of all, the people engaged in journalism that is to say journalism, and not propaganda when they have any information, moreover they have information that is socially significant, then they try to publish and communicate it to the widest possible range of people. Unfortunately, most of Russian pseudo-journalism does not do so; it is engaged in propaganda. Toconvey information, to attempt things to help people, that is what Anna and Vyacheslav Izmailov and ‘Novaya Gazeta’ were all were doing: they freed two hundred and fifty of our soldiers out of Chechen captivity, soldiers who were simply abandoned by the motherland. Probably everyone is aware of our own ‘Prisoner of the Caucasus’, Svetlana Ivanovna Kuzmina. Vyacheslav Yakovlevich Izmailov got her out of there. ‘Anka’ not only wrote about things, she was trying to bring everything to a logical conclusion so that something would happen. Perhaps many have forgotten when ‘Nord-Ost’ happened and the first who went in there were Anna and Romka Shleinov from ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Theywere allowed to bring in water, and later, in fact, they started negotiations at ‘Nord-Ost’. Theywere later joined there by Roshal and the others and got some children out. Theysaved some. Whatis happening now, since Iknow first-hand, Iknow first-hand about the trial of the murderers There is a second trial, and there are constantly disputes. Noone’s going to go looking for whomever it was who ordered (the murder of Anna Politkovskaya). Ithink ‘Novaya Gazeta’ will deal with this as long as necessary, because ‘Novaya Gazeta’ is still out there trying to get to the bottom of the first journalist they lost, Igor Domnikov. Members of Tagiryanovsky gang were all jailed, but whoever is was who ordered the hit is still at large and no one’s looking into it. Theysame thing will happen with Anna’s (murderer), like Muratov said: We won’t get justice here it’ll go on and on and on. Icannot speak from the pathos and pain. Ibelieve that this is a sad day for Russian journalism, perhaps we should just stand up and have a moment of silence in memory of Anna, and that’s it.”


Sergey Leibgrad, editor of the web portal ‘Zasekin.ru’:

“I also had, Ibelieve, the honor of being personally acquainted with Anna Politkovskaya. Itwas in 2004, at the first Civil Society Forum in Moscow, which was put on by ‘Novaya Gazeta’ and Garry Kasparov. Ido not remember if there was anyone else among the organizers. There was a media section, and for around ten hours we were there, sitting at the same table, and later we chatted. Butthat is not the point. OnceMaldenshtam wrote some famous lines, which everyone constantly recalls: We live, not feeling the country under us, and our speech is not audible ten steps away. Itseems to me that after Anna Politkovskaya was no more, after she was killed, once again we live not feeling the country under us, because it was Anna Politkovskaya, not even journalists like her, it was Anna Politkovskaya especially who gave us this opportunity, who gave us sound, breath, information, understanding, a sense of how and where we live, how we are gliding above a pit, an abyss, and how to escape from it. Andhere in this vein the (submarine) Kursk, Beslan, 'Nord-Ost', and the death of Anna Politkovskaya these are for me, maybe in a symbolic sense, all in the same vein. These are as such the funerals of a nation, of a way of life, of a way of thinking, of self-expression, freedom and dignity and everything we all dreamed about, everything that appeared and seemingly drew close at the beginning of the nineties, everything that we have now lost, and it is our own fault. Fromthe fact that there practically never were any people like Anna Politkovskaya they were very rare. Today we say we have an opposition, that we have a resistance, but an opposition is not simply declarations or protest marches. Itis those things, but not only. Anopposition most of all is confident, united, honest, unsullied, and intensely professional. Ithas bold, decisive action, and is active. Kouchner said: The act is a reality that is nothing less than genius. Herewas Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist where it was difficult to separate, as Sergei said, word and deed. Shewas as such a real and genuine opposition. Thatis why we today are commemorating the seventh anniversary of the day when Anna Politkovskaya was no longer with us. And, of course, that space we are located in is so rarified that it begs the question if we even have an opposition, if we even have a resistance, if we really wish to learn the truth. Unfortunately a large part of our society, including members of the media, does not wish to know. Thatis why we are remembering Anna Politkovskaya at our meeting today, a meeting that is taking place in the House of Journalists like some kind of semi-clandestine underground gathering, a Last Supper. AnnaPolitkovskaya, Ialso dislike pathos, but just as we are sitting here, she was a true apostle of the Freedom of Speech, without frills. AnnaPolitkovskaya was very complex, sharp and decisive. Shewas not a nice person. Ifwe had real freedom of speech and democracy, there would be controversy it would be harsh and we would have to think hard on whose side we were. Butthat would be the real emergence of resistance, a real piece of a free press and freedom of speech, which we used to have in our country. Butit is utterly uncompelling and nondeclarative, and so here she was very inconvenient. Shewas inconvenient to many and for all, because she was trying, as best she knew how, to work for the maximum because she really wanted freedom of speech, which was very, very inconvenient. AndI am not talking about the authorities, but of this abyss, this darkness that killed her. Isay this: she could have been inconvenient to those who wanted to be the opposition but never had an effect on her, whoever it was that was playing at this. Herewas something real it really was freedom of speech. Youknow, there is the concept of freedom of speech ‘for’ something, and freedom of speech ‘from’ something. Webelieve that freedom of speech for something should always be ordinary. Itcan be for anything, but real freedom of speech is contrary to everything, because it is self-sufficient, it is valuable in and of itself. Onlythen can we understand who we are, why we are, what we are, and what is going on. AnnaPolitkovskaya is no more. Ido hope that every October 7th there will gather more and more people who can not articulate what they know, that they are opposed to something, that they are simply living. Andin this sense, of course, Anna Politkovskaya is something real and a symbolic event for us, and if we do not rely on it or look at it, or if we forget about it, then we cannot exist today. Herewe are unable to exist, but we do exist because after all there was an Anna Politkovskaya, and here is this energy that emanated from her because her gestures were, in the most positive sense of the word, radical and journalistic and human. Andwe are in this energy field, and Ithink that until the very end she continues to influence many who wanted to be silent and keep silent and do nothing, but on falling into this energy field they do things due to Anna Politkovskaya in particular.”


Alexander Lashmankin, editor of ‘Svoboda’:

“Only one time did Iever see Anna Stepanovna in person. Idid not know her. Itwas in a very, so to speak, private situation. Iwas at the incorporation meeting of the Party of Soldiers’ Mothers, and she was there too, since this subject was very dear to her. SoI saw her. Idid not dare to speak with her, even though Ifelt that is was really important to get acquainted with her and to talk with her, but for some reason Ihesitated to disturb her. Apparently it was in vain; Ishould not have hesitated. Ithat think Iwould have something to tell you now, had Ionly had this personal experience. Here, unfortunately, my decisiveness was not great enough at that time. Whatdo Iwish to say, what did Iconsider important in the given situation? Journalists, as was the fate of Anna Politkovskaya, are always in the line of fire if they are honest journalists. Theyare people who are ready to work with information according to the standards of the profession to which they were called. Andin fact, deviating from the event itself, what do we see? Wesee the ongoing situation where journalists are victims of repression, dare Isay it, on the part of the state. Buthere is the latest case when a photographer from ‘Lenta.ru’ on the ship ‘Artic Sunrise’, Denis Sinyankov, was arrested and accused of piracy. Tome this is absurd situation from every angle: on the one hand he is accused of piracy, while on the other he is a journalist accused of piracy in the performance of his professional duties. Thequestion as to who hired him is secondary to the fact that he is a journalist and acting within the law governing the mass media of in the Russian Federation, and what they are always talking about is what guides our legislative power. Wesee that the state does not protect a journalist in the performance of his duties, but more often than not it hinders him, and in addition charges him as writing wild and foolish articles. Andthe case of Anna Politkovskaya can also be placed here, because we still do not know who it was who ordered (her murder), while the involvement of government officials among the defendants, i.e.: the FSB and MVD, forces us to assume anything and everything. Especially if you compare some of her statements such as found in her book, ‘Putin’s Russia’, as she writes: Why do Idislike Putin? Itis for this that Idislike him: For his simplicity, which is worse than theft. Forhis cynicism. Forhis racism. Forhis endless war. Forhis lying. Forhis gas at 'Nord-Ost'. Forthe corpses of innocent victims that accompanied of his whole first term. Forthe dead bodies, which might never havebeen.
There is, on the one hand, her sharply critical position, while on the other hand the cooperation of intelligence services passing as defendants. Well, Iallow anyone who wishes to draw his or her own conclusions. Iwould like to return to the Samara region again, perhaps unexpectedly, but here we also have two murdered journalists, not just journalists, but editors of a publication who were killed one after the other, and these crimes are still unsolved. Thatis, we do not know who it was who ordered (the crimes), but here, in contrast to the Anna Politkovskaya case, we do know who carried it out. Ithink that many people understand that Iam talking about Valeriy Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov, editors of the ‘Togliatti Review’. Howlong has it been? Along time. Progress in the case, however, is absent in principle. Whatdoes this mean: is it reluctance by the government to investigate this crime, or is it their impotence? Again this is a rhetorical question. Remember the case when they caught a locksmith with ‘Kuybyshev Nitrogen’ or some manager there? Hewas quickly accused, confessed in court, but then the case fell apart and he was cleared and if the search is still ongoing, there have not been any results.
So now, of course, those who dare practice journalism as it follows the standards of the profession are certainly at risk. Whatto do in this situation? Well, Ithink that perhaps this round table might help to find some solutions, if not conclusive, then at least some steps, some movement in that direction all the same. Asyou know, a free press is the foundation of a democratic society. Thatthere is a press, at least a remnant of a free press preserved in spite of pressures it receives from the authorities, if not given over to a stormy public, some sprouts, well, at least it would not be completely eliminated.”


The meeting then broke into lively discussion on the need to resolve something in support of freedom of speech in Samara. Theyspoke about the idea of creating a local school of citizen journalism, a possible legal status to protect media activists that might graduate from such schools from government pressure, the absence of sufficient numbers of professional journalists, the lack of interest in engaging in professional journalism and investigative reporting, and the need for some sort of a journalism club where interested people could meet regularly. Theparticipants also discussed that one cannot allow our freedom of speech to be limited under the present conditions “for reasons obvious to all”, and that something still needed to be done. “We all know that” followed by long list and ending with “but.” And this “but” sounded again and demanded an answer, which, perhaps, was the main result of the last memorial meeting.

In: ‘Novaya Gazeta in the Volga region


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Comments (1)
1. In memory of Politkovskaya
Written by bestro website, on 10-05-201911:18
raise the voice on terrorism victims

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