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“Mother’s murderers should get life in prison”
Written by Александр Елисов, Юрий Зайнашев, Наталья Алексеева   
Воскресенье, 08 Апрель 2007

By Alexander Yelisov, Yuri Zainashev, and Natalya Alexeeva, in Gazeta

The son of two celebrated journalists, Alexander Politkovsky and Anna Politkovskaya, 28 year-old Ilya always steered clear of journalists. In college he turned down all attempts to persuade him to enter the college of journalism, and he still refuses to participate in politics. He works, as he always has, in private business. Since October 7th of last year, Ilya Politkovsky has refused interviews with Russian journalists, but made an exception for Gazeta correspondents Alexander Yelisov and Yuri Zainashev, on the day when a half-year had passed since his mother’s death.

- Ilya, you perhaps have drawn a psychological portrait of the murder in your thoughts. Who is he? What moved him, was it revenge or cold calculation?

- It’s already common knowledge that he was no lone psychopath. The murder was prepared and carried out by a group of people, and it was a cold calculation, not vengeance, although the murder was thought up out of stupidity. These people weren’t from far away. To shoot her on Putin’s birthday, this was a slip-up on their end — they hadn’t counted on such a wide response. As a result they didn’t achieve either their tactical or global aims.

- Why is your sister Vera outside the country, but you and your family remain in Moscow? Aren’t you afraid?

- I have no reason to — there haven't been any threats. Besides, we are supposed to be available to the investigators. As far as Vera, well, you can go congratulate her — on March 11th she had a baby girl. It’s true that for the last few months Vera has been outside the country with our relatives in England, but she came back to give birth. The baby is remarkable and healthy. They named her Anna.

- Does this mean that family life is normal?

- The shock has passed. What remains is… It isn’t malice, it’s, I’d say, stubbornness. One has to live in order to help the investigation, which is looking for the murderers. We’ve got to do things in such a way that mama, if she were still with us, would be proud.

- There was a theory that they killed Anna Politkovskaya in order to interfere with a series of exposés she getting ready to publish.

- No one interfered with anyone! All the materials that mama prepared have seen the light of day. All the articles she sent to her editor have already been published, her journalist-colleagues made sure of this. I checked her archives myself, and I know that there isn’t a single word that hasn’t been published.

- Has the list of suspects changed in this half-year?

- The list of suspects and theories haven’t changed. They’re being put through the mill. I’m satisfied with the work of the investigators, general. No one, after all, has taken upon himself to catch the scoundrel by a certain date. The investigation has its stages, but it is progressing. The investigation group members have also not changed, and they are all certain of success. Their enthusiasm and mine have grown. I hope before the end of the year that the crime will be solved.

- Did the western press write in more detail about the murder than did ours?

- Not everything, of course. The West also published an awful lot of far-fetched theories. After Litvinenko’s death the western journalists began to link these two events. Litvinenko’s story was easier to sell. The first question would be about mama, but then the second: “What do you think about Litvinenko?” This drives me crazy! I don’t think anything about Litvinenko! It’s a completely different topic! It’s in no way connected.

- Who’s looking after the apartment on Forest Street, and Van Gogh, Anna Politkovskaya’s dog?

- Van Gogh is at my friend’s place out of town, and Vera is going to pick him up later, when little Anechka is a bit bigger. The apartment is empty for now.

- How is grandma feeling, Anna’s mother? After all, she had just gone through a serious operation at the time of the murder.

- She’s fine now and caring for her great-granddaughter. She’s a strong woman and has recovered fully.

- Do the authorities take care of you?

- We received support from the Moscow city government, from Lyudmila Shvetsova’s department — she’s responsible for social problems. She was a very sincere, kind guardian. They offered grandma any and all doctors, a sick-nurse, medicines, and to bring her pension day to day.

- Did Anna Politkovskaya have any friends during this half-year who turned their backs on her family?

- There haven’t been any. On the contrary, everyone is still trying to help, even though Vera and I really don’t need any special assistance. We’ve always had a large and loving family: aunts, uncles, and two grandmothers. We talk with our father. We get together every weekend and have many regular things to do – books, films, and renovations. We discuss and do everything together. Right now we’re putting together a book dedicated to mama’s memory.

- When is it coming out?

- End of April. The book is called ‘Why’. Without any punctuation marks. No dots, no questions, no expressions of emotion. On the cover, instead of a title, is just mama’s photograph. There will be poems in the book, dedicated to her, written by a 16-year-old Moscow girl after the tragedy. A large part of the book will be mama’s articles, distributed in sections by theme: ‘Chechnya’, ‘Army’, ‘Life’. ‘Chechnya’ is the first section of the book, but I’m personally against mama’s work being associated only with Chechnya. She worked in all areas of journalism. There will also be articles by other authors, people close to her, and the reactions of citizens and politicians. The reactions of officials will be in alphabetical order.

I like best the chapter that enumerates Anna Politkovskaya’s publications, what actions they summoned from the authorities, and what the public response was. Later there will be a list of her awards. The last section is especially for those who like to read from the back of a book — it’s a list of real results that her articles entailed: these persons were saved, those received specific assistance, and this or that criminal case was opened.

- They say that you have a hunting rifle at home and you love to shoot. You never wanted to personally avenge the murder?

- Yes, I love to shoot, but mama hated weapons as a matter of principle. At first I wanted to, of course, to take matters into my own hands, but now I understand that it’s possible to get legal punishment in our country. Mama was against the death penalty, while I’m… I’m on her side. Mama witnessed so many people who were so deserving of the death penalty, but she still was against it. If I were a judge, I’d give them life in prison.

- Ilya, was there anything that you disagreed with your mother about while she was alive, and now you understand that she was right?

- Several years ago mama made me complete the violin course in music school, even though I couldn’t stand it. It was very important for her that her children had a musical base, she felt that in time it would show. Vera made her choice – she’s a violinist and has graduated from the Moscow conservatory. I agree with mama now. Music lays the foundation of a desire for harmony. Now it helps me conduct negotiations in business, to achieve compromises, even though I’m a very harsh person in general.

- Do you have any new habits after this half-year?

- I’ve started smoking more.

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