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Munich. November 26th. Germans read A Russian Diary
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, 29 2007

Anna Politkovskaya’s book wins a prestigious literary award

On the evening of Monday, November 26th, in the great hall of Munich University, Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was posthumously awarded the prize for her book “A Russian Diary,” which was published in German. IlyaPolitkovsky accepted the certificate.

The hall, with seating for more than a thousand, was full, and if not for the German habit of orderliness (in the opinion of the Germans, only one person can occupy one place), people would have been sitting “on each other's shoulders”: according to the ceremony’s organizers, “unfortunately, only a small number of those desiring” were able to get into the ceremony.

The Geschwister-Scholl-Preis the Scholl Siblings Prize is a joint award by the Munich Culture Committee and the Bavarian branch of the German Association of Publishers and Booksellers. Thishonored “book” award is named after Hans and Sophie Scholl student activists in the White Rose resistance group. InFebruary 1943they were arrested at Munich University for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets and after three days of torture they were demonstratively executed.
37 years after the death of Sophie and Hans, in 1980, the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis was created. Thisyear is the 28th year that it has been awarded, and the first time that it was by a unanimous vote of the jury.

“Anna Politkovskaya’s moral criteria did not allow her to abandon her work, even when it presented a danger to herself,” reads the jury decision. “She demonstrated unbending courage in the situation that was becoming increasingly dangerous for her Sheis an example of civil courage and professional integrity Aunique example against the backdrop of what is acceptable in that journalistic community and with what is happening in that country”

As Ilya Politkovsky accepted the award, on stage appeared the stage Munich Oberburgermeister (Lord High Mayor) Christian Ude, who a few minutes before had given a bright, expressive speech. He‘smeared’ Gerhard Schroeder for calling Putin “a pure democrat.” Also appearing on stage was Dieter Eggert from the Bavarian branch of the German Association of Publishers and Booksellers.

Ilya thanked the organizers for the award, and said that Politkovskaya’s family had decided to give some of the money to the Mother’s Right Foundation to assist “parents of children who have disappeared and died in places of armed conflict.”

“This book is my favorite book of my mother’s,” said Ilya a little earlier at a press conference at the Munich Literary House. “It is very nice that this was the book that won the award. Inote that since my mother’s murder she has been awarded very, very many various prizes, but this is the first award that recognizes her literary work. Thisis very important to me. Ithink that my mother would also be very pleased, because it was towards her literary creations that she was most ironic Sheconsidered herself a journalist, but would be very happy of the literary recognition.”

The book “A Russian Diary” is a chronicle of what has happened in Russia between December 2003, when the SPS and Yabloko parties lost elections in Parliament, and before September 1st, 2005 the one-year anniversary of Beslan. Itconsists mainly of excerpts from ‘Novaya Gazeta’ articles that came out during this time. Itis a small part of what Anna Stepanovna (Politkovskaya) wrote, but material that Russians had grown “accustomed to” was more than enough for sympathetic Europeans.

At the end of the evening Iris Berben, a popular Bavarian actress, read a passage from “A Russian Diary”:

The finale: am Iafraid?

They often say to me: “You are a pessimist. Youdo not believe in the power of the people. Youare Putin's opponent, and do not see anything else.”

Isee everything, and therein lies the problem. Isee both good and bad, and the fact that people want to change their lives for the better and cannot, and somehow to vindicate themselves in their own eyes, self-perpetuate the lie, hiding behind contemplation of the positive and noting the negative, as if it were not so.
This, according to my coordinate system, is the position of a mushroom that hides beneath a large leaf. Themushroom will almost certainly be found, and they will cut it up and eat it will not remain sitting there. Therefore, one cannot be a mushroom, if born a person. Icannot put up with demographic projections especially official forecasts from the State Statistics Committee! Which have been made for 2016. 2016is when Iwill probably no longer be, as well as many of the people from my generation, but our children will be alive, and our grandchildren. Dowe not care how and where they exist? Andwhether they will be even alive?

Many, it turns out, do not care. So, if you continue the same political policies, and economic policies, which are always a continuation of political policies, in the next 15years, Russia’s population will decline by 5.3 million people. Thisso-called ‘optimistic’ demographic projection is that by 2016there will be 134.8 million.

But the pessimistic (projection) has been thought out, and though it is not advertised, with some persistence it can be consulted. Ipersonally care a lot more about the ‘pessimistic’ (projection), as it forces one to think hard about how to change the situation in the country right now, so that nothing goes wrong, to not merely sit under a leaf in a vegetative state waiting for ill winds.

‘Pessimistically’ we will have 128.7 million. Millions of poor will die, deprived of medical care nothing is free anymore. Young people will die in the Army in our army there are so many deaths. Inwartime and peacetime they gun down everyone from “the other side” or send them to rot (and die) in prison.

This is if everything remains as it is now. Ifin principal poverty is not overcome. Ifthe same disgusting level of health and environmental neglect remains. Ifcombating alcoholism and drug addiction do not become national policies. Ifthe war in the North Caucasus is not stopped. Ifthe humiliating social system is not changed, this system that allows a person to just barely survive, but not to live a full life with proper diet, rest, and exercise

Right now there is no signal for change. Theauthorities remain deaf to all the people on the outside pressing the ‘emergency buttons’. Theylive for themselves. Ontheir faces is the permanent imprint of personal greed, and anger that someone interferes with their self-enrichment. Andso that someone does not interfere, their task is to bend the horn of civil society and each day convince people that the civil society and the opposition are nourished by money from the CIA, or by British or Israeli or some kind of Martian intelligence service, plus, of course, Al Qaeda’s worldwide web

Our government today is just a way to make money, and nothing else. Itdoes not care about anything else.

If someone has the strength to enjoy the ‘optimistic’ prognosis, then let him do so. Itis easier. Butthis is a death sentence for his grandchildren.

After Iris Berben finished reading, the hall applauded for a full minute.

* By the way, just the day before before the award ceremony, there was also a press conference and many interviews. Mr. Schroeder declined more than ten interviews mostly about the “purest democrat,” but he stood behind the Gazprom’s work.

The editors would like to thank David Drews, Dr. Wilhelm von Timrot and Dr. Klaus Bekshulte for assistance in preparing the material.

And thanks to the kids from the Kurt Huber High School band for their inspirational performance of their musical instruments, and thanks to university vice president Reinhard Putz and TV reporter Dirk Sager for their heartfelt speeches.

Published in ‘Novaya Gazeta

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