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NearAnya
Written by ,   
, 28 2008

On August 30th, our columnist Anna Politkovskaya would have turned 50. Shelived a year less than her favorite poet, Marina Tsvetaeva, who once wrote in a letter to Boris Pasternak: “All of the lightning strikes you, but you must live.”

All the lightning also struck Anya, and though she very much wanted to live, and you can feel this as soon as you read the recollections by her daughter Vera that are published here. Noone could force Anya to betray Tsvetaeva’s Law: the Law of the Outstretched Hand. Living under this law, she was always there, where she was needed: near the hospital cot of a wounded captain, near the parents of a girl who had just been abducted and raped, near the hostages at the theatrical center
   There is no need to enumerate: everyone already knows. There is already a book, titled: ‘Why’, and if you have not already read it, do so. Readit, in order to understand. Almost everything that Anya wrote, and did, falls into Tsvetaeva’s style of behavior, and the credo that infected Anna since her school years, when she wrote such a thesis at Moscow University’s college of journalism    that she simply shocked the legendary Dean Yasen Zasursky. Doyou remember: “I refuse to swim down where moving backs make a current”? (Marina Tsvetaeva’s 1938“Poem to Czechoslovakia” ed.) It was forbidden to do so during the years of Stalin’s repression, and there were so many “invitations to death” for Tsvetaeva that they were impossible to count. These days it is almost as difficult to survive, although today we absolutely would rather not talk about how Russia’s “golden pen” has been “physically removed”. There will be other days for this, there will be trials, and the tragic date of October 7th. Today, however, we are not talking about Anya’s murder, but about her birthday, and on this date only those who were closest to her will talk to us about her, they will talk as if they had gathered around a table to remember their favorite stories, and tales, and funny episodes with her. Theytalk about the living Anya, who simply turned invisible. Butshe is still near


Anna Politkovskaya’s mother, RAISA MAZEPA: “A person holds on as long as there is someone to hold onto”
   I am driving to home of Anya’s parents, and Iprepare myself to meeting an elderly person who probably finds it difficult get about, or talk, but Isee a slim, quick-stepping woman with a surprisingly young bearing. Iam scarcely able to turn my head in the direction of her movements before she shows me yet another photo album, puts the kettle on, picks up something up, and flies off again.

“I think,” she tells me, “Anya would be running off to Georgia right now. Ilisten to everything on ‘Echo (of Moscow)’, when I’m in the kitchen Ihave a receiver with me. Ilisten all the time Idon’t like it, though, that they have already started inviting Prokhanov. It’s impossible to listen to such as these.”
- Raisa Alexandrovna, would Anya have celebrated her 50th very noisily?
With her it was so: she never specifically invited anyone. Shewould say: “Whoever wants to come can come and congratulate me.”
- And they would come?
Of course: school friends and their families, and relatives, a whole bunch would gather Butwhen she was little, we always celebrated her birthday, and here we observed everything, and guests were invited. Theboys in school adored Anya.
- She never had conflicts?
Not with the boys with the teachers, yes. Shewould just say right to their face: “You’re unjust!” Once she remarked to her English teacher: “You’re mispronouncing such and such a word.” But the boys would go to her as an intercessor: “Ann, look, they lowered my grade!” And she would go get to the bottom of it. Suchwas the child. Herein this room there were so many school kids showing up, even from other classrooms! Evennow they still say hello and come over. Manyhave moved, but of those who stayed in our area, when they see me they just rush over: “Oh, hello, Raisa, how are you? Howare you holding up?”
- Raisa, is that your husband in the picture?
Yes, Stepan. Andnear him in the frame you can also see ‘Anyutka’ (little Annie). Every evening Itell them: “Well, good night, guys.” And only then do Igo to bed. Inthe morning Iget up and say: “Well, good morning, guys!” Stepan and Igave the girls everything we could: we took them to music and figure skating lessons. Lena, she is over a year older than Anyutka, and taller, so the skating coaches saw more prospects with Anya, and actively offered to let her engage in it seriously, to go this route.
- She could have been a famous figure skater?
We did not send them there for that, but for their overall development. Theyboth also did well in music school, and the teachers said that they should go that route. Theyread a lot. There used to be the Krupskaya Library nearby, but now it is a bank, restaurant, and some offices. Thefirst time Isaw that Ithought: “Lord, how’s this possible?” Iused to go there with ‘Lenochka’ (little Lena) and Anyutka, and then they started to run over there on their own. Thatwhole great big building used to be the library.

The librarian once talked at school and said: “The two most well-read schoolgirls are the Mazepa sisters.” She came to this conclusion from the card index.
- Your surname is historical, a hetman (Ukrainian chieftain).
My maiden name is Novikova, while Mazepa was my husband’s last name. While my husband was still alive, his nephew from Kharkov brought him his book. Itwas published in the Ukrainian language. Hediscovered that Stepan was from the very same branch as the Hetman, a direct descendant. Well, my husband laughed: “I’ll read this,” he said, “and remember the Ukrainian language.” He attended a school in Ukrainian in Chernigov, but later he finished his education, in Russian, after the war together with me.
- So you met your husband in school?
In night school there were mostly older people. Hewas with the fleet in Kerch, and Iwas from there. Wewere not able to stay in school because of the war, and Kerchans were forced to go to Germany. Bombing began, but the Soviet prisoners of war who built the fortifications for the Germans hid several people, including me, under reeds on horse carts, and we were taken to the nearest Ukrainian village. Twomonths later, our boys broke through at the Dnieper, though the Crimea was still in Germans hands. Theycrossed the Dnieper right where we were. Wecould not go back to school until after the war, and Stepan was only allowed to leave the ship for training in the evenings. Hewas drafted when he was 17, and he served for 8years, because there was no one to replace him. Theykept extending the service obligations, and it was not until he got into the institute that they took him off the ship on a boat to go study in Moscow. Hearrived at the institute, and exams were already underway, but on the very same day he passed three of them. Right there in his navy uniform: because, after all, he had nothing to change into. Sothere he was, a third-year student, and he decides to get married. Idid not want to go to Moscow, but he said: “Either or.” And so we became Muscovites, and here we have stayed.
- In this apartment?
No, we got this apartment in 1962. Webought it while we were working in America. These were the first co-ops the foreign ministry had. Youcould buy it only if you paid with hard currency in America, and so we tried, and economized. Wedid not even rent an apartment, or even a room, but a corner. Backthen everyone was sick of it, but we were survivors of the war, and we were not afraid of any peacetime difficulties. Themain thing is that you are alive. Welive for something, and then some. Hereis Lena’s little girl. Herethey did it so that it shows them all. (Raisa is referring to a digital photo frame that shows different pictures of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.)
- They never let you get bored?
No. Aperson holds on as long as there is someone to hold onto, and our family is such that it holds on. Evenmy nephew, my sister’s son, he says: “Hold on, because everyone around you, even my children, we’re with you.” My daughter Lena lives in London, but she calls every day. Onmy birthday, August 2nd, they all conspired together on the phone and they all showed up here, the whole family, with holiday food and drink: Lena and Yura and all the grandchildren, and my nephew and his children. Hismom, my sister, she lives in Kerch, and every year during school vacation we used to send our children down there, and she always tried to time her vacation for them. Lenaand Yura were a great help to Anyutka after the divorce. Theypassed this on to the grandchildren: Ilya is very careful, and actively cares for his sister Vera and her baby Anechka. Heis a great lad, and for him it is like a holy matter. Atwork he is respected, and in September he will receive a second college degree. Anyaand Grandpa insisted on this, because his first degree was not exactly what he needed for the line of work he is in. Now, during the sessions, as he passes his exam he calls up and says: “A 5! (‘A’),” and we all rejoice together. Butnow Grandpa and Anya are no more, but Ilya still gets 5’s, and Isay: “Ilya, Mom and Grandpa would be so happy!” But he says: “Grandma, if you continue to respond like that, Iwon’t call you up with my grades anymore!” So Ipromised Iwould not be like that.
- Raisa Alexandrovna, before this could you ever have imagined that Anya would become a hero about whom the whole world would be talking?
You know, some friends of my husband, foreign ministry veterans, they told him: “Stepan, here you’re always writing mostly about Anyuta, why is this: do you love her the most?” Not so: he loved both of our girls the same. There was a year difference between them, and we dressed them like twins, and they both got good grades and both went to the same university and the same college, one after the other. Butwe always felt more sorry for Anya. Thatis how Stepan explained it to his friends: “I feel more sorry for her.”
- Because she did not protect herself?
Yes. Somany times we tried to talk her out of going to Chechnya. Wefeared for her. Herreply was: “So who should go? Ifnot me, then who?” We worried about her, but we were proud: Stepan collected every one of her articles. Heclipped them out, and wrote on them the day and year.
- That must have been a lot of clippings!
Yes, but he clipped them all. Icould not get them all into the folders. Ifshe was in Moscow, you could not just come over. Shewas always working. Iwould ask her: “What time did you get to bed?” She would say: “Three am.” Iwould ask if that was really necessary, and she would say: “I must, Imust, Imust.” She had to, and that was all there was to it.
- What do you remember most nowadays, Raisa Alexandrovna? Whattime in her life?
They always said about us: “What a beautiful family! Twolittle princesses, and their dad and mom are young and dance so beautifully.” Stepan and Iwere in every dance competition and party. Wedanced the waltz and could do the tango, and we always got first place or some prize. Itwas the happiest time, and Iremember it quite often. Ourgirls, when they were grown up, were always joking: “We thought that all men were as ideal as Dad.” He did not drink or smoke, and he put his heart and soul into bringing up our children, and then the grandchildren. Hedid not have a single gray hair when we buried him. Justbefore this he had his first dental treatment, but before my surgery he died of a massive heart attack, even though before this he never once had problems with his heart.
- You were together for almost 50years?
54 years. Yura, my son-in-law, said: “He died while going to his beloved.” Ihad been feeling poorly, and so Iwent to a clinic for an ultrasound. Suddenly Isee that Anya is there. Iasked: “How did you get in here?” She answered: “As a matter of fact, I’m a journalist.” She had called home and her dad said that Iwas there, and so there she was, sitting in head doctor’s office. Itturned out that Iurgently needed to go to the hospital, so we went home to pack, and Stepan says to his daughter: “Anya, maybe she doesn’t need to go to the hospital? Isit that bad?” Anya says to him: “Yes, it’s serious and it can’t be postponed.” He came to visit me, and brought me homemade juice. Thedoctor talked to him, and on the day of my surgery he called up and said: “Know what? I’m coming to see you.” Itried to talk him out of it, but he called up again and asked if Ihad not thought of anything Ineeded. Butwhat can you possibly need before surgery? Especially in the hospital, where there already is everything. Hesays: “Well, I’m leaving.” That is how he said it. Thelast thing he ever said.

I waited, and visiting hours were already over and he still had not shown up. Inwalks the doctor, and she says that my relatives phoned and said Ishould not expect my husband. Hewas stuck in traffic and could not be reached. Ithought: “What traffic, if he was going to take the subway?” Icalled home and here Ilya picks up the phone, and Irealize that if Ilya was there then that means that something has happened to Grandpa. Iasked: “Ilya, what happened to your grandfather?” He said: “Grandma, Idon’t know. He’s in the hospital. Momwill tell you.” Even though he was the first one there, together with Yura. Stepan had already taken the subway and went outside and asked a woman where to catch the trolley or bus that goes to the hospital. Shestarted to show him, but right in front of her eyes he started to collapse. Early in the morning they hadn’t even started taking temperatures yet they came in and gave me a shot. Right after that, Lena and Anya came in. WhenI saw Lena, who lives in London, right away Ialready knew: “Girls, has Grandpa died?”
- You were supposed to have surgery on that day?
Yes, and here walks the doctor in and she says: “Get ready for surgery, no time for funerals.” Two weeks later, early in the morning, before they had taken temperatures, just like before, they came in and gave me a shot, and right after that the door opened, but instead of Anya it was Yura with Lena. Andmy first words to them were: “They killed Anya?”
Father would never have survived Anyutka’s death, if he could not survive me
Anna Politkovskaya’s daughter, VERA POLITKOVSKAYA: “She told me: Do you know how much vacation I’ve saved up? Whenyou have the baby, I’ll take it all. We’ll raise the baby together”
Two words that Ispoke literally transformed my mother: “I’m pregnant.” Icalled her as soon as Ihad a special blood test, and was convinced of the accuracy of my condition. Momat this point Ithink was at work, or at least on the job. Sheasked: “Yes? You’re sure? I'll call you back.” So casually, as if nothing important had happened. Inever even suspected that from that moment on Iwould see in front of me a quite different mother. Shecame over with a bag full of food: “Correct nutrition. Youmust eat this! You've quit smoking?”

In general Iwas never that fond of drinks such as Coke or Sprite, but once she saw me with something like that screamed as if it were potassium cyanide: “How can you feed the baby THAT?”

Somehow, in two months, Mom managed to grow at her summer cottage garden onions, fennel, and carrots: pure products without chemicals. Hergranddaughter was only supposed to eat things like that. Previously, Inever could have imagined my mother out in the garden.

And on October 6th, the day before Mom died, there was a false alarm with my baby. Itwas not confirmed, but at that moment Mom gave me curt orders: “Lie down! Don’t move!” And she called up a special ambulance that is not covered by health insurance. Ithink she was more scared than Iwas. Shecalmed down when we were on the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and even joked: “Well, Iat least don’t pass in the oncoming lane.” She drove very carefully, and never ever broke the law.

It was on or around six in the evening, during rush hour, and there was a huge cluster of vehicles. Theambulance chased them all away with the siren.

“Traffic jams are a breeze,” Mom said.

She also told me: “Do you know how much vacation I’ve saved up? I’ve never taken any. Whenyou have the baby, I’ll take it all. We’ll raise the baby together.”
Anna Politkovskaya’s sister ELENA KUDMIMOVA: “Everybody thought she never cried, but she was afraid of the dark”
Anya is seeing me out to the door, and after another second and Iam waving to her and getting into that fateful elevator, never knowing that we are seeing each other for the last time.

She asks: “Len, is it scary to pick up and hold a newborn in your arms?”

She mentions the thing that had been worrying her the most lately. Wewere once again happy, since the night before an experienced physician had dispelled all doubts about Vera’s pregnancy.

At this point in my dream Iwake up in a cold sweat, just like yesterday and the night before, and many times since her death. Mysubconscious has put some kind of a block here, apparently to shield my mind from the unfolding of further events. Butthe dream is still painful, and once again Isee Anya in the kitchen, cutting up soaked prunes and dried apricots, just like they taught her to do the day before at the hospital, to prepare “breakfast for the pregnant” for Vera, who is still asleep.

During our 40minutes in the kitchen, Anya treats me to tea, and, as always, we manage to discuss a list of topics: yesterday’s search for a hospital for Vera (in detail); our first doctor’s lack of professionalism (briefly); the day’s happy ending, when we got advice from Moscow’s leading expert on pregnancy (in detail); last night’s TV news, which Idid not see, but it showed Putin in Chechnya, sporting a t-shirt with a portrait of Kadyrov junior on his chest (briefly); Mom’s health and spirits after her surgery (in detail); and Anya’s own trip to the clinic.

We are talking quickly and quietly: we never have enough time to discuss everything that is happening to us, and Vera is still asleep in the other room. Ourfather’s portrait on the commode listens kindly to our female gossip. Weburied him two weeks ago, on a serene, sunny day like this morning, October 7th, 2006. Somewhere deep inside, we believe that his soul will live with us for the whole forty days (an Orthodox belief that the departed remain near their loved ones for 40days before ascending into heaven ed).

Actually, Ihave only come over for a moment to pick up at Mama’s things at Anya’s and take them to the hospital. Today is Anya’s turn to visit Mother, but we need to get the door to Vera’s apartment fixed, so we decide that Iwill go again, and Anya will go tomorrow. After Father’s death we take turns every day sitting with Mom in her hospital room, doing amateur psychotherapy.

And over Anya’s head, hanging like the sword of Damocles, is the unfinished first chapter of her new book, which she had vowed to finish by the end of September at her summer cottage, where no one would interfere with her work, but life writes its own scenario: Father’s death, the funeral, Mother’s operation, complications with Vera’s pregnancy, and, in the general, no time. Andthere was still her work at the office.

Re-reading her articles, it is difficult to imagine that Anya could be afraid of anything. Fromher material you get this image of some sort of fearless Russian woman as described textbook-perfect by Nekrasov: “She can stop a galloping horse, and run inside a burning cottage.” But in fact, since childhood Anya was afraid of the dark, perhaps because since she was 10she had been rapidly losing her eyesight. Later, in Chechnya, she had to make due without glasses, so that the patrols would not recognize her. Shehad to walk kilometers at night, almost by touch, going from place to place. WhenI saw her after ‘Nord-Ost’, the first thing she said to me: “It was very scary.”

Everyone thought that she never cried. Butonce again, after raising the roof in a shouting match with Muratov over another article, she was talking with me over the phone, and she was sobbing, unable to get over the offense.

Anya often went to Chechnya without telling our parents, letting them have an extra day without worry. Theywould find out the next day, when they called the grandkids, but that would be later, and then they would listen ever more closely than usual to the news on the radio. Vera’s pregnancy sobered Anya up. Shewants grandchildren. Shewas so happy, and good-naturedly envious, when she saw my week-old granddaughter this summer.

“Len, is it scary to pick up and hold a newborn in your arms?” It is already midday, so Irush to Mother, waving to Anya from the elevator. Shehas only 4hours left
Relatives, colleagues, and readers recall Anna Politkovskaya
It is a blank sheet of paper with five holes in it. Itis a salvo of new texts, which Anna Politkovskaya could have, and was ready, to write: words that are too vivid, and too sharp, to miss our time. Thepage is white, because it has turned to a marble. Anna’s monument was dedicated on August 30th, 2007, the day she would have turned 50. Thetriangles are not black, as is traditional, but from white marble on a white marble page. Thefive holes are an argument for silence, the pledge of a blank page, but “the past is yet to be” because still missing are the authors and performers of the script, the assassination of an independent and honest reporter. Instead of silence, they receive a shout: the entire world now breathlessly reads her texts.
We will continue to publish stories about Anna Politkovskaya on this anniversary. Recall what her loved ones her mother, sister, and daughter said in the previous issue. Today it is the turn of her husband, friends and colleagues, and our readers.
Alexander Politkovsky: Concerning a flat tire, and a wife’s impenetrable sense of duty
It is a gloomy morning on the first day of the next year. Annahas to write something. Seis in a hurry, and passes other cars on her return to the hung over, heroic city. Ido not have to be there, so Iam in no hurry.
The snow is not snow, but like some sort of white cereal sprinkled on the road. Thecar is not running well. Itshudders and clings to islands of asphalt. Together with my son we barely get the flat tire off, under the nervous whining of our Doberman. Weare getting closer to Zvenigorod. Onthe road we observe an accumulation of vehicles and the eternal fuss of a worthless Russian rescue: a Japanese car, having lost all its beauty, is lying in a ditch. Theywave invitingly to us for help. Iusually do not stop when Ihave the kids in the car, but this time Anna is next to me, so there is no point in even repeating her words: “We should definitely help, we have to”

After a few minutes we are already dragging the overseas beauty out of the roadside ditch. Wedrag it out. Smiles and pats on the back, just like in the Kremlin after the end of a meeting. ThenAnna notices that our car is somehow leaning. Yes, we lost another tire, and there is no one around. Wait, over there! Thecar we rescued! Notfar from us, they are calmly putting things to right. Itis getting colder. Annasays that in Russia it is better to be lying on the roadside than to stand in a rut. Shepersuades the people we rescued to take our son with the wheel over to the tire repair shop. Theyboth agree, and we are grateful. Annais walking the Doberman along the roadside. “Save us, the saviors!” Iyell, trying to stop a long-awaited SUV, which has a similar wheel. Mywife should lie in the rut, because we would then have a glimmer of hope.

Anna reminds me about how a few months ago Iwas in this same car near the Ruza Reservoir, and Idrove up on the grass and across an upside-down harrow, and wrecked two tires. Someone just tossed out a harrow as if they were tossing a banana peel out of a Mercedes 600. Itwas on the eve of Trinity, and on this day for some reason the country gets soundly drunk, and on that day businesses that usually work around the clock do not work at all.

And so it was at this time: our son came back with nothing. After getting to Moscow, they did not find a single tire repair shop. Mycell phone makes a gurgling sound, and wishes to bid us farewell. Anyamanages to get through to her sister, and Lena is sending a car with a driver. Ourson calls a classmate about our problem in nearby Zvenigorod. Hearrives in some sort of a horse cart, takes the wheel rim and squeezes onto it a tire from a Volga car. Whata Kulibin (Russian Thomas Edison)! Onthe brink of a foul, but we are off! Thechildren and the dog go in the sister’s car, while Anna and Idrive cautiously behind them. Everything bad is forgotten. Itis warm and we talk of other things. Then, quite unexpectedly, in the darkness Ihear her words: “Still, you did well to stop.”
Me?
Elena Morozova, childhood friend: Vamps on the high seas
Before leaving on vacation, Iwas wandering around a bookstore, looking for something “light” for the road. Suddenly Ifelt someone’s eyes on me. Onthe cover of a book was Anya, looking at me. Thequestion ‘Why?’ to which there are many answers, though not a single correct one, once again reopens a wound in my soul. Onthe way home Igo over in my memory some happy episodes from our many years of friendship, and Iremember how we traveled together.

15years ago, Anya won a voyage for two to the capitals of northern Europe. Fortunately for me, her husband Sasha could not go, so Anya invited me along. Since childhood and the days of our youth, it was our first and last journey together without children and husbands, just us girls. Weleft a country, which at the time, as the jokes go, stores labeled ‘Meat’ had no meat, and stores labeled ‘Fish’ had no fish. Itis clear that in addition to taking away impressions, we had to get clothes, gifts, and souvenirs for our loved ones, so the list of necessary things we made was impressive, while there was certainly not enough money.
After a city tour, our guide allotted us 2hours for shopping. Toour misfortune, we entered a multilevel store through the dinnerware department. Saltshakers in the shapes of birds in baskets, sparkling chrome salad and sugar bowls, dishes with divisions for snails, which could be used for devilled eggs, paralyzed our imagination and caused serious damage to our purse. Something was going on in the women’s clothing section, something that was still unknown in our country: a wonderful event called ‘a sale’. Wegot back to our group just a few minutes before the appointed time, our arms busy with packages of dishes, which in later years we enjoyed with pleasure, and two black, fashionably low-cut blouses that caught our eye at the exact same time, in the corresponding sizes. Weimmediately realized that these would be the pearls of our wardrobes while still here in Europe, as well as on our return to Moscow, where we would go to numerous parties and alternate wearing our tops by prior agreement. Thatevening, the ship held a masquerade dinner. Inorder to participate, you had to either pay what seemed at the time an unthinkable amount of money, or come in costume. Thefirst option was not even considered, but where could we find fancy masquerade costumes on the high seas?

We were helped by our ability to turn out anything, which is perhaps inherent at the genetic level in every woman from the former Soviet nation. Wedecided that evening to become Siamese twin female vamps. Wewere bailed out by our new ‘naked’ tops, in which we felt dressed like queens, and by some long, black skirts (our main wardrobe was white on top and black on the bottom). Black socks were turned into luxurious opera gloves, and candy foil rolled into balls formed the basis of beads and sequins on our skirts, while on our cheeks we painted identical black beauty spots. Thuswe spent the entire evening, cheek-to-cheek, side-by-side, making the same gestures with our free sock-gloved hands, and giving everyone a dazzling smile. Wealways recalled that evening with pleasure, as well as other funny scenes from our trip, using a well-known line from an old movie: “Let Dunya into Europe.”

Ithink that we would also have remembered these on August 30th, on Anya’s birthday. Wealways celebrated that day with friends who were returning from summer vacation, well rested and ready to share their pleasant experiences. OnAnya’s birthday we will one again gather to talk about her, and try to answer the question on the cover of that book: “Why?”
Marina Goldovskaya, documentary filmmaker: “Through her, Iwanted to tell about us”
I think about Anna all the time, and, when you ask about her, it is hard for me to tell about any individual event. Hername for me is associated with the best days of my life. Herhusband, Sasha, was my favorite student at the journalism college at Moscow University, and he and Iwere close. Whenhe introduced me to his future wife, Anna, Iimmediately felt for her, and right away Igot a very warm feeling. Theywere such a bright and nice couple that when Iwas asked to make a picture about 1990, about the year of changes, the first family Ithought of was the Politkovsky family. Sasha was on the crest of fame, traveling to all the hot spots, while Anya was a very nice woman with two children. Ithought that through them Icould tell about all of us.

They agreed, Ithink, because they trusted me. I‘settled’ in their house, and equipped the whole apartment with lights and microphones. Ifilmed them for nearly two months, and it coincided with some very exciting and nervous moments for our country. Atthat same time there was the demonstration of February 25th, 1990. Itwas preparing to be a revolt against the Communist Party, which had abolished paragraph 6of the Constitution. There were lots of problems with organization, and state television warned everyone that there could be bloodshed, that the ‘Memory’ society was preparing to go there, and so there was no need to take part in it. There were a lot of threats, even on Sasha’s answering machine. Wewere all terribly worried. Itwas a very tense situation, which kept us all very nervous. Mymother, for example, cried and begged me not to go there.

Ifound a good place to film the demonstrations, from the sixth floor of a house on the corner of Garden Ring and Zubovsky Boulevard. There were more police than Ihad ever seen before in my life. Ithink that half a million people came to the demonstration. Theyheld hands and sang Okudzhava’s song: “Let’s join hands, friends”. Iburst into tears on that balcony. Itwas a spiritual ascent that Iwas feeling for the first time my life, and we all understood that we were standing on the threshold of incredible change. Itwas euphoria, and an understanding that you were experiencing a moment in history that will never happen again. Thefilm from the demonstration was key to the picture, and it was all happening at the same time as the first migrants, the first refugees were coming from Baku. Sasha interviewed them. Andthen there was Anya, waiting for him at home with their two children, thinking about the present and the future.

The picture did well abroad, and participated in film festivals. Itturned out, Ithink, because there were very personal moments in it. Anyawas very open with me, and that is what really connected me with her. Sasha was already a member of the Supreme Council, while Anya and I, like two women, we quickly understood each other. WhenI got an opportunity to show the picture in Russia, Ishowed it to them first. Andwe decided not to show it.

Standing on that balcony in February 1990, Ithought Ishould buy a camera and record everything that we were experiencing, and ever since them Ihave taken it with me and have taken a lot of pictures of my friends. Every time Iwas in Moscow, Iphotographed Anya, sometimes several times a year. Almost all of her life passed in front of me with her little puppy, Martin, when he got his ears cropped. WithMartin, who grew old and died. Witha new dog named Van Gogh. Andwith the kids who were young and studying music, and who later grew up. Andfamily life, which later fell apart. Thelast time Iphotographed Anya was in 2005.

When Isaw her for the first time after a ten year hiatus, in 2000, Itold her: “Anna, you’ve changed so much, you’ve become a different person! Iwould have never thought that you could be so modern.” Of course, back in the 90’s she was writing for “Air Transport” (Aeroflot in-flight magazine) and somewhere else, and together we went to see the ‘Journalist’, Valentin Kuznetsov, but it was hard for her to write with small children, but suddenly there was an incredible leap, a breakthrough. Backthen she relied: “If we never changed, we wouldn’t be interesting to anyone, and most importantly to ourselves.”

For me, Anya was a very close friend, whom Ithink Iunderstood very well. Iwas struck by her dedication. Shewould change clothes and go off into the mountains alone. Shewas a very passionate person, but at the same time she very vulnerable and very proud. Ialso tried to stop her, as Iam sure many tried, but she said that she would ashamed otherwise, it would dishonor those who were waiting for her help. Shewas a person with a very high moral foundation. Suchpeople are very few. Anyawas able to “summon grace for the fallen.” Many of my friends Anya and Olya Kuchkina and myself we all are the same as we were, time does not change us. Iam doing my tiny little part, but who watches my movies? Whoneeds them? Butstill Ihave this feeling that Ihave no right to stop.

Somehow she got to the U.S., and came to Los Angeles. Iwas only able to see her for one day. Ihad to fly to Germany, where Iwas on a film awards jury and could not refuse. Imet her at her hotel, and she was in very high spirits: she had just been to New York, where she was given an award for courage in journalism. “Finally, Ifeel like someone needs me,” she said. “What Icould tell the children. Toobad they weren’t there to see it!”

“I have absolutely nothing against fate,” she then said. “I’ve seen and experienced more than anyone else has ever seen, or will ever see, and it helped me become better and more interesting. Notfor the world, but for myself.” That evening Iflew away, leaving her with my husband, George. Andwhen Igot to Germany, Iturned on CNN and Iimmediately saw footage of ‘Nord-Ost’. Icalled home, but George said: “Anya left for Moscow, to negotiate.”

But how can one tell all of this?
Elena Masyuk, journalist: “She knew how to write people stories”
I did not know Anna personally. Inever went to the second Chechen war, and she was not at the first, so we never crossed paths. Ihad only one telephone conversation with Anya, sometime in 2000. Icalled her, because Ihad read an article of hers in ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Itwas a wonderful article, written about wounded civilians in Chechnya, and written as only Anya was able, a human-interest story. Among the residents down there was a little girl with severe injuries: she was in a hospital in Nazran, and she needed expensive medical treatment. Itwas written so gripping that Iwanted to help. Ithink that more than once people have called up Anna with a desire to help.

Back then she was surprised by my call. Shethought that after the situation in 1997, when the Chechens took my film crew hostage, no Chechen story, even about a little girl’s tragedy, would ever cause me any emotion.

Iasked Anna to transfer to the hospital some medicine that Ihad purchased. Iknew all the tricks associated with humanitarian aid to the Caucasus, and in our country in general, and it was very important that these drugs get to this girl. Theywere for exactly that phase of treatment that she needed. Anyagave me the phone number of the hospital, and later Icalled them up: some of it got to the girl, while the rest was spread out among the other patients, so Iwas not able to help her all the way. Ido not know what the girl’s fate was. Ihope she survived and recovered.
Julia Kalinina, journalist: “Anya was a bird in beautiful clothing”
I think it was in 2000or 2001. TheHelsinki Group had organized a trip to Denmark to study the origins of Danish democracy.

At the hotel in Copenhagen, Anya and Iwere in the same room. Onthe first night we only talked about Chechnya. Itold her about the horrors Ihad seen during the first war, while Anya told about the horrors she had seen in the second. Ourstories were scary, and our speech feverish. Ithink we may have given people the impression that we are both a little sick. Notcompletely crazy, but of course not something you could call normal.

One evening, our leader took us to some small island to get acquainted with Danish folk culture. Right on the street we found ourselves in a natural, outdoor auditorium. Along the walls were chairs, music was playing, and in the center of the room were Danes dancing. Thirty people, Isuppose. Menand women were dressed up and dancing in pairs around and around, stamping and jumping, as they do in their folk dances. TheDanes moved over to us, and the men snatched the ladies, while the women grabbed the hands of the gentlemen, and so it was impossible to give way.

Half an hour later, our whole group was in a lather and went to hide around the corner from the Danes.

Only Anya continued to dance. Shestamped and spun better than the most skilful of the Danes, as if she had rehearsed her whole life these intricate local dances. Herface was flushed, and her eyes were burning. Sheflew like a bird and it was evident that all of it was giving her real pleasure. Atthe time we even thought that this should have been her vocation: not digging around in the dirt, but up on stage, dancing in beautiful costumes.

We headed back to Moscow through Copenhagen, and on the last night we once again proved to be in the same room at the same hotel. Youknow, what we talked about that night? Annatold me about a remarkable little shop in Moscow, where they sell wonderful silk scarves, and quite inexpensive at that. AndI remember we also debated the merits of certain creams, cosmetics, and other wonderful feminine stuff. Andwe never thought about Chechnya. Never, and that is amazing.

In a country where they value human life above all else, our burning need to constantly fight against barbarism and the atrophy of the heart from watching these transcendent horrors finally left our inflamed souls. Weturned into normal, human females. But, unfortunately, not for long.
Jonathan Sanders, former CBS correspondent in Russia who covered six conflicts in the Caucasus, head of the ‘Project on the Russian future’:
It is very, very difficult for me to Ispeak about her, and Italk about Anna very little. Ithink she is a rarity, like Artyom Borovik, a star such as we see once in a lifetime.

Iknew her husband at a time when he worked in the program ‘Vzglyad’, and the first time Isaw Anna Stepanovna, Itold her bluntly: “How is it possible that we are in this small world of progressive journalists, and we’ve never before met in Moscow?” And she replied: “I was not me back then.”

Iunderstood that it was very difficult psychologically for her to live like she did. Sheknew she needed to do to be a good journalist, but after she saw what she saw, Ithink she felt the need to speak the truth. Noteven the truth, with regard to her, she needed to speak a word we rarely use, the big-t ‘Truth’. Thisis what killed her.

Idid not quite understand her character, but Ithink that this need changed her. Shewas a very complicated woman, while before this she used to be very calm.

In American history, there was a man named John Brown. Hewas very active against slavery. Atthe end of his life he made a lot of illogical steps, but he did what he thought was right for the Truth and for the liberation of blacks.

Ithink she was the same sort of rare person.
Anya and our readers: “It was a godsend to be able to speak with such a person”
When Iwas 17, the hostage taking at Dubrovka took place. Iwas confused, and strange thoughts crept into my head. Idid not know where to go with them, so Idecided to write a letter to ‘Novaya’. Ityped it.

About a year passed, and Iwas at a rally against the war in Chechnya. Isaw Anna Stepanovna and got very nervous, but still Idecided to go up to her. Imagine my surprise when she remembered me, and remembered details from my letter: a phenomenal memory. Outwardly, she seemed very fragile to me. Wechatted a bit, and then parted.

Ido not want to say any extra words, but Anna Stepanovna back then was an example for me, and almost a beacon in a world where no one understood me.
Sincerely,
Anna Uyutova
It was the summer of 2000. Mywife and Iwere going into the Chinatown subway station, and we saw Anna. Shewas walking toward the exit. Wehad never seen her like that before, only on TV, and we learned right away that she was so beautiful. Wegreeted her, and thanked her for her reporting from Chechnya. Wetalked for about five minutes. Maybe this episode will not seem very important, but we ordinary Chechens thank her for what she did for the Chechen people.
Ramzan Tevzan
I am a Frenchman. Sorry, Iam not very good at Russian, but Ihave been studying. Ilove Russia, because my son is Russian. Hewas an orphan. Iam now reading a book about Politkovskaya (Douloureuse Russie, journal d'une femme en colre) and that is why Iknow her.

We, of course, have never met, but Iknow that she was very fond of Russia. Annawas very great.

Ihope that Russia will someday be a democratic country.
Roland
She not only wrote about us, about me and my son, but about many who are scorched and burned in our home country of Russia by injustice, cruelty, and lack of humanity. Ibelieve that it was a godsend that Iwas able to speak with a person of such magnitude.

Today, going through documents for the next trial, Isaw a note in the margin of an old, forgotten document: “Call Anna Politkovskaya.”

Once we talked about injustice, about life and everyday problems, and about children. Andto her question, Ireplied that Iwanted to teach my son to live without me, that is, when Iam no longer around. Idid not even have time to get home when Anna Stepanovna calls me up and says that she has some people who are willing to help me.

And these people are helping me to this day.
Marina Anatolyevna Kondratyeva and Denis Vasiliev
In ‘Novaya Gazeta”

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Comments (2)
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Written by , on 31-08-200818:49
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Written by website, on 29-09-200800:10
http://www.newstube.ru/#/video/1B553EEA-2845-433°C-9077-8679148272A9

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