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Rome. AnnaPolitkovskaya Square
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, 04 2007
In ‘Novaya Gazeta’
On Thursday, October 4th, 2007, at 3pm local time, Mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni unveiled Anna Politkovskaya Square in a large and beautiful park in Villa Pamfili. Theceremony was formal, and very warm and personable. Themayor, an influential politician who enjoys the trust and respect of his citizens, spoke long and earnestly. There was no pathos or dutiful, formal phrases. Itwas his personal message to the inhabitants of the Italian capital.
Brodsky once said that the only thing poetry and politics have in common, is that both begin with the letters 'p' and 'o'. Forour politicians, however, even those initials do not match, they generally avoid being human, but when the mayor of Rome spoke, it seemed that this was no politician speaking, but a poet. Hesaid that Anna Politkovskaya was brave and free, that she wrote accurately and reliably, and did not like to add commentary, because she believed that the facts must speak for themselves.
The mayor said that Anya was able to watch and write. Thatis, to see reality for what it is, to see the truth and be able to describe it with the best words, and in the best manner. Shewrote about the weak, the mayor said, about those who suffer, and she did not just write about them, she worked to reduce their pain: Chechnya, ‘Nord-Ost’, she was the first to fly to Beslan, but never reached it: she was poisoned on the way. Shewrote about inhuman torture in the prisons, about the war and the curtain of silence. Andshe broke the rules, the rules that we find it hard to break. Herswas a life of passion, the mayor said, a difficult one, and full of risk. Andafter a pause, he continued: “When they kill a journalist, they do it just to be silence him, but we must not remain silent when they kill a journalist. Sowe will do everything so that the name of Anna Politkovskaya is inextricably linked to our city. Wewill talk about Anna, and remember her.”
The canvas is pulled away, and the square (which in Italian translates to a place or space) is open. Written there, in literal translation: Anna Politkovskaya Square. (1958 2006). Russian journalist. Awitness to freedom, and an activist for human rights.
Journalists rush toward Anna Politkovskaya’s daughter, Vera. There are a many of them, very many.
Later Vera and Ithink about how difficult it is to translate Anna’s inscription there in the park, so we decide to leave a cribbed version. Wedo not try to find synonyms or replace ‘activist’ with ‘fighter’. Whybother? Annareally was an activist. Inthis sense, whatever she did, she did for the good of it. Incidentally, the etymology of the word ‘poetry’ is from the Greek ‘poiesis’, or ‘activity’. AndAnna did not simply testify to what she witnessed, she really was a witness to freedom. Sheknew what it was that she saw, and she felt very strongly about freedom.
It is a very nice park, with large trees, and a lot of people.
Here comes the famous Italian actress Otávia Piccolo. OnSaturday, October 6th, she will act in a play devoted to Anna.
People keep coming and coming, and everyone is quiet and solemn, and yet somehow delicate, and unobtrusive.
P.S.: Mayor Walter Veltroni handed Vera Politkovskaya and ‘Novaya Gazeta’ medals of Rome.

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