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THREE YEARS AGO THEY MURDERED ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA
Written by   
, 12 2006
SHE WAS THE FIRST TO RISE UP
ImageDuring 7years of war Anya could have been killed at any moment

Anna Politkovskaya came to the Novaya Gazeta during the summer of 1999. Sheappeared just in time for the beginning of the second Chechen campaign (may it be damned).

Her first step during the war was the rescue of the most defenseless of people elderly and mentally ill patients from a Grozny asylum. Inlate fall of 1999, federal troops surrounded Grozny and bombarded it with heavy artillery and aircraft-dropped bombs. TheRussian military leadership claimed that all civilians had left Grozny, and only militants remained. The102 unlucky inmates of the asylum did not count: not for our military, nor the militants. Death was prepared from them: if not from the bombs, then from hunger and cold.
Anya sought the allocation of beds in the Russian nursing homes and hospitals for the inhabitants of Grozny asylum through the then-Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Valentina Matvienko. Andthen, with an indescribable, simply mad insistence, she obtained the relocation of these elderly and mentally ill patients from Grozny. Inlate December, in the midst of the fighting in Grozny, these unfortunates were evacuated from Chechnya. Manyof them are still in good health.

Some of them recently responded, after learning of Anya's murder. 67-year-old Moses Nazarov is a former inmate of the Grozny asylum, one of those who were rescued by Anya. Forseveral years now he has been living in Israel. Hisgrief is immeasurable.

A soldier who must constantly be the first to rise up in an attack cannot survive seven years of war. Allthese years Anya was just such a soldier.

The first time they tried to deal with her was in February 2001. Residents of the Chechen village of Khatuni asked Anna to save loved ones who had been captured by commandos from the 45th Regiment. Annawas allowed into the unit’s base, where she saw pits for the hostages. Afterwards, she herself became a hostage. FromFebruary 21st to the 23rd, GRU and FSB officers taunted and interrogated her, until one night they brought her out to be shot.

Anna saved by the fact that, through the Chechens, we have managed to find out her location. Wecontacted the office of Yastrzhembsky, who back then was the assistant to the President of Russia. Wealso notified the head of the Chechen government, Stanislav Ilyasov, who went in and brought out Anya.

Through our sources, we learned that the Russian security services in Chechnya had been carrying out a hunt for Anya.

Anya exposed police officers from the Khanty-Mansi consolidated police department. Police Captain Lapin and his colleagues kidnapped and killed people during a trip to Chechnya, while working at the Oktyabrsky district police station in Grozny. Lapin, under the nickname of ‘Cadet’, threatened to murder Anna, but she still was able to bring this crooked cop to justice.

Anna first appeared in the Chechen mountain village of Dai, where a GRU unit under the command of Captain Ulman had shot a group of local teachers and burned their bodies. Anna’s articles exposed these scum and helped bring Ulman’s gang to justice.

Afterwards, there were several attempts by officers from the Russian security service to settle the score with Anna. Sympathetic Russian soldiers and Chechen police officers saved her several times. FSBGeneral Shabalkin, on seeing Anna during her latest visit to Khankala, exclaimed: “What? Theystill haven’t killed you yet!” (Anya herself told me about this.)

In October 2002, when terrorists seized the theatrical center on Dubrovka, Anya persuaded the leader of the bandits to allow her to deliver water and fruit juices to the hostages. Shehad to overcome her fear and carry this entire load several times by herself, and it may have contributed to the survival of many hostages.

On September 1st, 2004, when there was the terrorist seizure of School No. 1in Beslan, Anya was flying to the scene of the tragedy. Since the airport in Beslan was closed, Anna flew to Rostov on Karat Airlines. During the flight, she refused the food that was offered, and even tea. Justbefore landing, however, she asked the stewardess for a glass of water.

After a few sips, Anna felt ill. While already losing consciousness, she telephoned the editor-in-chief of ‘Novaya Gazeta’, Dmitry Muratov. After Anna lost consciousness, he got details from the stewardess. Thanks to the help of some of our friends in the security services, and the physicians at the Rostov hospital, Anna managed to pull through. Testresults of the poisoning, however, disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

As we later found out, on the aircraft with Anna were two FSB officers, most likely tasked with accomplishing this mission.

Also in 2004, Anna arranged a meeting with (Chechen President) Ramzan Kadyrov at his lair in the village of Tsentoroi. Kadyrov simply mocked Anna, and threatened her. Hadwe not known where she was, Anna may never have returned. After her return from Kadyrov’s lair, she told her colleagues, including me, of her fear, and the feeling she had that this man and his warriors could do with her whatever they wanted and even kill her.

Soon Ireceived information from our sources that people related to Ramzan Kadyrov were preparing to massacre journalists from ‘Novaya Gazeta’, and, most of all, Politkovskaya. Oneof our correspondents working in Chechnya had to be quickly rescued from imminent death, and sent to the West with the assistance of the Glasnost Defense fund, headed by Alexei Simonov. Wewere unable, however, to convince Anya to quit her professional journalistic work in exposing the people involved in extra judicial killings.

Those who feared her revelations, who knew that she was incorruptible and could only be stopped by a bullet, murdered Anna Politkovskaya.

Vyacheslav Izmailov
War correspondent for ‘Novaya Gazeta’
October 12th, 2006

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Comments (3)
1.
Written by website, on 31-01-201114:48
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2. pYMBHqimLOWyL
Written by Gurinder website, on 29-06-201204:12
during a meeting of his genrenmovt that he had had enough, and that Politkovskaya was a condemned woman. Iwas told about it by members of the genrenmovt.What for? Fornot writing the way Kadyrov wanted? Anybody who is not one of us is an enemy. Surkov said so, and Surkov is Ramzan Kadyrov's main supporter in Putin's entourage."Ramzan told me, 'She is so stupid she doesn't know the value of money. Ioffered her money but she didn't take it,'" an old acquaintance, a senior officer in militia special forces, told me that same day. Imet him secretly. Heis one of us, unlike me, and would face difficulties if we were caught conferring. Whenit was time for me to leave it was already evening, and he urged me to stay in this secure location. Hewas afraid Iwould be killed."You mustn't go out," he told me. Ramzan is very angry with you.I decided to leave nevertheless. Someone else was waiting for me in Grozny and we needed to talk through the night, also in secret. Heoffered to have me taken there in a militia car, but that struck me as even more risky. Iwould be a target for the fighters."Do they at least have guns in the house you are going to?" he continued anxiously. Throughout the war Ihave been caught in the middle. Whensome are threatening to kill you, you are protected by their enemies, but tomorrow the threat will come from somebody else.Why am Igoing on at such length about this? Onlyin order to explain that people in Chechnya are afraid for me, and Ifind that very touching. Theyfear for me more than Ifear for myself, and that is how Isurvive.Why has Ramzan vowed to kill me? Ionce interviewed him and printed the interview just as he gave it, complete with all his characteristic moronic stupidity, ignorance, and satanic inclinations. Ramzan was sure Iwould completely rewrite the interview, and present him as intelligent and honourable. Thatis, after all, how the majority of journalists behave now, those who are on our side.Is that enough to make someone vow to kill you? Theanswer is as simple as the morality encouraged personally by Putin. We are merciless to enemies of the Reich. Who is not with us is against us. Those who are against us must be destroyed."Why have you got such a bee in your bonnet about this severed head?" VasiliyPanchenkov asks me back in Moscow. Heis director of the press office for the Interior Ministry troops, but a decent man. Have you nothing better to worry about? Iam asking him to comment on the events in Kurchaloy for our newspaper. Just forget it. Pretend it never happened. I'm asking you for your own good!But how can Iforget it, when it did happen?I loathe the Kremlin's line, elaborated by Surkov, dividing people into those who are on our side, not on our side, or even on the other side. Ifa journalist is on our side, he or she will get awards, respect, perhaps be invited to become a deputy in the Duma.If a journalist is not on our side, however, he or she will be deemed a supporter of the European democracies, of European values, and automatically become a pariah. Thatis the fate of all who oppose our sovereign democracy, our traditional Russian democracy. (What on earth that is supposed to be, nobody knows; but they swear allegiance to it nevertheless: We are for sovereign democracy!)I am not really a political animal. Ihave never joined any party and would consider it a mistake for a journalist, in Russia at least, to do so. Ihave never felt the urge to stand for the Duma, although there were years when Iwas invited to.So what is the crime that has earned me this label of not being one of us? Ihave merely reported what Ihave witnessed, no more than that. Ihave written and, less frequently, Ihave spoken. Iam even reluctant to comment, because it reminds me too much of the imposed opinions of my Soviet childhood and youth. Itseems to me our readers are capable of interpreting what they read for themselves. Thatis why my principal genre is reportage, sometimes, admittedly, with my own interjections. Iam not an investigating magistrate, but somebody who describes the life around us for those who cannot see it for themselves, because what is shown on television and written about in the overwhelming majority of newspapers is emasculated and doused with ideology. People know very little about life in other parts of their own country, and sometimes even in their own region.The Kremlin responds by trying to block my access to information, its ideologists supposing that this is the best way to make my writing ineffectual. Itis impossible, however, to stop someone fanatically dedicated to this profession of reporting the world around us. Mylife can be difficult, more often humiliating. Iam not, after all, so young at 47to keep encountering rejection and having my own pariah status rubbed in my face, but Ican live with it.I will not go into the other joys of the path Ihave chosen, the poisoning, the arrests, the threats in letters and over the internet, the telephoned death threats, the weekly summonses to the procurator-general's office to sign statements about practically every article Iwrite (the first question being How and where did you obtain this information?). Ofcourse Idon't like the constant derisive articles about me which appear in other newspapers and on websites that have long presented me as the madwoman of Moscow. Ifind it disgusting to live this way; Iwould like a bit more understanding.The main thing, however, is to get on with my job, to describe the life Isee, to receive visitors every day in our editorial office who have nowhere else to bring their troubles, because the Kremlin finds their stories off-message, so that the only place they can be aired is in our newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. Translated by Arch Tait. Thispiece will be included in Another Sky, an English PEN anthology to be published by Profile Books in spring 2007. Formore information, visit www.englishpen.org. AnnaPolitkovskaya's books include A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya (2001) and Putin's Russia (2004). Readher session at the 2005Hay festival at www.hayfestival.com/archive/results.aspx?eventid=63 Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
3. , -
Written by website, on 29-09-201521:55
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