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What do we know about Anna Politkovskaya?
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, 02 2010
ImageOn May 28th, 2010, the House of Journalists in the capital hosted a discussion of the topic: “What do we know about Anna Politkovskaya?” The International League of Young Journalists organized the discussion with the support of the Union of Russian Journalists. Itturns out that we know very little, and we do not have a desire, and are unlikely ever to have a desire, to explore her works. Themeeting, however, was able to discuss whether journalists were able to change the nation. Twelve people came to hear about Anna, and they learned about her from people who knew her: ‘Novaya Gazeta’ staff commentator Vyacheslav Izmailov, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ deputy editor Vitaly Yaroshevsky, and Vitaly Chelyshev, deputy editor of ‘Journalist’ magazine.
The was supposed to be a Skype teleconference with students from the journalism college of Milan University, but it was constantly interrupted by an unstable Internet connection. Andrea Riscassi, professor at Milan University and a representative of the ‘Anna è viva’ (‘Anna is alive’) organization, was still able to speak with Moscow: “I am afraid that people will quickly forget everything. Itis awful. Noone should die, but there are some professionals who need to known and remembered.”

“My mother always felt it her duty to work on topics that were serious and demanded scrutiny by the public, and, therefore, journalists,” said Vera Politkovskaya, her daughter, while sharing her views with ‘Novaya Gazeta’. “She only said one thing about the Chechen problem while explaining to us, her loved ones, why she involved herself in such a dangerous matter: no one is involved in this, and if Ido not do it then who will?”

The profession is in crisis, experts said, and they compared freedom’s current state of affairs with events in the 1990s. Backthen, even though journalists alone were unable to stop the Chechen war, close to the end there was a maximum of support for stopping it: at the time there was professional solidarity that was able to stir the public. Onereason for today’s indifference is professional envy, while the second reason is that other journalists now occupy an opposing position. According to Vyacheslav Izmailov: “Anya irritated the Russian security services, and thereby irritated journalists who depended on them for their work.” Very few people nowadays are willing to give up comfort and financial well being for the sake of risk to life and dubious awards. “A person who once helps someone, and who once writes the truth, a river of will start people coming to him. Ifthis person has a conscience, he will try to listen to all of them. Thiswas the type of person that Politkovskaya was,” said Vitaly Yaroshevsky. Theyoung people in attendance admitted they did not want to be like her, but that they were poorly acquainted with her work. Atthe same time they accused the journalist of only seeing one side of the truth and basing her work on rumors. Theexperts argued that she was always on the side of the weak, and she assumed responsibility for any error she made to prevent tragedy.

One must at least try to make the country different, the guests explained to their younger colleagues. Whenwe write the truth, we make people’s hearts a bit more sensitive: “In fact, as soon as the public feels that something is being changed because of us, it will start relating to journalists differently,” commented Vitaly Chelyshev. “Write the truth, but life is dear. Iam not telling you to write the truth and fear nothing, because you will get nothing for this but gratitude,” continued Vitaly Yaroshevsky. Nowadays few, if any, react to journalists’ articles, and nothing changes. Itseems a vicious circle, and credibility must return to the profession.

In the emptying auditorium, the deputy chief editor of ‘Journalist’ magazine explained to the few bright-eyed, future professionals remaining that someone who goes into journalism is choosing a mission: to assist people. Now, however, there is a pressing need to fight for those rights that we still have.

The University of Milan is ready to maintain communication with the journalistic communities in different countries. “Young journalists should believe in themselves. Wecan change the situation using new technologies, but the main thing is to speak the truth and stick together,” was the inspiration given by Andrea Riscassi. Otherwise society runs the risk of becoming accustomed to the murder of journalists.

The ‘Anna è viva’ association will publish essays from the panelists, as well as from members of the International League of Young Journalists.

May 28th discussion in the House of Journalists: “What do we know about Anna Politkovskaya?” Organized by the International League of Young Journalists.

Andrea Riscassi, Representative of ‘Anna è viva’ and professor at the University of Milan
: Not many people in Italy know about what has been happening in your country. InMilan, we are trying to make sure that Politkovskaya is not forgotten. Todo this, we asked permission to plant trees in her memory. Iwrote the book ‘Anna è viva’, which means ‘Anna is alive’ because Ibelieve that so long as people talk about people like Anna and Paolo Borsellino, about those who have been killed by the mafia, they will not be forgotten. Shewas invited to many rallies for journalists. There are many who knew about her, because her book about Chechnya was published here right after it was published in France. Iam afraid that people will quickly forget everything after 3or 6months. Itis awful. Noone should die, but there are people who should be known and remembered and remembered every day, not just on October 7th.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky, deputy editor of ‘Novaya Gazeta’
: Ihave this persistent notion that people outside our country are more interested in our problems than we are. In1989, Iwas working as a TASS correspondent in Prague and, praise God, Iwitnessed the ‘Velvet Revolution’. Isaw it all and Iwrote about it. Itwas a very inspiring and moving story. These were events that change the world, and students in Prague started this revolution. Theyrocked a very stable and prosperous boat. Then, almost immediately afterwards, Imoved back to Moscow, still inspired by the events in Prague. Here, too, everything was seething and boiling over and many thousands were demonstrating in Moscow against the dictatorship of the Communist Party and so on. Iwas invited to the journalism college at Moscow University just to talk about what Ihad seen in Prague, and about the ‘Velvet Revolution’. HereI found myself in a totally different world, absolutely. Ientered a world of totally apathetic young people who, presumably, had made their choice and chosen their profession. Thatis when Ifirst realized with great sadness that if our profession is the future it has a very dim and very doubtful one. Mysad feelings were confirmed more than once when comrades began to die, to be killed. ‘Slava’ (Vyacheslav Izmailov) and Iand our colleagues at ‘Novaya Gazeta’ never detected much active support from the journalistic community. Inother words, those whom Imet in 1989in the auditorium at the college of journalism, by the time of the death of, for example, Anna Politkovskaya, they had already become fully developed people and journalists, so Iguess there is nothing to be surprised about.

The small numbers of you here is extra strong evidence that the profession is certainly in crisis. Maybe this is a bold statement, since Russian and Soviet journalism was always famous for the personal participation of its journalists in events in the life of our country. Itused to be important for those who chose the profession.

Alexei Kvaskov, journalism student at the Dashkova Institute, Moscow
: Iam interested in this theme because Iam interested in investigative journalism. Ourgovernment is a closed one, and what is hidden always attracts attention. Atthe moment for me it is more of a hobby. Iwould not say that Iwould do this in the future, because it is very dangerous.

Pavel Koshkin, journalism student at Moscow University
: Why is there such disdain for murdered journalists?

Vyacheslav Izmailov, commentator for ‘Novaya Gazeta’
: It seems to me that envy plays a considerable role here, because Anna could something that others could not. Shedid what others could not do, what prominent journalists could not do. In2001, Anna was detained in the Chechen village of Khatuni, where there was a Russian air assault unit stationed. According to the Chechens, people were being kept in pits and this regiment detained Anya. Thatwas in February 2001. Atthe same time, the commander of the air assault forces, General Shpak went there, as well as the well-known Russian journalist Leontiev, who at one time was a student with Anna in the same department. Anyaasked him: “Help me out here,” but Leontiev told her: “I’m working for the other side.” Anya was barely able to get out of that situation alive.

So that is one reason: envy. Thesecond reason is probably that they hold different (political) positions. Thisis the main thing. Anyairritated the Russian security services, and thereby irritated those journalists who were in that line of work and depended on the security services.

There have been extra judicial executions. ThePresident, during his last meeting with human rights activists, used instead the word ‘repression’. Itcould be ‘repression’, but it is more accurate to call it ‘settling scores’ and they have put people in jail for this not once, but many times.

Vitaly Chelyshev, secretary of the Union of Russian Journalists, deputy editor of ‘Journalist’ magazine, and chief secretary International League of Young Journalists
: Some soldiers, who back then detained Anna, later they had personal problems, and of course they did not turn to Leontiev: they turned to Anna Politkovskaya. Asa matter of fact, every human rights advocacy group can be considered to be just another part of society, if you can call fascists and Nazis such. Theytossed the mud on Anya very thickly, and after her death the Nazi websites featured demands that Politkovskaya’s ashes be sent to the United States so that she did not remain here. Theyalso published a highly tendentious biography about her.

Over here it is considered honorable and patriotic to discredit a person engaged human rights advocacy.

Anna Leonova, chairman of the International League of Young Journalists and journalism student at Moscow University
: There is an issue that has caused controversy for the participants in our discussion today, about how possible it is to equate journalism with human rights advocacy. Hereis Anastasia Chibisova, who writes in her essay that she does not deny Anna’s merits, but she finds it hard to trust any journalist whose works “received so many complaints, and what was the most interesting was that not all the complaints came from the government.” Anastasia does not want to be a journalist like Anna Politkovskaya. Anastasia, could you comment on your statement?

Anastasia Chibisova, student at the college of journalism at Moscow University
: Whenever people ask me about her, Iknow that Icannot say a thing about her and it is a shame considering that Iwant to go into journalism. Istarted looking around for materials with which to write an essay. Atfirst Iread the good reviews and wrote my first version, but later at the journalism department Iwas discussing this with someone else and Imet others who advised me to explore more deeply the source, because things are not so unambiguous and not so simple. Ibegan looking at other sources on the Internet, and even articles by residents of Chechnya, and they wrote that yes, she was a good journalist, but she wrote mainly rumors and gossip, that is, she did not always verify her information. Since Ifound so many statements like this, Ihesitated, but Icame here ready to reconsider my position, if necessary.

Vitaly Chelyshev
: There is this great guy, journalist Dima (Dmitry) Florin. Now, Ithink, he works over at ‘Kavkazsky Uzel’ as their Moscow correspondent. Hedid a telephone interview with Natalya Estemirova. Theline was not as bad as it is with Italy, but still it was not that great. Natalya wanted to name some people who, according to her information, according to rumors, as you just said, might suffer reprisals. Dimatold her: “Let me call you back tomorrow morning” and so she did not give these names and by the next morning she had already been taken away and murdered. Inmy opinion, there are things for which a journalist should take responsibility. Inorder to prevent a tragedy, he should be ready to accept responsibility for mistakes and be ready to answer for them, let me put it that way. Idid not know Anna as well as her colleagues over at ‘Novaya Gazeta’ did, but she worked like a torpedo: she flew there and back again. Sheworked independently. Atmany publications there are people who work like this, and this is not an accusation.

Ido not know if there will be a Sakharov Prize this year. Thatis where Iusually ran into her. Inreal life she was a very gentle person, and often journalists who write harshly know how to speak softly. Ihave never seen her get upset or raise her voice. Perhaps there were certain situations that Inever was present at, but again this is not an accusation. Thefact is, she stepped on so many toes that when Putin said her death brought more misery to Russia than her work did, he was certainly not just expressing his own opinion, but the opinion of those whose sore toes she had been stepping on. Theydid not want to let her go anywhere. Itis possible that Beslan might have ended differently, but you know she was evacuated to the emergency room at Rostov-on-Don. Shedied. Shewas poisoned. Theypacked her in ice, Dima Muratov said. Shewas not allowed to go there because they were afraid that she might tell the truth, but that was not the most important thing was that it was possible she could have solved the situation without them. Inthis case Ido not think mixing journalism with human rights is so terrible. Estemirova, who was she? Wasshe a journalist who wrote under a pseudonym for ‘Novaya Gazeta’? Orwas she an official human rights activist?

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Ithink that Vitaly (Chelyshev) answered your question. Theydo not kill people who use rumors. Theyare not persecuted. Believe me, they do not beat them in the kidneys with rods. Theymurder those who learn something very dangerous about very dangerous people. Thisis what Anya knew a lot about. Theykilled her, not because she collected rumors about Chechnya. Theykilled her, perhaps, because she learned about the extra judicial killings, the abductions, and the torture. These are not rumors: this is professional work.

Iwatched her. First off, Istarted working with her back when we were both at ‘Obshchaya Gazeta’, but people are not stools, they change, and often for the worse. Ilater worked with her at ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Allof us, except for Slava, we are perhaps normal, sane journalists. Politkovskaya was different. Shewas different, Iwould say, in her high degree of not changing. Iwill explain what Imean. Shewould take on topics, which Iwould never touch, topics Iwould run away from because they were frightening, not so much for my safety, but because it was frightening and unpleasant to hear all these stories. Theyweigh on me. Iam used to living a normal life. Iam used to living peacefully. Butwho came for Politkovskaya? Bythe way, about her human rights activities: this was not defense of human rights, but just plain defense! Shedefended people. Mothers came her who had lost their children. Fathers came to her who had lost their families. Children came to her who had lost everything. Itis very difficult. Itis unbearably difficult.

Anna Leonova
: Iam ashamed to admit it, but the first time that Iread Anna Politkovskaya’s articles was in preparation for this meeting, in order to form an opinion about her work. Theywere about themes that journalists normally do not investigate. Onthe one hand, these materials made me pessimistic after reading them, that is, Iread them and everything turns out not the way Imight have imagined. Onthe other hand, Ifelt an immense respect for her, because, really, it is real journalism, because, for example, when Iread articles from foreign journalists, they have a sharp pen. Thisis real journalism. Ajournalist’s work is to point out to the authorities that something is not right, and they always accused Anna Politkovskaya of this. Butthis is normal journalism this is the style of writing that they perceive to be normal outside our country. Mypersonal opinion is that Russian journalism nowadays is quite toothless and no one makes any commentary, not only because he is afraid, but also because he is too lazy to communicate on subjects that he finds difficult.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Absolutely. Slava (Vyacheslav Izmailov) would not say this about himself, but Iwill say it: Slava is already registered in heaven because he is a man who has saved people from death. Heis a man who speaks directly with God, and please forgive the pathos. Thisis what real journalism is, this is what real defense is, not protecting rights, but protecting people. Forthis it is worth the risk. Itis worth the work. Once, while talking with a journalist, Iasked him a completely idiotic question: what materials, out of everything he had published, what materials did he consider to be his most important? Heresponded well: he said that it just some small note that led to an innocent man being released from prison. Maybe this is really so?

Returning to your question. Itwas not just envy, absolutely not. Thefact is that the current regime has fashioned society into its own form and likeness. Twice there have been civil wars in this country, well, if you count the terrible Russian civil war three times. There have been two Chechen wars, and these were not Russia’s wars against Chechnya, these were wars by Russian citizens against Russian citizens. Canyou remember at least one major statement by our fellow citizens against these wars? Atleast one mass demonstration where there more than five thousand people? Itseems to me that it is probably naive to imagine that if only the mothers of soldiers who were drafted to Chechnya, if only the mothers of children who were killed by Chechnya, if they all took to the streets, then everything would collapse. Thiswhole regime would fall. Butnothing like this has ever happened. So, an outsider, and Anna was an outsider, this is how they relate to an outsider. This, after all, is not how one relates to a colleague. Thisis how society relates to those who do not embed themselves in this very harsh scheme of things. Thisis what we exist in.

Three people from the audience (out of 12) raise their hands to the question
: “Do you believe that the regime killed Anna?”

Unidentified girl
: Anna was bringing important information to the people, so why has there been no outcry? Thiswas a valuable person for the Russian public.

Pavel Koshkin
: Ido not agree that the regime killed her. Mostlikely, the terrorists and militants whom she wrote against did it. There is still Olga Allenova, a ‘Kommersant’ journalist who also writes a lot about Chechnya. Whyhave they not killed her? Sheis still writing. Mostlikely this has nothing to do with the regime.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Izmailov also writes about Chechnya, and, at least for now, he has not been killed. So, what do you mean by “why have they not killed Allenova?” Yes, Politkovskaya was not the only one to write about Chechnya. Ido not exclude the possibility that Politkovskaya found out something. Icannot say exactly what, but Ican guess. Shecame close to some very serious secrets. Perhaps Slava is aware of this, but if he knows, he probably will not say.

Vyacheslav Izmailov
: Ido not believe that she found out some serious secret. InChechnya there have been extra judicial killings by the FSB and the Interior Ministry and by the Chechens themselves. Anyawrote about it and talked about it, because people are supposed to talk about it, and somehow protect people, even if they are not completely blameless. Shewrote about a fellow who disappeared in 2002. Heraped and murdered a girl, and Anya wrote about it. Shewas not supposed to talk about it. Noone was supposed to talk about it! Hadshe not talked about it, perhaps it would not have been as widely known. Muchof what Anya talked about was not only done by specific persons, but by the authorities, or done with the approval of the authorities. Theauthorities, certainly, were dissatisfied with her. Shewas an enemy of this government. Shewrote and the local gods, and about Ramzan Kadyrov. Shegot an interview with him. Itwas in 2004, after the death of Achmad Kadyrov. Shewrote everything that he said to her.

Unidentified girl:
Why did Anna have such a thirst for problematic topics? Shewas, after all, a woman.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Any answer to this would seem banal. Itwas simply her choice. Firstly, Ithink it makes the blood boil. Secondly, these are themes that resonate on hearing. AnnaPolitkovskaya was a completely normal person and wanted glory. Shewas ambitious. Shewanted her name known and so she took on topics that, of course, very few people would take up.

Once again Iwant to say that we like to live comfortably, but there are people for whom this is not the point of life. Theyalso want to live comfortably, but they have other priorities. Hergrowth began with the Chechen wars. At‘Obshchaya Gazeta’ we would not let her go there on official travel. Wefelt something, even though one of our war correspondents, Nadya Chuykova, had already been killed there. Thiswas the first demonstrative murder. Backthen, by the way, a lot of journalists went there.

Nowadays people do not even react, because they have become different.

Bella Shahmirza, student of journalism of Moscow University and coordinator of the ‘Face to Face’ lectures on the peoples of Russia
: It seems to me that Anna Stepanovna’s journalism was very feminine. Shewrote about real stories, not about big-time politics. Shewrote about specific people and gave specific examples showing the human face of Chechnya and the atrocities that were occurring there. Shedid not go for any military themes or feats of arms. Asonly a woman could, she was aware of everything, and it seems to me this is why she went for such problematic journalism.

Alexei Kvaskov
: Iwill tell you frankly: Ihave a rather ambiguous attitude towards her. Itseems to me that she was a controversial person. Shewas certainly a bold journalist, but her human misfortune lies in the fact that she only saw one side of the truth. Iread her articles, and in my opinion most of them related to Chechnya, and they had simply a Russophobe character, since Anna Politkovskaya highlighted the problem of only one of the peoples of Chechnya, of only the Caucasus peoples. Shewrote about atrocities inflicted by Russian soldiers on Chechen women, and the fact that they remained at home without husbands and so on. Buta real journalist has to be impartial in this respect and choose what they call a middle position, since in my opinion in war no one is right. Shewrote more for the side of the Chechens.

Anna Leonova
: She talked with these people herself.

Alexei Kvaskov
: But these are not real facts, do you understand? Someone told her something and she wrote it down. Where is the evidence? Ajournalist must follow the evidence, not just words.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Academician Sakharov responded unequivocally to pretty much the same question. Hesaid: “I am always on the side of the weak” and he did not worry about objectivity. Politkovskaya was on the side of the weak. We, the Russian people, came to Chechnya with a sword. Didthey invite us there?

Alexei Kvaskov
: And that is why the Russian people could care less. Endof story.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Correct. Thishere answers a lot of things. Shewas really an absolutely ambiguous person, as well as a journalist. Andthank God for that. Sheis not some sort of an icon, certainly not. Asfor me, some things that came out from under her pen, Itook an active dislike to them. Idisliked them because they were not written as Iwould have, and so what? Thisis natural, but her position was very clear and unambiguous, and, by the way, she also defended Russians with the same fury as she did Chechens. Ifshe never defended Russians, she would never have gone in to see the militants at Dubrovka. There were Russians sitting in that auditorium, but she went to see the militants because they said “we will talk with Politkovskaya” and you know why they said that? Theyreally wanted to negotiate the release of the hostages. Thatis why. Andsimilarly, it was for this same reason that she was flying to Beslan: not to defend the Chechens, but the Ossetians in this case. Oreven Ukrainians. Tellme, does the nationality even matter, especially if 334people were killed there, half of them children?

Vitaly Chelyshev
: Ilove her work and Iliked her as a person, but that is not the issue. Theissue is: why did she do what she was doing? Anyperson who has once helped someone, who has once written the truth, even if only once (or if twice even better), then a lot of people will start coming to him. Ifthat person has a conscience he will listen to all of them. Iam talking now in the abstract, but Iknow that Anna Stepanovna found herself in precisely this same situation because people came to her just like they did during Soviet times, when they used to go see reporters. Nownewspapers write that they do not correspond with readers and do not respond to letters.

Who was she to keep office hours for such people? Shewas a journalist who would then write about it.

These are different things: the shock at Dima Kholodov getting blown up was awful. Herlove of Listyev was probably greater, since he was a media figure, but that was only the first shock, and then later, when they killed those four editors down in Tolyatti. Whoremembers them anymore? Onlypeople in down there in Tolyatti.

They beat up this guy Domnikov, and at first they thought it was some personal dispute, but then it turned out someone paid to have it done. People are starting to get used to the fact that journalists are being murdered. Inour next issue a girl from Yekaterinburg wrote us that one of her teachers said that all journalists are corrupt prostitutes who pull up their skirts for anyone who will stick money in there. Shetried to argue, but the other students in the auditorium would not support her. Thenshe decided that perhaps they should fear the teachers, and began asking the other students: “Are you for sale?” They simply mentioned Anna, and said: “I don't want to end up like her,” because here she wrote the truth and she was murdered. Thistook place at one of our best universities. Thegirl later went to see the dean, and the dean spoke with the instructor. Terrible.
But that is not the issue. Thistrend of journalists being killed, well, you know, the sea is wet (it is a dangerous profession). Thepublic does not even notice it anymore. WhenAnna was murdered, there was a demonstration in Finland. InLondon, the union organized a demonstration. Theunion of journalists in Great Britain and Ireland did this, while in Finland it was the public that went out into the street.

Unidentified girl
: Iwould like to disagree with the young man (Alexei Kvaskov). Ialso read opinions about her articles and activities. Somesupport her, while others do not. Shewas not simply a bystander: she became a part of the family that she was writing about. Heremotions were justified. Ramzan Kadyrov called her a storyteller. Ibelieve that these could not have been rumors. Shewas an eyewitness: she saw it all. Shetalked with these people, and she told the truth about it.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: How old were you in 1996? Four? Iwas a lot older. InDecember 1994, the first Chechen war began. We, the journalists, Inow understand, we had this illusion that we could stop the war. Ihave to tell you that society back in the 1990s was completely different. Journalism was different. Itwas free. Itwas alternative. There was ‘Izvestiya’ and ‘Rossiyskaya Gazeta’, ‘Obshchaya Gazeta’, and even ‘Moskovskaya Pravda’, and though they all wrote it differently, clearly they all wrote the same thing: “Stop the war! Youstarted it” and by that Imean the leadership of the country “So you must stop it.” Hundreds were dying down there. Whatother argument is needed for objectivity? Wetalked about specific things: “Stop killing people, stop it! Nota single one of your high-level goals and high-level tasks is worth a human life. Thisis already a two thousand year-old maxim.” But no, the war went on, but Imust tell you that the journalists brought the end closer. Thentimes changed, and there came other leaders who unleashed a second war and put the gag to us. Absolutely. Theytotally gagged us. Russia is a country of television. Remember these subjects: you, perhaps, have not noticed them. Remember the objectivity of the state media. Television here is completely part of the state.

Unidentified girl
: Igot my answer from her articles. Chechnya is in Russia, and it is not as far away as everyone thinks. Itis also a war.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Anya, definitely, made a mistake, and this can be said. Shebelieved that it could not reach us. Inthis case Ido not exclude myself from this trade, though Iwork for a completely different newspaper and this newspaper definitely has taken a harsh position. Shethought that by talking about someone else’s troubles she might suddenly awaken something in the public. Shethought: who, indeed, will take this up and go to demonstrate in front of the capital? Notthree people with “Stop the War” signs, but three hundred thousand. Butit never happened. Alot of people came to her funeral, though. Welove to go to funerals.
What kind of journalism is there a demand for? Iwill now give you a small example: Beslan, a terrible tragedy. There was a rally on the Vasilevsky Spusk organized by United Russia and its minions. Theydrove 200thousand people over there, in the dark. Iwas in the crowd and Ihad heard such talk: “They promised me an extra month’s pay”, “They threatened to take away my bonus.” People were explaining to one another why they came, while next to us were people from the Union of Russian Officers, wearing black uniforms and distributing leaflets. Onthe leaflets were the words: “Arm the Russians down there, down with people from the Caucasus.” You see, this was supposed to be a rally of solidarity with the Ossetian people. Weare such incorrigibles.

In Rome, at the same time and on the same day, without United Russia and without Berlusconi, a million people came to a demonstration! Amillion! Moreover, the city government appealed directly to Romans: “Do not go to the demonstration, it is very dangerous.” They did not know where Beslan was, but they heard that 334people were killed there, and the Romans took to the streets with their children. Theytold them: “A crowd is for a terrorist is like water is for a fish. Youare not only risking your lives, but also the lives of your children.” They did not care. Thisis what is known as a civil society. Thisis a civil society, whether it is in Rome, the Netherlands, or Finland. Bythe way, in Finland 3thousand went to demonstrate in front of the Russian Embassy (when Politkovskaya was murdered). Notthe two hundred as they declared. Theylive there for their own pleasure.

You know, people are ambiguous, and Politkovskaya was also ambiguous. Thiswas her personal and professional charm. Forher there were no such issues as whether or not she was objective. Generally, in principle, according to the Hamburg score, one must be objective, but when you see, excuse me for pressing this, a dead child on the road and beside him is his mother with an arm torn off and you know that it was not a fascist helicopter that just flew over, but one of our helicopters, and those are not the occupiers in that tank over there, but our own APC, when you see it and know it Shewas not a robot. Itwas all there and she wrote about it.

She did not have a cold mind. Shewas a person burning with the hottest of emotions. There were many times that we collided and the sparks flew from her eyes.

Anna Leonova
: What is the truth of the war? Manyjournalists say they do not understand where the truth is.

Vyacheslav Izmailov
: Iam glad that you asked that question. Asa matter of fact, my first profession was not journalism, but soldiering. Iwas in Afghanistan as a deputy battalion commander, and Iserved during the first Chechen war, for more than a year Iwas a staff officer at the headquarters of the 205th Brigade in Chechnya.

You say that she wrote more about Chechens. Whatthe heck, during the first Chechen war, Iwas not only there, Ikept records of everything. Upto two thirds of our losses in the first war were not from Chechen bullets. Ata minimum two-thirds were from us killing ourselves, and often on purpose. There were accidents, but a lot of it was on purpose. AtKhankala they sometimes had air assault forces there, or Internal Ministry or Defense Ministry forces. Thiswas utter hell. Ifthere were air assault forces there, they would take these kids from the Defense Ministry and troops from the Interior Ministry, and not just take them, they would shoot at them and they would kill them! Notjust one or two! Oncethey killed four of my boys. Thisreally happened. Two-thirds of our losses were because our own people murdered them. Youknow, Italked with our young boys who had just arrived in Chechnya. Theywere kept locked in the armory at the unit where they were so they would not run away, and then they were put on a plane and sent to Chechnya. Thisis what Isaw. So, which side the truth Iwould be on, and how Iwould do things if Iwere, for example, president Iabsolutely do not know. Iwould probably desert.

But Ihave seen it. Ihave seen such filth. Filth from our own people. Now, as to the fact that there are kidnappers, the fact is, they did not give Anya any interviews. Notjust that, they would not talk about their work. Theywanted to look good. Always. Evenwhen they were kidnapping people, and so they stayed far away from the journalists. ButAnna saw what the government was doing when it was killing people who were often guilty of absolutely nothing. Shetalked about it and how there was a lot more going on than what we could see on the surface, but all of this was forbidden during the second war. Youcould only travel to Chechnya if you were accredited. Youarrived at Khankala and they would give you a guard and show things to you, but if you went off on your own somewhere, if you got caught, at best you would be sent home, at worst, Ido not know what they would do. Annadid not want that. Shewanted to see it. Therefore, when talking about rumors: there may have been rumors somewhere.

For example, in1999 we were in Ingushetia. Wewere not allowed into Chechnya and so we were standing at this checkpoint in Ingushetia and these women were talking. Shewrote down their words, yes, these were probably rumors. Butshe did not just write rumors: she also wrote what she had really seen. Didyou know how she got there in order to see these things? Inthe trunk of a car. Shewas taken from Khatuni, where she was located, by the vice-premier of Chechnya, Ilyasov. Andin 2001our own boys put her in front of a simulated firing squad. Theytook her out of there by aircraft.

But there was also this: she went to Chechnya with official human rights advocates and journalists as well. Shewas a problem for everyone who went there officially. Thatis, she hid, while the others did not. Shehid because she did not want to see what they wanted to show, but what they did not want to show and actually existed.

Pavel Koshkin
: There is no demand for biased journalism, at least among students of journalism. AnnaPolitkovskaya’s articles are still biased because there are so many emotions and there is no balance, and so many students tend not to trust her. Butwhen Iread a biased article from, say, a Western journalist, Ialways wonder: is this person trying to earn a living? Thatis, he highlights one point of view and it is to his advantage. Perhaps it is not. Ihave not read a lot of articles by Anna Politkovskaya because it seems to me that she cannot be trusted, because, on the one hand she is biased, while on the other hand, after all, Ido not know her as a person. Thisis why the public was apathetic and unwilling to learn about her.

Vitaly Chelyshev
: Iam afraid that society has changed greatly over the past ten years, and even more so over the last 12. Whyis that? Youdo not find any discordance in the press. Youhave not seen the variety we used to have, when you wanted to stamp on one newspaper and read the other. Inprinciple, every newspaper at one point or another has a certain bias. Today we are talking about Anna, and we can remember her exactly like this: Iwas very good friends with Galya Starovoitova, who was removed from office. Sheworked on ethnic relations for Boris Nikolayevich (Yeltsin). Shewas removed from her position because she was opposed to the impending war.

Ihad a different relationship with Mikhail Nikiforovich Poltoranin, it was up and down, but for old time’s sake we were mostly friends. Butthen he took issue to the war, and he was fired and his issue was that there should be no war. Khasbulatov and Rudskoi went to Yeltsin and asked: “What are you doing? Tomorrow everyone will be hanging from lampposts.” They did that, and the various media looked on the war as a crime. Backthen Iwas putting out this ecology daily, and it was way off schedule, but Imade sure our paper was on Boris Nikolayevich’s desk. Itclosed soon afterward. Wewere driven into a corner, but we had to do it. Today, journalists know that: a) they cannot, and b) they will not only be shut down, they will probably also end up with a half million-ruble fine in court and their children taken away. Understand that today we are living in a changing country. Ithas not merely grown older, but fossilized. Whether you water it or not, Isee no green shoots, but the young people who write to me, they give me hope because the youth who write to me are still alive.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Does anyone know how many Chechen civilians have died during the two Chechen wars? Nobody does. Thefollowing figures are circulating: 120thousand, from 50to 100thousand, and Khasbulatov has come up with the figure of 200thousand. Whatworld are we living in? Where is this? Thisis our country and we do not know how many people have died here? Perhaps maybe we need to talk about this?

Now Iwill give you some figures: the audience of ‘First Channel’ is 100million. Theaudience of ‘Second Channel’ is 80million, and NTV is 60million. Thecirculation of ‘Novaya Gazeta’ is 270thousand. Sowhy bother to stifle it?

How was it back during the 1990s? Think about it, and read about it. Itis very important to understand where we live and with whom we are dealing and their feverish dash. Youall probably have already been brainwashed. So, for her articles in ‘Novaya Gazeta’ Politkovskaya goes digging up topics in that minefield. Shewrites her material. Yegor Yakovlev, the editor of the ‘Obshchaya Gazeta’, he calls up Oleg Dobrodeyev, the chief information officer for NTV, who asks him: “What’s going on over there?” And (Yakovlev) says: “Politkovskaya here found something out!” “Okay, we’ll do a story. Hereit comes.” And 150thousand readers of ‘Obshchaya Gazeta’ overnight grow to 40million. Thatwas what television was back then, it was about professional solidarity.

They killed our Nadya Chuykova down in Chechnya, and Ihave already mentioned this. Twojournalists went down there and looked for her for a week, and they found her. Howthey managed to stay alive, Istill do not know. Theybrought her back here and we buried her. Buton the day we found her, Igot a call from ‘Izvestiya’. Backthen Iwas deputy editor of ‘Obshchaya Gazeta’. ‘Izvestiya’ calls and says: “We need something for the front page.” Isaid: “Guys, Ihave neither the strength nor the emotion for this.” “That’s your problem. Weneed a quote. Inbrief.” They tossed out their schedule and stopped the presses until they could put something on the front page about how a reporter for ‘Obshchaya Gazeta’ was found murdered in Chechnya. Canyou imagine anything like this happening nowadays?

Iknow some people very well, people who now serve the authorities with great pleasure. Andeven more: they were different back then. People change. I, too, apparently Iam changing. At‘Novaya Gazeta’ Iwork according to a very simple principle: Iam not ashamed here. Itmay come as a surprise, but it plays a role. Iam an adult, but working alongside me are very capable, very young people. OnceI used to think: what is it that keeps them here? Acareer? No, that is a big, fat zero. Yes, that and hemorrhoids. Deputy chief editor for ‘Novaya Gazeta’ is one constant headache. Salary? Modest, and not even always paid on time. Benefits? Onlyrecently did we even learn how that word is pronounced. There is nothing at all. Itjust turns that when Ispeak from the sidelines Iam not at all ashamed. Youcan make a name for yourself, and here there is some hope. Butno shame, and that is very important.

Vitaly Chelyshev
: They are like a Noah’s Ark that collects everyone. When‘Obshchaya’ collapsed, where did they go? To‘Novaya’. Ido not know if they even get paid there, but Ido know that if Isuddenly get in a fight over at ‘Journalist’ and Ineed somewhere to go, Iwill go to Muratov and say: “Look, can Isign up with you? Because Idon’t know any other place like this where you don’t feel ashamed.”

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: ‘Vadya’ (Vadim) Rechkalov used to work with me over at ‘Obshchaya’ and back then he never even thought about not writing something. Hewould get scared if he remembered the things he used to write for Yegor Yakovlev back then. Bythe way, he went to Chechnya and wrote some very high-quality material back then. ‘Misha’ (Mikhail) Leontiev also used to be different.

Anna Leonova
: Ireceived a letter from a Czech journalist. Asfar as Iunderstand it, she works with ‘Memorial’. Shesaid that for the first time the Czech Republic has a government committee to deals with resisting the return of Chechen refugees to their homeland. Thisis a question of just how much they can do at the government level to regulate this. TheCzech Republic is in fact the first such country to claim that conditions for life do not exist in Chechnya. Inaddition, there are certain psychological issues: people who have spent any time in Europe are never going to be allowed to get jobs, they are going to be sent on over to the police station, and if they refuse they know what will happen to them.
She sent me a press release about how they are now bringing together similar commissions and trying to evoke interest in this at the government level in other European countries. Ido not know, since a lot of this smacks of international scandal mongering.

Carlotta Mariani, a student of the college of journalism at Milan University
: Ithink it is very important to talk about Anna and make sure that people know about her work, so that nothing like this ever happens again. People also need to know about what happened in Chechnya and other parts of the world. Wealso have a lot of journalists like her, for example, Walter Tobaggi and Roberto Saviano.

Anna Politkovskaya told the truth, and thanks to people like her, people know the reality and can live in our society. Iread her book about Chechnya and was very surprised, because what Isaw on television was quite different. Shewas a great journalist, a great writer and a great person.

A question to the auditorium
: “Do you want to be like Anna Politkovskaya?”

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: No, you all should stay alive. There is an unspoken rule: no article is worth the life and health of a journalist. Nota one, believe me, even the most acute issue. Wehave lost six (journalists). Thisis a terrible loss. Welost our best people, and that is that. Theydid their duty, of course. Thekingdom of heaven is for them, but it is not even worth discussing: it would be better if they were still alive.

Unidentified girl
: Is Julia Latynina trying to do the same thing as Anna Politkovskaya?

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: And she has already been threatened. There was a time when they even gave her bodyguards. Shewas directly threatened.

Polina Myakinchenko, student of journalism at Moscow University
: So what are young journalists to do, if on the one hand they want to write the truth, but on the other hand they hold their lives dear?

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Write the truth, but hold life dear. Youare writing the truth so that the country can become different. Itwas once different, do you understand? Ihad wonderful times here. Things were absolutely crazy, we were half-starved, but Ihave never seen so many people out in the street since then. Itwas at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. Those devils and their Putsch, and when people stopped the tanks, just some men in spectacles with briefcases, and Isaw how they stood out in front of the ‘White House’ (Russian Parliament). Itwas like 1941during the war. Thatis how a country should be. Itshould be free and very welcoming of those who live in it and embrace those who wish to come here. Butour country has a solution rate for murdered journalists of only 2percent. Since 1991up until now, 215journalists have been killed in Russia, and perhaps, even more. So, if the solution rate for murdered journalists is only 2percent, as it is now, then Iwill certainly tell you to write the truth, but stay alive.
I am probably supposed to tell you to write the truth and not be afraid of anything, because you will receive nothing but gratitude. IfPolitkovskaya wrote about people being killed in Chechnya, killed by the local authorities, then how is the federal government supposed to respond to this, can you tell me?

Vitaly Chelyshev
: Christ once spoke about people with uncircumcised hearts. Oursociety has been knocked around in so many ways that these feelings have been lost. Iwas once surprised by something. Itwas probably in 1994, when Iwas in Minnesota at some discussions on joint environmental programs. Theytalked about their troubles and Ispoke about a strange situation we had, most likely caused by atom bomb tests, when we began having these blue and purple children being born who would die at about 3months of age. There were many facts concerning this, so it was no coincidence, but while Iwas talking about it, Ilooked up and saw that half the hall was crying. Forme that was my first such shock, because Inever would have got such a reaction here. Overhere people might react to some sensational article, but Iwould never see tears.

Something else about reactions: last year, in the spring, several British newspapers were collecting information about expenses rung up by members of parliament, how much of the budget they were spending on themselves. OneMP had an island built on his little lake, and so on. Thiswas done using money that was supposed to be spent on social needs. Doyou know how it ended? Itended with a series of scandalous resignations over a three-month period. Theytook up the cases and took them to court and sued them, and then even more facts came out. Every day over here the newspapers write about corruption, but many papers only have freedom of speech for the sovereign. ‘Lida’ (Lydia) Grafova once called this ‘freedom of listening’. Ifyou have not touched somebody really important, and even if you did, there is no response. Issomething going on with Daimler-Benz? Medvedev seems to have given some orders about bribes and the prosecutor general seems to be doing something, but is the public in the long run even interested? Itknows that some investigation accidentally found out about specific figures, but they are so high up in the government that they are still unnamed. Society knows that everyone is taking bribes, everywhere, and corruption is a part of our lives. So, when we write the truth, we make people’s hearts a little bit more sensitive. Theymust believe that it can be so, that they can be told the truth. Here, there are these appeals on YouTube, and many people are smacking themselves on the head, but it does not matter, because these are now a form of expression and the whole world now has a mini-TV. Well, Ido not mean a normal television set, perhaps you can say they have a mini-BBC. Sohere there was a policeman talking, and a teacher, and a woman whose child was run over by a judge, so now the prosecutor has to deal with it. Infact, as soon as the public feels that something is changing because of this, it starts to relate to it differently, to themselves and to journalists. Whenjournalists are just flies that bug you with their buzzing, then they will just get a flyswatter and end of story.

Andrea Riscassi
: Everyone, not just young journalists, must believe in themselves. Journalists can change a situation, and especially with new technologies. Tellthe truth, like Anna Politkovskaya did, tell people what you see. Itis very important that all young journalists stick together, because they will try to divide you up. Itis best to stay together. Notnecessarily to go and get killed, in Italy or in Russia, it is important that in the future no one gets killed. Themain thing is to tell the truth.

Anna Leonova
: Iwould like to quote from essays the participants here have written. Inparticular, Antonia Ciballos from Spain, who says that she first heard about Anna at an event called “the opposition, social movements, and the press in Russia.” There she listened to the speaker, Oksana Cholysheva. Prior to that she had never heard about Anna. These facts made her not just to think about issues, but also made her read, along with her colleagues, a newspaper entitled ‘The Caucasus News’. Thisall happened in Spain, as Irecall. Shebegan to study in detail problems of immigration and the Anna Politkovskaya case. Sheread her book on Chechnya and liked it very much. Asshe puts it, for her Politkovskaya was a person who was beyond any official announcements. Themain thing for her was to look at the news so that she as a journalist could isolate something from the news flow, human stories and important stuff. Mycolleague expresses a hope that, in Russia and other countries, this case will not simply be forgotten.

The only thing that seemed strange to me was the parallel she tried to make between the wars in South Ossetia (and Chechnya). Shesays that no one wants to broadcast information about what happened during this war, but this, in my view, it is a different matter because it is generally accepted that the initiation of this war was not entirely our fault. Certainly, we do not know the whole truth, Ithink, but Chechnya and Georgia make poor comparisons.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: Yes, there (in Chechnya) it is counter-terrorist operation, while here in South Ossetia it is genocide. Thatis the entire difference. Ifyou want to listen to my advice, then do not do even go here. Everything else will be okay. After all, they have beaten this into our heads like a nail. Comrade Churkin was shouting in the UN General Assembly: “How many more victims do you need before you start counting?” The Western journalists got to him, Iguess. Asa result, our Prosecutor General’s Office found that 154have been killed during the fighting, and this is what we are calling genocide. This, Imust say, is a serious word, and it calls everything else into question. Tryto look at it from a distance.

Vitaly Chelyshev
: You must understand that it not just in the government structures that there exists a war party, but also in society. There is a fascist terrorist underground that is killing people. Oncesomeone named Popov, this so-called ‘leader of the Russian lands’, he published on his website, knowing that real killers had been caught, he published on his website that it was on his orders that a human rights activist was shot dead in Saint Petersburg. Hissite is still up. Forthreatening a terrorist attack over the phone you can receive a sentence under the penal statutes, but for him: nothing. About what happened in Stavropol, Ido not know who did it, but which one of these pigs would not like to have done it, now that is the question. These are people who do not like it that people can sit together in one auditorium, Russians, Azeri, Turks, Chechens, Georgians, and Ukrainians, and applaud one another. Theydo not like it. Others say that that all these (murders) were just personal disputes. Idoubt it. Ithink that in this case, Anna would already be in Stavropol. There are people who care, and if a journalist cares about something, then it means that there are at least thousands of readers who care about the same problem. Ifa journalist is sincere. Ifhe is not sincere, Ithink that no matter what he writes he will not find a reader.

Anna Leonova
: In confirmation of your words, here is an essay from another participant, from Nigeria, who tells of a very similar case. Awell-known journalist in Nigeria was killed for political reasons. Thiswas 20years before Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. Heconcludes his essay by saying that we need to follow the words of this Nigerian journalist, and follow in Anna’s footsteps, for one reason: if a person does not see anything risky in front of him, in the information that he is supposed to tell us, then he has no reason to live because a journalist lives for his material and his stories.

Vitaly Yaroshevsky
: God forbid, do not follow in anyone’s footsteps. Should any murder, you understand, concern you? IgorDomnikov was killed because he was investigating a corruption scandal in the Lipetsk region. Whoever ordered his murder is still at large. Wehave been publishing material about this man and published his photograph. Myquestion is: why is he still at large?
There should be at least one reader who is saying: “Come on, for a start at least question this man.”

Vitaly Chelyshev
: The position of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office is that an article in the press can be the basis for a case, but no one pays attention to this. In1996, Yeltsin signed a decree amending Article 810concerning civil servants. Hisamendment stated that a government employee is obliged to examine any statement in the press within three days, and respond to it within 10. President Putin extended this decree in 2000, but in 2005, even though no one said that it needed to be overturned, it ended up on the list of cancellations. There, separated merely by commas, were 20pieces of legislation, including this one. Inreal life, the legal profession, and journalists, we still rely on old Soviet laws that still have not been cancelled. Mostof the press does not use these, only ‘Novaya’ does when appealing to the Prosecutor General on our lack of success in getting the FSB to respond to something. Onlywhen we do this do we start getting any answers, satisfactory or otherwise. Thefact is, feedback from the public is discrete: sometimes there is, sometimes there is not, so Ithink that we still have to fight for the rights that we still have.

Unidentified girl
: Our Italian colleague said, “let us unite and make a free press.” But what should we do? Iwent into journalism to learn, and Ihave a very vague idea about how it is going to be when Ifinish. Whatsociety while Ibe living in? Because what is happening now is not good.

Vera Kichanova, student at the college of journalism at Moscow University and activist in the Moscow student web
: My opinion about Anna has not changed during this discussion, because everything that has been stated has been in line with the impression Ihave about her. Inthis case, the major facts have merely reinforced my opinion that what is left of our civil society looks rather pitiful. Ourolder colleagues compare the current state of affairs with how it was back in the 1990s, back when there was solidarity among journalists. Theytalked about what was going on abroad and about how people in Italy took to the streets to support those who were suffering, and Yekaterinburg was also given as an example. Unfortunately, even here in Moscow, it seems that people still need to build a civil society. Justthis academic year, on October 7th, on the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder, our journalism class lecture finishes with an assignment. Wehave to write a column, and the instructor says: “Today, you all know, is a special day, October 7th. Today is Vladimir Putin’s birthday. Write something on this topic.” Iwas furious and Iwrote about it on LiveJournal, on the ‘Novaya Gazeta’ blog, by the way. After this Iget a phone call from a different instructor, and he asks me: “Why do you need to write such stuff? Thisis the kind of civil society we live in.”

Vitaly Chelyshev
: Ithink everyone is different. Perhaps you have heard of a group called ‘The Sixties’. Backwhen they were all under the same bushel basket, under the same pressure, they all fought for the same thing, it would seem, freedom for all. Theyall did as much as they could. Assoon as the pressure was off, there were the 33prison camps. Getting into a college of journalism was the choice of mission. Roughly speaking, when a man chooses this profession, he says to himself: “I am going there to help people, Iam going to tell people stories of interest so that people either receive enjoyment from my articles, or start to think and unite around something.” That is why a person chooses an undertaking. Thatis my Ifind journalism students, whatever they may be, interesting. Whenpeople enter into journalism from other professions, there is room for them over at the news agencies. Theywork better than journalism students at ‘Itar-Tass’ and ‘Interfax’. These are people who can quickly build bridges, make links, who have a fat notebook full of contacts that can get at information that is not yet publicly available. Theyare godsends for any news agency, but for newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, it is a little different.

Unidentified girl
: At the university they tell us that someone who enters the profession from the outside makes a better journalist than someone who only studies journalism, because the outsider supposedly became aware that he was interested in journalism. Andsecondly: he has already seen some things in life, so he will be able to write more interesting and have broader horizons.

Vitaly Chelyshev
: There is a point of view with which Idisagree completely, that the colleges of journalism are producing an uneducated product. Asa matter of fact, when Igraduated from the journalism college at Moscow University, the only skill that Imay have lacked but still needed Ifound at another institute of higher learning. Thiswas the theory of drama. Journalism school gives you a good education, and a professional journalist should be prepared to for the unexpected. Hetalks with a specialist, but he should suspect that specialist. Yes, there are instances when there have been journalists who came from different professions, but Iknow for sure that the guy who wrote that the college of journalism at Moscow University is the “college of unnecessary things” graduated from the same college that Idid, at age 30I was a second-year student and he was a cinematographer who never found himself a film critic or screenwriter. Itworked out that way, and so he decided to go into journalism. Thecinematography institute gives one a good general education, that is, a cultural education, maybe even a bit more, but it is not journalism, so he could never understand what goes on with people who have embroiled themselves for 5years at a college of journalism.

Vera Kichanova
: You are speaking about the quality of the education, and Iam not complaining. Theyteach us fine literature at the college, but Iam talking here about this charge of emotional energy. Tocontinue my story, on October 7th there was a demonstration over at Chistye Prudy, and Ionly found one of my instructors there. Where were all the rest? Whydid it not matter to them?

Vitaly Chelyshev
: Yes, Iunderstand. Instructors also have different attitudes toward Anna, just as other people do. Iknow this, and other relationships, but if Ihad to write an pressing column, Iwould write about three odd coincidences: the birthday of Vladimir Putin, about what he said about Anna Politkovskaya who was killed on his birthday, about how her death brought Russia more harm than her articles did, and how on that same day there was a fire and they figured it would burn down the college of journalism. Theywould have put money on it. There has been this desire to get rid of Mokhova over at the journalism college many times, but they have failed. Thatis what Iwould write as a proposed topic, and it is doubtful that any instructor would argue about it. Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) said something else that was very curious. Hehas a special attitude towards our profession. Iwould guess that this might be a little apocryphal, but it is meant to show everyone how he relates to us. Well, there he was in Australia, Ithink he was still prime minister, and the prime minister of Australia takes him into this conference room and says: “By the way, once there was another Russian prime minister here, Kerensky.” Putin said: “What do you mean? Inever knew this, when was this?” And (the Australian PM) continued: “Yes, you know, he was married to an Australian journalist, and they were both here in this room.” Here Vladimir Vladimirovich made a stern face and said: “Prime Ministers, even former ones, should stay as far from journalists as possible.”

Anna Leonova
: And on this merry note Ipropose we end our discussion today.

In ‘Novaya Gazeta’

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