Politkovskaya is well known in the West and Russia for her Chechen war reporting and is the author of The Dirty War and Putin's Russia. She had reported previous threats and attempts on her life by agents of the FSB. In 2004, she had taken ill on a flight to Beslan in a suspected poisoning.
I'll have more on this story later today.
10/8 - I apologize for the delay on this topic. Katja and I had a very unexpectedly busy Saturday.
So, where to begin on the murder of Anna Politkovskaya - a Russian news reporter who was born in New York City of the Soviet ruling elite (her parents were Soviet Ukrainian diplomats) and never as widely accepted within Russia as she was in the West. And while the BBC obituary applauds her for "honest journalism", there have been critics of her writing and reporting who cite her for wholesale invention ... or at the very least, distortion. I will say no more than that - Об умерших либо хорошо, либо никак.
Media outlets across the US and Western world will cite the contract killings and attacks on other Russian journalists. The Russian death toll for journalists was certainly troublesome over the past decade, with now 13 journalists murdered since Putin became President of the Russian Federation, two in 2005 and now four murdered in 2006 (thus far). Before Americans become too smug regarding these details, we should remember that despite a supposed "free press" we have our own history of violence against reporters and journalists as well (the Alan Berg murder and Dan Rather assault come to mind in recent years).
Even more bizarre is the fact that the murder occurred on Vladimir Putin's birthday (October 7) - a fact which might tie the murder to some misguided miscreant's idea of a vengeful birthday gift for her writing and open dislike of the immensely popular Putin. Given that it was an apparent contract killing, I don't believe this was coincidental and whomever did the killing felt they were making some sort of gift to Putin. This seems even more true given the importance of birthdays and gifts within Russia - it is very common for employees to give a party and gifts to their boss on his birthday.
It is a tragedy that Anna Politkovskaya life was taken from her. She was a gifted writer. I wish the best for her children, family, and friends.
Anna Politkovskaya, Russia's Secret Heroes of the Chechen War, excerpted from A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
Anna Politkovskaya: Putin, poison and my struggle for freedom / Culture / Russian London
From an Associated Press article today:
Politkovskaya, 48, had collected witness accounts and photos of tortured bodies and the article had been due for publication Monday, her newspaper's editors said. "We never got the article, but she had evidence about these (abducted) people and there were photographs," Novaya Gazeta's deputy editor, Vitaly Yerushensky, told Ekho Moskvy radio.
In a recent radio interview, Politkovskaya said that she was a witness in a criminal case against Moscow-backed Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, whose security forces have been accused of kidnapping civilians and other abuses.
"These are cases of kidnappings, including one criminal case concerning an abduction personally involving Ramzan Kadyrov, a kidnapping of two people, whose photographs are now on my desk," she said in comments rebroadcast Sunday by Ekho Moskvy.
In the interview, which Ekho Mosvky said had been granted to Radio Free Europe, she said that the victims, an ethnic Russian and a Chechen, were "rounded up, kidnapped for a time and killed. Their bodies showed signs of serious torture."
Politkovskaya was one of the most persistent critics of Kadyrov's security forces, but she had crossed many powerful people, including in the Russian military, with her investigative reporting and human rights advocacy.
More News Articles on and by Anna Politkovskaya:
За сведения об убийцах А.Политковской заплатят 25 млн руб. (25 Million Rubles offered for information on Anna Politkovskaya's murder)
АНЯ (Anya) by Novaya Gazeta, her newspaper
Lenta.ru: Кавказ: Рамзан Кадыров потрясен убийством Анны Политковской (Kavkaz: Ramzan Kadyrov Shaken by Murder Anna Politkovskaya)
Assassin's bullet kills fiery critic of Putin
Death of the woman who shamed Moscow - Sunday Times - Times Online
Sanitisation in Chechnya
Russians remember killed reporter
The hitmen who stalk Russia
Outrage greets slaying of top Russian journalist