In Memory of Anna Politkovskaya
On 7 October 2006 Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was murdered. This killing was directed against each one of us.
On 8 October around three thousand people came out onto Pushkin Square in Moscow, many holding placards with words suggested by Lev Ponomaryov: “Anna, we will replace you!” Of course neither Ponomaryov, nor any of us think that we can replace Anna as a journalist.
I believe the sense of those words and that feeling lie in the fact that in our country you need to be prepared to be killed if you dont give up arguing with the regime not about trivia, but about fundamental things, as Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya did. I am convinced that Anna Stepanovna sensed and did not ignore the threat to her own life. And I think that she had to become “accustomed” to that threat in order to continue to live and work.
Now each of us faces “replacing” Anna Stepanovna in just one respect, we must become accustomed (if one can get used to this) to the thought that you may be killed if you argue with the regime.
Who Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was for our country has been the subject for almost all major Russian newspapers. Reactions to her death have been published in the major newspaper of many other countries. It would be hard to add anything. Nonetheless I would like to add under Anna Politkovskayas portrait (the portrait many people at the memorial meeting were holding, and which I asked to have for our museum) the response from Yevgenia Lyozina, who formerly worked in our Musem, and is presently continuing her education in Italy.
Yury Samodurov, Director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre
Anna Politkovskaya - a person I envy
Anna Politkovskaya. I only saw her a few times, and never spoke with her. A young, beautiful, well-groomed woman, born in 1958 (the same year as my mother). She looked very sure of herself. You cant forget people like her because the first assessment you give them on meeting them is AN INDIVIDUAL. And they always stay in your memory.
I dont know if you can envy somebodys death, but honestly, I envy Anna Politkovskayas death. Not because I so want to be murdered by some scum in a lift with bullets in the breast and head when Im returning home with shopping. Because I, like many others, understand that the murder happened because by her work Politkovskaya gave no let up to those who violate all laws of truth in our country. That Annas murder was linked to her professional activities is not, I think, questioned by anyone.
There is a wise opinion that “the significance of a person is defined by the goal for which they live and the price they are prepared to pay to achieve that goal”. The vile murder in the entrance of her own block of flats was, it would seem, the price which Anna Politkovskaya paid to achieve her objective – to tell the truth whatever the cost, as a journalist and as a citizen.
I have not lived so very long, and looking at the example of that courageous woman I want to live my life worthily, as she did. To do that, as I understand, it is absolutely crucial to remain closer to the truth. As for Anna Politkovskaya, truth without any doubt was and has remained for ever on her side.
It is clear to the point of banality that they kill or, more accurate, take out “contracts” on those they fear. And those who came to power in our country on anti-Chechnya bravado, on their readiness to push their way into latrines and shove all their supposed enemies heads down them, more than anything in the world fear the truth spoken alone about what their bravado has led to. They fear the truth about Beslan and Nord Ost, and the death of peaceful civilians, the truth about torture, cleansing, about the many years of WAR.
We all know (as do they) that the truth about that was told over recent years primarily by “Novaya gazeta” journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She told it, and this is particularly important, clearly and professionally. So that it could be heard. Heard both in Russia (as always, however, by those who had the ears to listen), and by those beyond (during my recent trip to London it was incredible to see Anna Politkovskayas books on the shelves in all bookshops, theyre bestsellers there and known!)
And of course that annoyed them. It annoyed those who started the war in Chechnya and are keeping it going. The truth that Anna told were a thorn in the side of those who constantly lie to us, trying to treat as, as always, as fools!
With each day over recent times the feeling has been mounting in me of shame for our country and for all of us, its citizens. I am ashamed to live in a country where people devoid of any conscience and intelligence are in power, first and foremost because I understand that any nation is worth its rulers.
On the other hand, there is also a rising hope when I remember that in Russian there still are PEOPLE, those like Anna Politkovskaya.
I genuinely envy her that unlimited talent in combination with a high moral level. Albeit that it was these qualities that made her the target of hatred and of a hired killing.
I feel envy for that limitless courage and daring with which she lived and died.
I understand that a petty regime without any conscience can fear only a very great talent which bears influence. It can sense the threat only of a strong and striking individual, upholding truth, because in relation to other resources such a regime has no competition. There it has nothing to fear and knows it.
I realize with bitterness also that there are no more people like Anna and will not be. Each individual is unique, and years of work, education and experience are need for the growth and development of an individual. There simply cannot be any substitute for people like Anna Politkovskaya, Galina Starovoitova, because they are incomparable in their profoundly moral talent, inimitable in their personal charisma.
Such stars burn as if by chance, perhaps once in an era, and in the surrounding darkness ones eyes hurt from such an unaccustomed light which they radiate. I know definitely, however, that having once met such a star and understand their significance, one can no longer live like before. Because that meeting makes the darkness too obviously oppressive and the light illuminated by that star remains in the memory for ever, becoming the object of eternal striving. And perhaps even envy!
Yevgenia Lyozina, student