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Anna Politkovskaya: Bravery, Truth, Determination - by Christopher Hughes

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    • Christopher Hughes at Pima Community College

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    Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta, was the epitome of bravery and determination and a seeker of truth in the world, the Russian Federation, and the surrounding areas. She wrote stories about atrocities conducted by the Russian government and military,bringing light to the treatment of civilians by the government. Could she have been killed for what she had said or what she was about to say? To this day, no one has been held ultimately responsible for her death. She was harshly against the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin, which could point to a cover-up to prevent the real perpetrators from being brought to justice.

    Politkovskaya was born and raised in New York and was the daughter of Ukrainian UN Diplomats. She had two children, a daughter Vera and a son Ilya. They were both grown at the time of her murder. She wrote six books and was the bravest of Russian journalists who presented a harrowing vision of a nation in chaos and the leader in charge of it. Anna Politkovskaya gained notoriety for her daring coverage of the Chechnya conflict as a lone voice screaming out in a moral wilderness. She then focused her steely gaze on the dangers to Russian stability, including Vladimir Putin. She presented a pervasive condition of degradation, and much of her writings are filled with compelling personalities and stories. An excerpt from her book Putin’s Russia:

    “ALL the murders of children that have taken place during shelling and moping-ups since 1999 have remained unsolved, uninvestigated by law enforcement agencies, child killers have not found themselves on the dock. And Putin never demanded this – although he is known as a great friend of all children. Why do I have it in for Putin? That's why I have it in for Putin. Because of his crudeness which is worse than thieving. Because of his cynicism. Because of racism. Because of endless war. Because of lies. Because of the gas at Nord-Ost. Because of corpses of the innocently killed, accompanying his entire first term as a president. Corpses that might have been avoided.” (Politkovskaya)

    She describes an army where recruits are even farmed out as slaves, parents must offer money to retrieve their deceased sons' remains, and troops perish from starvation (Hearst).

    She reveals widespread corruption in businesses, government, and the law, in which everything from business licenses to bus lines to judicial appointments is for sale. She also harshly criticizes the conflict in Chechnya, where rapes, torture, illegal assassinations, and abductions breed terrorism instead of putting an end to it. Furthermore, Politkovskaya criticized the West for its complete support of the Russian president as well as Putin for suppressing civil freedoms and pushing the nation back toward a dictatorship a la the Soviet Union.

    In 2004, the Beslan school hostage crisis happened. Armed militants entered a school capturing about 1,100 people hostage. Anna tried to help. She used to work a lot in Chechnya and thought that if she convinced Maskhadov, the Chechen President at the time, to come to Beslan to negotiate with the armed militants, the hostages would be released. Politkovskaya attempted to fly there to act as a mediator between authorities and the gunmen. On the plane there, she was poisoned and fell into a coma for two days. Thankfully she recovered, but unfortunately never made it to Beslan (Anna Politkovskaya Interview After Beslan 2004). There were 330 people killed in the Beslan school attack, most of whom were children in primary and secondary grades (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica).

    In an interview done right after the Beslan incident, she recounts the dangers of being a journalist in Russia and what happened. She said, “If you work as a journalist in Russia, you understand that it is a risky profession. When a miner goes down a mineshaft, he also knows that he might die. And it’s the same for us.” She said that every week she received threats on her life.No one supported her nor the newspaper as it was against Putin. She said that they might have in words but not in actions. Journalistic solidarity in Russia did not exist, according to Politkovskaya (Anna Politkovskaya Interview After Beslan 2004).

    She argues in the interview that the government has created a situation in Chechnya that is ripe for the production of terrorism. The government pushed people into corners with “completely stupid and pointless policies including – not only including – but principally those of Putin” (Anna Politkovskaya Interview After Beslan 2004). She says that that is what turned these men into beasts that would take children hostage and ultimately cause the death of 330 of those hostages.

    In the interview, she talks about how dangerous her job is. She says that her children wanted her to stop, but she refused. They said it was too risky. What she was reporting on could get her killed. She said that that is all part of the job. She drew up a will and testament just in case something did happen to her (Anna Politkovskaya Interview After Beslan 2004). Anna chose to continue fighting for the people of both Chechnya and Russia, fighting for the truth and denouncing the government’s actions and policies.

    I believe that for this reason, on October 7th, 2006, outside her apartment building’s elevator, Politkovskaya was shot four times at close range. She was constantly against the government and its policy and was a very harsh critic of Putin. She was a notorious Journalist that people read and listened to. At the time of her murder, she was completing a story on the probe into torture in Chechnya (Kaskinen). More than likely, the powers that be did not want that information to get out to the public, so they hired someone to assassinate her.

    Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist who believed that not hatred but a love of humanity would save Russia and the world as a whole. Her exposé of Putin, I believe was cause for fear in the Kremlin, and it let the Russian people and the world know just how corrupt and inhuman he is. What she stood for and what she went through was not lost to time. It still reverberates throughout the years. She was a shining beacon of truth in an otherwise dark pit of lies. Everything she wrote and all she did proves how brave she was in getting the truth out there about the corruption in the highest forms of government. She did not look at the risk as a block to the truth, only as a challenge to overcome. We could all learn from the bravery of this amazing journalist that put her own life on the line daily for the truth. The truth is worth fighting for, no matter the cost.


    Anna Politkovskaya Interview After Beslan 2004. September 2004. 11 2022. <>.

    Hearst, David. Anna Politkovskaya | Russia | The Guardian. 9 October 2006. 27 11 2022. <>.

    Kaskinen, Ronja. Remembering Anna Politkovskaya International Press Institute. 25 December 2016. 11 2022. <>.

    Politkovskaya, Anna. Putin's Russia "Путинская Россия". Harvill Press, 2004.

    The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Beslan School Attack. 16 July 2010. 11 2022. <>

    This page titled Anna Politkovskaya: Bravery, Truth, Determination - by Christopher Hughes is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Christopher Hughes at Pima Community College.