Anna Politkovskaya, R.I.P.
Anna Politkovskaya was buried yesterday; thousands attended her funeral service at Troyekurov cemetery in Moscow, a cemetery described by Viktor Erofeyev in the International Herald Tribune as “a sort of branch of the famous Novodevichy cemetery where the big bosses lie. This has its historic paradox, a mixing of the styles of different eras. Stalin, after eliminating yet another of his comrades, liked to give them magnificent funerals.”
No one would confuse Stalin with President Vladimir Putin, whose first public remarks about the murder of Politkovskaya were in a phone call to President George W. Bush, in which he pledged that Russian law enforcement agencies would “take all necessary efforts to carry out an objective investigation of the tragic death of Anna Politkovskaya.”
One might instead confuse Putin with Captain Renault, the character in Casablanca played by Claude Rains, who rounded up the usual suspects. For all those “necessary efforts” were, in fact, unnecessary for Putin to exonerate the person Politkovskaya was writing about at the time of her death: “Putin told Suddeutsche Zeitung that he ruled out the possibility that government officials, including Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, could have been behind the murder,” reported the Moscow Times.
Most likely we will never know who was responsible for the murder of Politkovskaya. What we will also never know is the story that Politkovskaya was working on last week, and the story she would have written next week, and every story every week thereafter. As Thomas de Waal wrote in the Guardian:
The murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya leaves a terrible silence in Russia and an information void about a dark realm that we need to know more about. No one else reported as she did on the Russian north Caucasus and the abuse of human rights there. Her reports made for difficult reading—and Politkovskaya only got where she did by being one of life’s difficult people.
Read Politkovskaya’s essay “Russia’s Secret Heroes.” Especially, read this: “A country … where real heroes don’t receive the Hero title, is hopeless. It will lose all wars. Because it never encourages the right people.”