Monday, October 09, 2006

Anna Politkovskaya

Journalism, at its best, goes beyond the bald recitation of facts. Sometimes it fails, and sometimes it succeeds, but it always carries the responsibility of giving a voice to the voiceless. It gives us facts we do not know while giving us a perspective that we can’t find anywhere else.

Such a journalist was Anna Politkovskaya.

The Chechen struggle for independence from Russia has been undermined and overshadowed by the violent acts of a handful of extremists. Everyone knows of the downing of the Russian jetliners and the horrific siege at Beslan.

Not everyone is as familiar with Chechen separatists being picked up by Russian military or police and being found dead days later, or the routine beatings doled out by Russian authorities as they struggle to hang onto the last remnants of their former empire. Nor are they familiar with the stories of Chechens crowded into refugee camps, nor had they heard the tales told by injured Russian soldiers fighting an insurrection for reasons that no one could explain in terms that made any sense.

Those were the stories that Anna Politkovskaya told. And perhaps they were the stories that got her killed. She was murdered in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building yesterday.

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