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Politkovskaya as Political Football

In the meantime, the politics of Politkovskaya’s death rumbles on. As Wally Shedd reports on his blog, Accidental Russophile, Exile editor Mark Ames has weighed in on the Western media’s sudden infatuation with Politkovskaya. Always looking for a chance to twist his pen into the sides of the American media, Ames reviews American press coverage of the murder. He also rightly asks, “Where is America’s Politkovskaya?”

If you ask me, what is most significant for us in the West about Anna Politkovskaya’s death, and her courageous life (btw, a big “fuck you” to our nationalist readers who don’t agree with this), is not so much what it says about Russia — it doesn’t say much new at all, to be honest, but instead is another chapter in an increasingly depressing story that started under Yeltsin.

Rather, what is significant about her death is this: Why doesn’t America have an Anna Politkovskaya? Why don’t we have someone as courageous as she was to tell the story of how we razed Fallujah to the ground Grozny-style? How we bombed to smithereens and ethnically cleansed a city of 300,000 people in retaliation for the deaths of four American contractors? Where is the American Anna Politkovskaya who will tell us about how we directly killed roughly 200,000 Iraqis, and indirectly are responsible for about half a million Iraq deaths since our invasion? Why isn’t there a single American willing to risk almost certain death, the way Politkovskaya did, in the pursuit of truth and humanity?


On the other side of the political divide, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a rare interview to Novaya gazeta during her recent trip to Moscow. It is interesting to note that Il’ia Politkovskii, Anna Politkovskaya son was one of the interviewers. Rice was of course asked about the journalists murder:

Novaya gazeta: Miss State Secretary, this work, of course is possible to continue. But for the last six years there were three horrible loses to out newspaper. In 2000, Igor’ Dominkov was died: contract killers murdered him, and now they sit in court. He was killed for his professional activities. And a corrupt official—the vice governor of one of Russia’s regions gave the order for the murder.

[Then there was] the mysterious death three years ago of deputy editor of Novaya gazeta, Duma deputy, and head of the Commission for the Struggle Against Corruption, Iurii Shchekochikhin. This case has not been investigated. Now the murder of Ania. Is there a higher price to pay for the right to practice your professional duties?

Secretary Rice: What you talk about is a shared sorrow. I know about these tragedies. We raised the issue to the Russian government that the murders, which occurred over the last few years—about what you speak of, and even the murders of other journalists, that it is necessary to investigate them and that the people who committed these crimes must know that they will not go unanswered.

It is difficult to answer your question abstractly because I know that all of this is a personal tragedy for you, a personal loss. But if we look at history, we arrive at the conclusion that in various states people sacrifice for their principles. For very important causes.

These losses can never be in vain because in the end freedom will prevail.

What concerns journalists, especially those so-called “muckrakers”, who pursue investigations, that this is an extremely dangerous profession. Because by their very nature they inform people of the truth about what happened in reality.

And in the process they make enemies for their activities.

You see it is often said that people who can lose much if the truth come out and it will spread.

But without independent journalists who conduct such investigations, democracy cannot function.

I don’t think that this will bring you personal comfort. But I want to say to you that all of these murders have resonance all over the world, people all over the world profoundly feel and urge that an investigation will be carried out and the guilty punished.

I want to repeat. You are not alone in your struggle.


You know if Rice said such things in the American media, I might actually begin liking her. Take a look in the mirror, sister.

Correction: Il’ia Politkovskii is Anna Politkovskaya’s son not her husband. The correction has been made above. Thanks to Veronica at Neeka’s Backlog for the alerting me of the error.

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