On August 30, 1958, Anna Mazepa was born in New York City, the child of Soviet-Ukrainian diplomats to the United Nations. She married Alexander Politkovski in 1978, became Anna Politikovskaya, had two children with her husband, and divorced him in 2000.
Meanwhile, she also became one of the greatest patriots in Russia's history, boldly recording and opposing the rise of the neo-Soviet, KGB-run dictatorship that we see displayed before us in all its horror today, warning us years before anyone else that it was on the way. When she first began to sound her warning some people called her paranoid, obsessed, a "russophobe." Now, she's a soothsayer and her words are the last, best hope for Russia's survival.
On October 7, 2006, at the age of 48, she was shot and killed in the entranceway of her apartment building in Moscow, an act of cowardly retaliation in response to a lifetime of valiant patriotism, writing the truth about Russia for those who would heed it, as recklessly indifferent to her own safety as any Russian solider who ever stood against any invading army. Just like so many Russian patriots before her, from Pushkin through Solzhenitsyn, she was tormented and tortured by the nation she was fighting desperately to save, and finally killed by it.
Today, on the one-year anniversary of her murder, we remember Anna. And solemnly we promise her that we will never forget. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:
That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom;
And that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
Shall not perish from the earth.
And these words are vitally important to carry into today's Russia by any means possible. For, as Alexi Pankin wrote in the Moscow Times:
On Thursday August 30th, which would have been the 49th birthday of slain Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, my wife and I attended a commemoration gathering for her on Pushkin Square. Of Moscow's more than 10 million residents, less than 300 came to pay their respects. Afterward, we looked for a cafe where we could sit quietly and reflect upon the event, but to no avail -- every cafe in the vicinity was packed with people apparently unaware of or indifferent to Politkovskaya's passing.
Pankin, a deluded neo-Soviet bagman, then attempted to rationalize this Russian behavior by arguing that poor Russians can't be expected to stand up for Anna after being so shocked by events like the Beslan tragedy. It's easy to understand his craven cowardice, of course, since when Anna pointed the finger of blame where it belonged, at the people of Russia, she was executed. But how dare any Russian claim his is a nation of brave patriots when so few are willing to stand for justice?
There are many who truly understand Anna, however, for that was the power of her courage, to blast through all that nonsense. For instance, most recently (September 18th) she was given a posthumous 2007 Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy. NED said: "Throughout her distinguished career as a Russian journalist, Anna was an outspoken advocate for human rights and an end to the devastating war in Chechnya. Up to the day of her death, Anna reported on the corruption and abuses of high-ranking officials and the need to protect those who were victims of the war. Her career was marked by a determination to report the truth regardless of the consequences, for which she paid with her life. Earlier this month she received UNESCO's World Press Freedom Prize on the 10th anniversary of the award, the first time it was awarded posthumously. Anna's award will be accepted by her colleague at Novaya Gazeta Elena Milashina, a courageous investigative journalist in her own right. Ms. Milashina has reported from Chechnya on a number of occasions, focusing primarily on investigations of the Beslan tragedy."
A square has been named after her in Italy, but the best thing we can do to honor Anna's memory is to identify her successors, like Milashina, and support them as whole-heartedly as we can. In doing so, we are really only supporting our own best hope for future happiness and security.
Today, we devote our blog for three full days entirely to remembering Anna Politkovskaya, one of the greatest Russian patriots who ever lived. She gave her life for her country. We can do no less. We will not post new content to the blog until Tuesday morning, October 9th. In so doing, we bow low before the memory of our fallen hero.
(2) Politkovskaya: A Hero for Our Time (by Jeremy Putley)
(3) Politkovskaya: Human Being (by Anne Applebaum)
(4) Politkovskaya: Woman of Action (by Svetlana Gannushkina)
(5) Politkovskaya: Colleague (by the Staff of Novaya Gazeta)
(6) Politkovskaya: Unforgettable (by Andrea Ricassi)
(7) Politkovskaya: Friend (by Jasmina Tešanović)
(8) Politkovskaya: Truth Seeker (by S.R. Brophy)
Radio Free Europe
Reporters Without Borders
Committee to Protect Journalists
The Nation I
The Nation II