by Andrea Riscassi
Piero Gobetti , a young 20-year-old liberal and anti-fascist Italian man, is buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. He was killed by the violent actions of the "black squadron," which spread all over Italy in the first two decades of the 20th century. Gobetti comes to my mind in these days while we are commemorating Anna Politkovskaja, one year after her murder.
What do Piero Gobetti and Anna Politkovskaja have in common? I do not know whether the Russian journalist, who was shot one year ago, was liberal. It might be. Her anger against the communism, against the Soviet Union, against the quietness of fellow-citizens and her incessant appeal to individual responsibility are typical of a liberal facing a dictator.
Anna Politkovskaja, as well as Piero Gobetti, fought against a regime. They both did it in a direct and shameless way, without any simulation. He denounced Mussolini, as he meant to be the conscience of a nation; she didn’t like the way Putin addressed himself to the “low instincts of the crowd.” “I do not love Putin because of what he stands for,” Anna wrote before being killed with 4 gun shots in her apartment's elevator.
As the anniversary of the killing, and national elections, approached, the Russian authorities did their best to send to prison a mixed group of Chechen and Secret Service officials. Some of them have been released already. Others might be soon.
Politkovskaja talked about “selective justice." In fact, it is useless to expect anything else from those "independent" inquiries claimed by the OSCE and the Russia of Vladimir Putin. Someone at the Kremlin should be made to explain the reason why Anna Politkovskaja was killed. They should also explain why Aleksandr Litvinenko was poisoned in London, why Michail Khodorkovsky still serves time, why journalists like Larisa Arap end up in mental hospital for denouncing the inhumanity of the patients’ treatment inside the hospital. The should tell the world why Ramzan Kadyrov is the ruler of Chechnja. But this won't happen.
Anna Politkoskaja has never spared anybody: she wrote everything she could see get into print. She put killers’ names forward, no matter that they were wearing the Russian Army uniform, the Chechen death-squadron uniform or the Islamic terrorists’ garb. She has never justified the Chechen, bur she tried to warn the Russian society against the danger of criminalizing a whole people: by doing it, thousands of young boys could be transormed into potential kamikazes.
In Chechnja she tells how to raise a potential human bomb: “He studied Islam at school only for 7 years. However, he received another kind of education, by constantly going to funerals. His neighbours have been killed one after the other. His older brothers were killed during zaciski, one in the summer 2001 and the other in November 2002. Two days after his second brother’s arrest, an unidentified fellow abandoned his body in the cemetery. What about the wahabi? They left Chechnja quite a long time ago: in no way they can be considered responsible of anything. The generation to which Islam belongs is our own responsibility."
There are many articles and books written by Anna Politkovskaja which make your flesh creep or make you cry, even after many readings. Cowards with gun did hush her up. She will always be 48, as she used to saying about all the innocent victims she wrote about. Anna can not write any longer, but all her articles are there to denounce a country which is sinking into the danger.
Italy is one of the most faithful ally of the Russia of Putin. If the Italian politicians and public entrepreneurs read the books by Politkovskaya before doing business with such a criminal regime, then they would probably become aware of what is going on in that huge country. They should read the same books also those people, who decided to set the Olympic games in Sochi, a famous Russian seaside town. Had they, a different result would have obtained. Instead, the next Olympic games will be welcomed by an evil regime.
Anna loved Russia, like we do, many of us who remember her. The Russia of Tolstory and Sakharov and not the one of Putin and Kadyrov.
Today we are meant to remember Anna Politkovskaja and all the journalists who have met her fate because they did their job: They inform all the people, who want to know. We are really grateful to all those, who in the last few months have signed appeals and organized happenings to say: we do not forget!
Andrea Riscassi is a journalist for RAI Italian public television and the author of a book about the orange revolution in Ukraine.