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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Politkovskaya Gets Posthumous Hero Award

The sign held by the person in the ground reads "Putin is a Murderer" (in Finnish) reports: The Vienna based International Press Institute (IPI) posthumously awarded murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya the title World Press Freedom Hero. "Her murder is a shock and loss. IPI believes that she made a significant contribution to journalism and to the cause of human rights," IPI Director Johann Fritz said. Politkovskaya, who was shot outside her Moscow apartment on October 7, was only one of over 20 journalists killed in Russia since 2000. The investigative journalist wrote for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and was working on a story on torture in Chechnya when she was killed. Fritz said Politkovskaya's nomination for the award was also a call on the Russian authorities to "ensure that there is a thorough investigation in her murder" in a country where, the IPI said, journalists were often killed with impunity.

Politkovskaya collected kudos from various American journalists, as reported by Radio Free Europe:

"Her manner, often quiet, often shy, belied her brave and fearless work as a journalist enraged by the injustice and corruption," said Katrina van den Heuvel, the editor and publisher of the liberal U.S. magazine "The Nation." She was also an acquaintance of Politkovskaya, the 43rd journalist to be killed in Russia since 1993.

Musa Klebnikov, the widow of Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of the Russian edition of "Forbes" magazine who was gunned down in Moscow in 2004, also knew Politkovskaya. She said Politkovskaya was a woman who understood the perilous nature of her work but refused to give it up. "When I met Anna last year, she was surprised by her own longevity. She said: 'Given what I do, it is in fact a miracle that I am alive today.' She knew the risk, but didn't stop. Anna felt the need to establish a connection to those who are suffering regardless of their actions and circumstances. She wanted them to be seen and heard. This was her great humanistic impulse."

Kati Marton, a member of the board of directors for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) , a nonprofit U.S. institution monitoring acts of violence against journalists around the world, said Politkovskaya typified the extraordinary bravery of journalists who put their lives at risk on a near-daily basis: "For us at CPJ, Anna's murder was a death in the family," Marton said. "I've had the privilege of knowing a handful of journalists who were fired by Anna's kind of courage, men and women who accept that every time they leave their homes, they face the prospect of assassination. They kiss their children good-bye in the morning knowing that they may not see them again in the evening."

David Remnick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and editor of the "The New Yorker" magazine, noted that her celebrated reputation in the West was a distinct contrast from her reputation at home in Russia. "It was one of the great ironies, not unexpected under the circumstances, that she would receive all her awards that I can think of in the West, particularly in the United States," he said. "So, she had this bifurcated life of coming to the Waldorf-Astoria, whatever hotel ballroom in New York, or Paris, or London, to receive accolades for her bravery, for her prose, and her passion. And then she would return home to be vilified by her government."
Meanwhile, "Preisident" Putin was quoted as saying “As far as I know, relatives of the late Anna Politkovskaya are satisfied with the investigation.” However, he did not give further information on the investigation process and that he stressed that the Russian authorities did not make any special commitments to investigate the murder and it was investigated as any other crime "in the framework of the law." He then claimed that “definite results” had been achieved, but not apparently in finding the killer. Rather, he touted his investigators' discovery that “certain political shadowy figures” were trying to spin Politkovskaya’s killing for "certain purposes" and commented that “it’s sometimes hard for me to grasp the great, unfounded proclamations that Russian authorities participated in the murder, that special forces are trying move the inquest down a false path. I am convinced that is not the case." He then contradicted his earlier statement, claiming: "The most professional forces from Russian law enforcement structures have been called to the investigation." Then again, perhaps Putin was simply repeating his belief that all members of the Russian law enforcement "structures" are equally honest and near to perfection.

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