David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker and a frequent journalist and author on Russia, has published a new piece about the murder of journalist Natalia Estemirova. At the end of the article, Remnick posted an audio recording of his on-stage interview with her at the Politkovskaya memorial service held by PEN.
A couple of years ago, at a memorial service for the great Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya put together by PEN, I had the honor of interviewing onstage one of Politkovskaya’s friends, the human-rights activist Natalia Estemirova. Politkovskaya, who was murdered at her home in Moscow in 2006 (as Michael Specter and Keith Gessen have written in The New Yorker), did her best and bravest work in Chechnya for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, one of the few remaining outlets with the audacity to continue publishing the truth about Russia in the Age of Putin. In Chechnya, one of her closest friends and sources of information was Natalia.
Natalia was one of those remarkable people whom reporters depend on in every ominous corner of the world: the human-rights activists who know so much, and who give completely of themselves, with little thought to their security. They are the ones who reap no glory or profit; they are the ones for whom the violence and corruption is not a “story” but the center of their lives. Natalia did her work for Memorial, a human-rights group that began during the Gorbachev years. It started out intending to unearth the buried facts of the Stalin era. Now it concentrates largely on the present tense.