It’s nice to see this piece in The Independent
today from Gordon Brown remembering Anna Politkovskaya. I’m trying to figure out the timing of this move, given that it is not the anniversary of Anna’s death, and given also the author of the piece: the former UK Prime Minister. It comes just as Russia turns its nose up at current UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s eager (many say over-eager) cries for a no-fly zone over Libya, and as US Vice President Joe Biden leaves Russia, following a rough dismissal of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with a veiled dig at his tandem structure of rule with President Dmitry Medvedev. Putin had suggested that Biden would have the clout needed in the White House to push through a no-visa package. Biden’s curt response
, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a real difference between being president and vice president,
‘ surely counts as Biden’s exercising his freedom to feign unknowing in order to get in a palpable hit. In other words, ‘Maybe in Russia the Prime Minister can do what he likes, but in the US we have certain rules.
Anyhow, I digress. Here’s an excerpt from Brown’s attentive piece, in which he draws attention to some of Politkovskaya’s more terrifying brushes with aggression and urges us not to forget that she was essentially fighting for the freedom of information.
Anna Politkovskaya’s death in the first decade of the 21st century is a story that could have been foretold, but a tragedy that should be unthinkable in a free world.
Only a few months before her death, Anna told a conference: “People sometimes pay with their lives for saying aloud what they think.” She knew that she might pay the ultimate price for her journalistic integrity and refusal to stop asking the questions that matter. Right up until her final moments, Anna was trying to give a voice to those brutalised in an endless war and ignored by the wider world; on the day of her murder, Novaya Gazeta’s Chief Editor, Dmitry Muratov, reports that she had planned to file a lengthy story on torture practices believed to be used by Chechen security detachments known as the Kadyrovites.
That fearlessness must never be forgotten, and there must be an international commission to investigate both Anna’s death and the human rights abuses she uncovered. Many people show incredible bravery when they find themselves in grave danger; Anna’s courage lay in constantly seeking danger out in order to speak the truth. The best memorial to her would be to continue to speak it.