Sunday, October 08, 2006

"We are all involved in a great tragedy". Missing Anna Politkovskaya.

Very sad news reached us in Frankfurt on Saturday evening.

Anna Politkovskaya (Politkovskaja, in Finnish), a friend, and respected, highly devoted writer, had been cold-bloodedly shot in the center of Moscow, in an elevator at her home building.

The pictures here are taken during her visits in Finland. The photos below are the ones I took today by the Soviet Embassy, in Helsinki, Finland. There was a vigil this evening, and hundreds, maybe even thousands of people came with candles.

Whatever the message of her killers was, and to whoever it was directed, the message us, her friends and readers all over the wirld should send, is that WE ARE NOT DONE. Anna's work has been much too important to be wiped away with more and more violence. And, she would hate to see that happen.

Anna demanded peace and JUSTICE. Not only did she want the war in Chechnya to stop, but also, she wanted the crimes to be investigated and war criminals punished, for the sake of the victims and their families.

She wanted someone to take responsibility of the Beslan tragedy (2004 ->), or at least to explain in public what had actually happened. Official investigations carried out by the police, would have been a good start, she said.

And the same with the Nord-Ost theater siege in 2002 – the physically and mentally severely injured victims of which were left alone without any explanation. (Anna was supposed to come to the Helsinki Book fair back then, but she had to negotiate in the middle of the crisis. The Chechens asked her to. She was very shaken and disturbed of the outcome, that the Russian Spetsnaz forces went in with so much force, and that led up to 170 casualities.)


Anna loved her children very much, and she was very proud of them. I hope they are fine, though they must be mourning.


Thie following was written in TIME Magazine, back in 2003, when Anna was chosen as one of the ultimate Heroes of the world. (

... When those missiles hit a market in Grozny, it was only prompt coverage by journalists like Politkovskaya that forced the Russian commanders to let ambulances in and refugees out. "Our work is a lever to help people as much as we can," she believes. But it also causes trouble. In February 2000, the FSB (the former KGB) arrested Politkovskaya in the Vedeno district of Chechnya. They kept her in a pit for three days without food or water.

"It was important not to let them kill me on the first day," she says. A year later, a Russian officer whose war crimes Politkovskaya had exposed threatened to kill her. Novaya Gazeta had to hide her in Austria for a while. The officer is now awaiting trial on charges of war crimes committed in Chechnya that Politkovskaya was the first to report. "But I don't feel victorious," she says. "I only feel that we're all involved in a great tragedy."

Her editors have had to stand up to pressure from the Kremlin, which is often infuriated by her reporting. Novaya Gazeta balances on the brink of forcible closure. "Well, it goes with the job," she shrugs. Politkovskaya has long since learned to keep her anxieties in check.

As she arranges yet another trip to Chechnya, she may now be too famous to be targeted by the FSB. But she really doesn't think about such things. "If you don't have the strength to control your emotions, you're of no help to the people who are in such shock and pain. You only add to their burden," she says.


Tuija said...

Her devotion to her work can't be but admired. "CPJ had named Politkovskaya one of the world’s top press freedom figures of the past 25 years in the next edition of its magazine, due out next month."

Kristiina Koivunen said...

The pictures you have put on your blog are very nice.

I put a candle for Anna Politkovskaya in my blog (8.10.06) as I was sick and could not go the demonstration in front of the Russian embassy.