Skip to comments.In heaven there are a thousand blank pages (Anna Politkovskaya’s loved ones remember her)
Posted on 10/07/2011 5:21:32 PM PDT by struwwelpeter
The language has become smaller by one, diminishing us. Now your words, like the feathers of dead birds, are in dictionaries. In heaven there are a thousand blank pages, pages you never finished... It is almost as if Joseph Brodsky were not eulogizing W.H. Auden, but Anya.
How many years have we been without Anna Politkovskaya... 2, 3, 4, 5? Yes, five years already. Still, strange as it sounds, in the early years it seemed easier than it is now. Back then, along with the pain, many still clenched their fists and were still courageous. But then there was the trial, and as the Politkovskaya family lawyers so vividly expressed it, the court took up the torso of the crime, but not the head - that is, whomever it was who ordered her murdered, nor the arms and legs - those who committed the crime were not in the dock, either. That was then, while now on this day, the fifth anniversary of her murder, it is simply torture to talk about the investigation. There has certainly been progress, however - one suspect is in jail, and the organizer of the murder has been established, but whoever it was who ordered her murder, and paid for it, they are still being sought. Perhaps it would be better to talk about this on another day, but not today.
Three years ago, Anna would have been 50. On that anniversary we categorically refused to discuss the investigation. The motivation for our unwillingness was quite different back then. We said: There will be other days for that, there will trials, and the tragic date October 7th. Today we are not talking about murder, but Anyas birthday, and on this date only those closest to her will talk about her - they talk as if gathered around the table, remembering their favorite stories, tall tales, and funny episodes. They talk about a living Anya who simple turned invisible. But she is nearby. (From Novaya Gazeta, #63, August 28th, 2008, Anya is nearby. A family history in the stories of her mother, daughter, and sister.)
Today is that tragic date: October 7th. It has been FIVE years since the day of her death, and today we will only talk to you about those close to her, and with them we will only talk about her.
Anna Politkovskaya's son, Ilya Politkovsky:
Ilya, I know your mothers colleagues from around the world have been tormenting you, and it is probably difficult for you even to remember how many times you have been asked to give interviews and commentary.
Its impossible to estimate or even imagine... Sometimes I spend the whole day giving interviews, non-stop. The demand increases especially around this date. I dont hide, I answer every question, and I have to, because otherwise discussion of the crime would have never gone anywhere, so for me it is an integral part of life.
Have you dreamed of your mother during these five years?
I often dream about Mom, but I cant talk about it, and not because I dont want to, its just because my brain is so arranged that I dont remember my dreams. Sorry...
What do you remember most about her?
She said that because of the horrors shed seen during her reporting, her outlook on life had changed dramatically. Im also reexamining some of my values and worldviews. Ive re-read a lot of what shed written, and now I agree that she did everything correctly, as a professional, and as a human being, but this wasnt supposed to be my mom...
Mother should not have taken such risks?
As a son I could never agree that my mother should be in such a place, but lets talk about something easier... You know, I often still think about what a happy and warm a person my mom was, and how gently she would poke fun at my much too active interest in the opposite sex.
I remember that, too. One day she was telling me a very funny story about your active interest and victims when the phone rang. Do you remember how we had to share a phone? Our desks were right up against each other, and that time I picked up the phone and your mother hears me say, Politkovskaya? Yes, hold on. What? Whats my name? And we both just started laughing.
Yes, and she scolded me in much a funny way... How are you not ashamed? Pace yourself! At the same time I felt that she was absolutely certain that I would get through this stage, that it all just youthful energy. I think right now my mother is happy for me. Ive found my love, and in my heart Im sure that she would have liked this girl.
Anna Politkovskayas mother, Raisa Alexandrovna Mazepa:
She refuses to see reporters. She does not wish to talk to anyone about it. She is going through a rough time.
There was one exception - Raisa Alexandrovna agreed to meet with me back when I was preparing an article on Anyas 50th jubilee. We drank 12 Herbs Tea and talked, perhaps, for around five hours straight. Certainly not everything made it into print. Today Raisa Alexandrovna had Ilya tell me that she has already said everything she was able back to back then and could add nothing, and that I could do whatever I wished with the recording of our conversation. She would never talk to another journalist.
So here once again I hear her voice on my Dictaphone, surprisingly young and ringing, and I remembered how she had less gray in her hair than Anya. When I said this out loud, in reply she immediately begins talking about her husband: He did not have a single gray hair when he was buried. He never had to go to the dentist until shortly before he died. When our girls were grown up, they always joked that they thought all men were as ideal as Dad. He didnt drink or smoke. He put his heart and soul into raising the children, and later the grandchildren.
They lived together for 54 years. They met while attending night school, after the war, with those horrors behind them both. She was from Kerch, and was to be sent to Germany as forced labor, and only by some miracle escaped. He was drafted at 17, and served 8 years because there is no one to replace him. He attended the Moscow institute in his naval uniform, because he had no other clothes. They got married when they were in their third year, and the place they rented in Moscow was not an apartment or even a room, but a corner. It was not until 1962, after they had been working in America, that they were able to buy an apartment on the Frunze embankment, in one of the first Foreign Ministry cooperatives.
There were photos of Anya and her father, Stepan Mazepa, hanging near us, and now I know that every night Raisa Alexandrovna says to them: Good night, guys. Only then does she go to sleep. On waking up, she greets them: Good morning, guys!
Her maiden name is Novikova.
In school they called me Novikov-Priboy, she says, and I hear my laughter on the tape.
Why was that? That is certaining different.
Well, there was this writer, and they just liked to call me that, but Anya also had a funny story concerning her last name. On this one certain ship there were some other travelers who were saying that all misfortunes are due to those who have surnames like Politkovskaya... well, sort of hinting at (Jewish) ethnicity. And Anyuta up and tells them: Did you happen to know that thats my husbands name, while my maiden name is Mazepa? They said: Well, of course, nowadays everyone wants to be (the famous Ukrainian leader) Mazepa. They wouldnt believe her. When my husband was still alive, his nephew from Kharkov came and brought him this book that was printed in the Ukrainian language. His nephew discovered that Stepan was from the very same branch as the Getman. He was a direct descendent. Well, my husband laughs at that and says, Im reading this and suddenly I remember Ukrainian. His school in Chernigov was taught in Ukrainian, but after the war he completed his education in Russian, together with me at night school...
And then, she talks once again about Anya.
She was always very brave. You know, I usually picked up the kids after school. Well, there are many who pick up their children - grandmas, grandpas, moms, and even occasionally a dad. Everyone there can see that in the locker room there are some high school students playing cards. Its not good, but all the adults are ignoring it while waiting for their kids. And suddenly Anya comes from out of nowhere, she got out early, apparently, and decided to relieve me, and I see shes coming, but I dont even catch her eye because right away she sees these gamblers and, without thinking twice, grabs one of them by the collar and says: What's going on here? You're coming with me.
Everyone was amazed. No one had done anything, the men or the women. Teens, you know, can get aggressive. You never know... Thats exactly how Anya was. She could never be any other way.
And there was the time when there was a bodyguard following her everywhere.
I also remember that. He stood just outside the editors office, looking bored.
The same at home. I tell her: Its not right that hes sitting outside the door, lets invite him to the table. She says: Mom, let him be bored! I cant have this, because a journalist cant have a tail. After a pause, Raisa Alexandrovna adds: Lord! How could they raise their hand against a woman?
I am thinking, Raisa Alexandrovna, what are you talking about? They have no such notions. What is the difference to them if it is a man, or a woman, if they themselves are asexual beings consisting of nothing but fear? They are afraid, and so they do their killing on the sly, from behind a wall, or in an elevator. She could do things in the light, or in court, but they had to hide and sneak.
What follows is a direct quote from what has already been published, but it is important, and really nothing is more important:
For so long we tried talking her out of going to Chechnya, but she replied And who should go? If not me, then who? We were afraid for her, and yet we were proud. Stepan collected absolutely everything she published; he clipped them out and wrote on them the day and year.
He would have had a lot of clipping to do!
Yes, but he clipped out everything. Yuri, my son-in-law, my older daughter Lenas husband, he said that Stepan died going to see the woman he loved. I felt sick and it turned out that I had to go to the hospital right away, and Stepan asked his daughter: Anya, maybe she doesnt have to go? Is it that serious? And Anya said yes, its serious, it cant wait.
He came to visit me in the hospital. He brought homemade juice and talked with the doctor. On the day of my operation, he called me up and said: you know what, Im coming over. I tried to talk him out of it, but he called a second time to find out if I needed anything Id forgotten. But what can your need right before surgery, especially in a hospital where they have everything? He said well, Im on my way. Thats how he said it... the last thing he said.
I waited for him. Visiting hours were already over, but theres no sign of him. Stepan had already gotten off the subway and started asking this woman where the trolleybus stops, or where was the bus that goes to the hospital. She started to show him, but he turns ashen before her eyes. Early the next morning, they hadnt even taken temperatures yet, and here they come and give me a shot, and right after that in walks Lena with Anya, and when I saw Lena, who lives in London, here I already knew everything: Girls, grandpas dead?
You were supposed to be operated on?
Yes, and here in walks the doctor, who says the operations ready, no time for funerals... Two weeks later, in the morning, before theyd taken temperatures, in they come with a shot again, and just like before the door opens, but with Lena, instead of Anya, there was Yuri, Lenas husband, and my first words to them were: They killed Anya?
Dad would never have survived Anyutka's death, if he couldnt handle me being ill.
Anna Politkovskayas daughter, Vera Politkovskaya:
We talked together so much that now its enough just to look at Facebook to see shes alright. Here she reports that she even surprises herself sometimes: Had I known during my long-ago childhood and adolescence that years later there would be hanging in my kitchen a cheesecloth dripping with milk curds Id made myself... this is somehow so unreal.
There is a small Anna Politkovskaya growing up with Vera. Anna Politkovskaya never saw her granddaughter - she was not allowed to live that long - but she knew about her, and was waiting for her.
Somehow, at her summer cottage, in only two months Mom was able to bring in a whole garden full of onions, fennel, and carrots - all organic foods, no chemicals, and her grandchild was only supposed to eat such things, Vera told me. I could never imagine Mother working the furrows.
Is not making your own curds also working the furrows? It all continues...
Events dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Anna Politkovskayas death:
The premiere of Elsa K. The play is based on materials from the case of murdered Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva, a case that was also investigated by Anna Politkovskaya. The cast consists of three voices. The male voiceover reads the documented facts, while the two womens voices are Elsa and Anna. The author is Andrea Riskassi, and the play premieres at 9 pm, October 6-8 at the Teatro del Borgo, Milan.
On October 7th the Norwegian Helsinki Group is holding a workshop, titled: Five years after the death of Anna Politkovskaya. The legacy of Anna.
October 7-11, Days of Anna Politkovskaya. There will be the premiere of a play based on her book Russian Diary and a screening of the film Letter to Anna. Discussion is to be held within the framework of the Forum 2000 international conference, organized by Vlacav Havel.
October 13. The For freedom and the future of the media award by the Leipzig endowment for the media. Each year the foundation awards journalists demonstrating outstanding work and having made a special contribution to the preservation of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. In 2005, the prize was awarded to Anna Politkovskaya. This year, in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, a prize in a separate category will be awarded in her name.
Amnesty International will hold a memorial event dedicated to Anna Politkovskaya in the main square on October 7th. Every half-hour, passages from Anna's books will be read in Russian and German.
i read for at least 5 minutes, and thought that someone’s mother died.
This makes it sound like her murder was Putin's birthday present.
"Alexander Litvinenko, who died horribly in a London hospital on Thursday, is only the latest critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet a brutal death. On Oct. 7, another critic, the journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in the lobby of her Moscow apartment building. Two years earlier, in July 2004, the U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov was murdered as he emerged from the offices of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. These killings and many others are linked to the deepest mystery of the Russian state. The mystery is the rise of Vladimir Putin..." (snip)
Pity her children, who are left motherless.
Pity those who lost their friend.
Pity those whom she cannot help.
Pity her loved ones, and those who loved her.
Pity Novaya Gazeta, which lost an honest and courageous comrade.
Pity the now defenseless truth.
I am very sorry about Anya Politkovskaya.
Why did they kill her? Why did they kill Yuri Schekochihin? Why did they kill Igor Domnikov?
Those who ordered the deaths of these journalists, of what were they afraid?
They were not afraid of being unmasked.
They do not react to facts and proofs.
They ignore opinions and arguments.
They despise dissenters.
They spit on public opinion.
Why did they kill Anna Politkovskaya five years ago in the stairwell of her home on Lesnaya Street?
Because they heard her words.
By her own efforts she defied the omnipotence of the existing government.
Anya was a devote person. But ordinary. A woman. She grew within herself, and she did not have an easy time getting along with herself. And it was hard to get along with her. But how she did live - putting herself inside others, helping others, saving others. But this annoyed some people. She was a warrior on the front, a front that she herself defined.
And they killed her on this front.
Five years have passed. Through the efforts of investigators, lawyers, and the editors of Novaya Gazeta, Anna Politkovskayas murder case is moving ahead, though with difficulty. Those suspected of organizing and committing the crime are under investigation. Investigators for now do not know who gave the orders, but we are certain that sooner or later everyone will get what is their due. It is not vengeance that we wish, but the execution of a duty.
Debts must be paid. To everyone.
In Novaya Gazeta href=http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2011/112/00.html
Anna Politkovskaya. Like
An account dedicated to our colleague is on Facebook.
We created a page dedicated to Anna Politkovskaya on the Facebook social network. Here we are posting her photos, showing her office, and introducing her publications and family, as well as giving people a chance to read her books, listen to her favorite music, and chat - about her.
Together with you, our readers, we would like to fill these pages, and so we have opened this opportunity to everyone. Any of you can add photos and videos, leave a comment, or suggest to the editors an event in her memory.
Share Anna with us. She would have loved it!
Come on over: http://www.facebook.com/anna.politkovskaya.novayagazeta
Anna Politkovskaya Square
On October 7th, the fifth anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil will host the opening of a square bearing her name.
Anna Politkovskaya Square is located near the cathedral of St. Peter.
Attending the opening ceremony will be the Mayor of Montreuil, Dominique Voine, as well as representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights League, the Women's Home of Montreuil, and Galina Ackerman, historian and translator of Anna Politkovskayas works. (no link)
Oh, cr*p. Bad enough I have to share a birthday with Desmond Tutu, but Putin too?? 'Course, also sharing with Oliver North takes some of the sting out of it.
Thank you for posting this as I didn’t hear or see mention of this anywhere else. Sometimes I think this nation is so satiated with fast food, fast cars, fast everything that we really are ripe for the picking.
We’ve lost all sense of global perspective as well as common sense and basic morals. Those idiots sitting on the pavement in Wall Street should be force fed her life story and then sent to do some farming - maybe getting real American soil under their nails will have a cleansing effect.
Thanks, after taking a course in Russian lit 5 decades ago in highschool I continued reading it and got a sense of the culture, the depth of it and the damage done by communism. I recall reading on FR in horror about her murder. Putin is the grand ruse.
Monument to the victims of the gas
The Moscow city government has erected a monument near the same building on Dubrovka where one year ago terrorists seized hostages. Initially they wanted to put up some sort of theatrical monument, with seagulls, but relatives of the victims grew indignant and said that in this case the monument would not be in memory of the terror victims, but to the musical.
The city thought it over and decided that cranes (the monument allegorically depicts cranes) are not the same as seagulls. A seagull would have been a theatrical character, whereas a crane is more of a war symbol, because of the song by Mark Bernes: At times I think soldiers, who never returned from bloody battlefields, do not lay under our native land, but have changed into white cranes. Such associations around.
On the monument it states that it is dedicated to victims of terrorism. That is, not to those specific individuals who died a year ago at Dubrovka, but to victims in general. And not to those victims who were killed specifically by terrorists, but to victims of terrorism in general.
This is war. War is when victims have no names, and are counted in the tens and hundreds and thousands. The relatives of these victims have been asking for a plaque for a long time, and a plaque was eventually installed, but not on the monument, but on a corner wall of the theater. A couple of years from now they will tear town the theater for its obvious inconsistency with our city, which is so safe from fire, and then what will happen to the plaque?
When the relatives asked for a plaque, that meant that people still hoped that we were at peace, and not at war, and that, should we perish, we could still be called by name and not counted in the hundreds. But no, these are soldiers, who never returned from bloody battlefields.
Had it been up to me, I would have made a monument of their portraits. With names. A hundred people - men, women, and children. When they negotiate with terrorists, they try to call the hostages by their names. It is thought that in so doing that terrorists will start treating them not as instruments in a politico-economic struggle, but as people. Men, women and children. With names.
When the president gave the order to storm the theater (it was the president who gave this order, yes?), what did he imagine - the number five hundred, or faces? Men, women and children. With names. If he imagined faces, and ordered the assault, then why do we choose such a cruel man for the presidency? I understand that one cannot negotiate with terrorists. I understand that it is a matter of national security. But I could not order an assault if I am imagining faces. Men, women and children.
But if the president imagined the number five hundred, then let him see faces instead. After all, no one blames the president for the deaths of these people. But I would love it if he did blame himself, since good people have a sense of guilt. I do not know if I am a good person, but I do feel a sense of guilt as far as these lost people go. And you, dear reader: if you do not feel guilt, then why are you reading this column?
And let the mayor will see these faces. After all, no one blames the mayor for the deaths of these people. But the mayor, if he is a good man, he certainly knows that he made a couple of mistakes during those hectic three days in the emergency headquarters. No one, except the mayor, will ever know about these mistakes, and only for him alone are these faces. Men, women and children.
And even let the director of the FSB see the faces of these people. Let him dream about them for the rest of his life. Let them be the first to meet him when he goes to that other world, those men, women and children. Maybe over there they will forgive him. Most likely, they will forgive him. He will tell them that their deaths were a national security issue, and they will forgive him.
And one more thing: during those three days at Dubrovka, if I remember correctly, five people died at the hands of terrorists. Strictly speaking, if, on the memorial that was opened today, it is written that it is dedicated to victims of terrorism, it refers to five people.
All the rest - men, women and children, with names - did not die at the hands of the terrorists, but from the gas.
Well, that is what they should put on the monument: to the victims of the gas.
Politkovskaya went to the war and never came back
The most surprising thing is that a film about Politkovskaya - a journalist and human rights activist who covered the Chechen conflicts most acute problems, and who in turn was shot to death in the elevator of her apartment building - is even available for rent in Russia. The decision to show such a film, and at a time when society has suddenly awakened from two decades of slumber, might seem imprudent. Especially since Goldovskayas film is not about politics, but about a person for whom conscience and conviction were, in the most literal sense, more important than her own life.
I have no fear, says Anna at the beginning of the film. She is young, dark haired, and not at all like the image familiar to most viewers. She adds: Weve gotten used to this fear.
These words were spoken long before Politkovskayas first trip to Chechnya, during the time when her husband, journalist Alexander Politkovsky, was working at Vzglyad and the programs critical reporting had led to threats against the shows authors and their families. Years later, Anna's investigations of crimes in the Caucasus made the shows trip to the center of Chernobyl look like a childhood summer walk. The whole world religiously believes that this woman really had no fear. Even her arch-enemies, among whom number high-ranking law enforcement officers and the leaders of the patriotic parties, cannot deny that this journalist had uncompromising directness, desperate courage, and unwavering perseverance.
Marina Goldovskayas film breaks the strongly-established image of Anna Politkovskaya: the Iron Lady of journalism who fanatically scoured Chechnyas bloodiest back alleys and with the speed of the printing press stamped out one accusatory article after another. Goldovskaya is not just an experienced documentary filmmaker, but also one of Anna Politkovskayas closest friends and shows the journalist as only a few knew her - a sensitive and romantic woman, a loving mother, and a witty and thoughtful hostess. The most important part of the film is not memories of friends and colleagues, but interviews with the heroine of the film in her cozy kitchen, out in the yard, and in a New York hotel room. Politkovskaya prepares dinner for her family, treats her guests to tea, walks the dog, and, in between, talks about how to force generals to respect themselves, how to keep from being afraid during shelling, and how not to turn away from scenes that that make even seasoned soldiers tremble.
Listening to Politkovskaya as she happily talks about her children or her love life, it is completely impossible to believe that this frail woman could openly fight the leaders of this world, sitting for days in a pit without food and water, continuing her work after an assassination attempt that almost destroyed her liver, kidneys, and endocrine system.
That is why the most shocking facet of this film is an understanding that Anna Politkovskaya, after all, did have fear, just like any other person. But she knew, unlike others, how to conquer this fear, driven as she was by a sense of duty and thirst for justice.
Once again I have to go. Once again to Chechnya... I'm so tired of this... There are so many horrors there, says Politkovskaya, and the viewer knows in advance that she would go there, and go there again and again, because she has long been the last hope for the mothers, the only defender of the war victims. She was a person to whom they could go and tell things that even priests refuse to hear. A perfect epigraph for this film would have been a preface from Akhmatovas Requiem And could you describe it? And I said, I can.
Marina Goldovskaya began filming the movie in the early 1990s. The film was conceived as a look at the development of post-perestroika Russia through the prism of the family life of popular journalist Alexander Politkovsky, but it soon evolved into the life story of his wife, Anna, who rapidly transformed into one of the most powerful figures in the field of world journalism and human rights advocacy. The film was a kind of diary of Anna Politkovskaya - the viewer can now hear her own comments at the most critical moments - from her first missions to Chechnya, to the demands for justice for the Nord-Ost victims.
When asked how she sees her audience today, Marina Goldovskaya replied: I can clearly see younger viewers, mostly just young people. Yes, look, my generation, those who survived the euphoria of those times, and the disappointment. For us it is a nostalgic picture, while for young people it is something to make them think.
December 19th, 2011