Russische Föderation: Anna Politkovskaya

People ask me: ‘Why do you write about this war?’ The reason is quite simple: we are contemporaries of this savage conflict and, in the end, we will have to answer for it.

— Anna Politkovskaya

Anna Politkovskaya (born 1958) is a reputed Russian journalist. In 1999, Anna started working for the ‘Novaya Gazeta’ newspaper as a special correspondent in the Northern Caucasus. She is the author of several books on the war in Chechnya. Anna advocates for the human rights of Chechen refugees and those who have suffered because of the war. She also investigates cases of corruption among high-ranking military in Chechnya. For her journalistic achievements combined with an active anti-war stand, she has received numerous Russian and international awards.

In 2002, at the height of the second Chechen war, Anna Politkovskaya, working as a special correspondent in the zone of conflict, set off by helicopter, together with a few Russian officers, for the military base of the Federal troops in Khankala. On board, they were transporting the body of a Russian soldier killed in a recent skirmish with Chechen fighters. Spotting his ID, Anna learned that he was a young fellow from the Chelyabinsk region, born in the same year – and even in the same month – as her daughter. She clearly realized that any of her daughter's classmates could have been lying there in his place. The young soldier's body lay in the aisle, and it seemed to her grossly inhuman that nobody noticed it, grieved, or expressed the least emotion. During the whole flight, Anna wept silently over the premature death of this young man whom she had never known. The officers, hardened by the war, only mocked her tears. They were returning from the most dangerous Vedensky region of Chechnya, and Anna knew that an assignment there was usually a means of punishing officers who were guilty of beating their soldiers or killing civilians. Not only personal tragedies and deaths have left their scars on Anna. The most horrible thing she saw in Chechnya was exhumation of the mass graves occasionally found by the local population. No criminal or forensic investigation has ever been conducted into these mass killings, so that the commonly accepted rule calls for the presence of independent observers when the graves are exhumed. Local Chechen women, hoping to find their husbands and children among the piles of bodies, have repeatedly asked Anna to come and be a witness. She has never refused them, knowing fully well that no excuse would ever be able to appease her conscience. Anna has always felt a strong personal responsibility for her country and its people.