October 5, 2012
In Memoriam: Anna Politkovskaya
by Kevin Murphy
Sunday marks the six-year anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s assassination. A fierce and courageous journalist, Politkovskaya was murdered by what is believed to have been a contract killer, who stepped up behind her and shot her four times, including once in the head, as she stepped onto an elevator in the lobby of her apartment building in Moscow on October 7, 2006.
For years her journalism, which openly expressed opposition to the Chechen conflict and Vladimir Putin’s presidency, garnered praise from her colleagues and readers but also harsh criticism from members of Putin’s government. She endured incarceration, as well as numerous death threats, and survived at least one attempt on her life by poisoning.
Thousands of colleagues and admirers attended Politkovskaya’s funeral, and an international outcry arose in response to her death. Despite a damning trial brought against four men, three of whom allegedly worked for Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB), no conviction has been brought against her killer(s).
A letter Politkovskaya had written was found on her computer after her death detailing her steadfast commitment to journalism, and the truth, even in the face of such dire and, ultimately, deadly consequences. In part, it reads:
“I will not go into all the joys of the path I have chosen: the poisoning, the arrests, the menacing by mail and over the Internet, the telephoned death threats. The main thing is to get on with my job, to describe the life I see …
What am I guilty of? I have merely reported what I witnessed, nothing but the truth.”
In April of 2011, Melville House published Is Journalism Worth Dying For?, a final collection of Politkovskaya’s dispatches, including the first English translation of the work that many people believe led to her murder.
To honor the memory of Politkovskaya’s life, all this weekend we are offering her book for half off the list price. Visit the Is Journalism Worth Dying For? book page for more details.
Also, if you would like to read more about the events surrounding Politkovskaya’s life and death, as well as the sham murder trial that followed, The Guardian has a number of insightful articles well worth your reading time.
Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.