Slain Russian Journalist Kept Eye on Chechnya ; Anna Politkovskaya, Who Was Found Murdered on Saturday, Often Found Herself at Odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin

By Fred Weir Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 10, 2006 | Go to article overview

Slain Russian Journalist Kept Eye on Chechnya ; Anna Politkovskaya, Who Was Found Murdered on Saturday, Often Found Herself at Odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin


Fred Weir Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Russia's most outspoken opposition journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered Saturday, alarming not only her colleagues in the media but also the country's dwindling human rights community.

"No one has any idea who exactly killed her, or why. But I feel all that's going on [in Russia] these days is fascism," says Alla Gerber, head of the independent Holocaust Foundation.

Ms. Politkovskaya, a mother of two, was the 13th Russian journalist to be targeted in a contract-style murder since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York.

A fearless liberal of seemingly boundless energies, during the 2002 Moscow theater siege she went in and spoke to the hostage takers. But she was often at odds with a Russia that has been increasingly authoritarian and xenophobic under Mr. Putin.

"She was the most critical journalist remaining in Russia, never afraid to write what she thought," says Sergei Strokan, an editor at the liberal daily newspaper Kommersant and longtime colleague of Politkovskaya. "There seems no way to explain her killing, except that it somehow relates to her work as a critical, investigative journalist. But why should it happen now?"

As a special correspondent of the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, partly owned by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Politkovskaya was one of a handful of journalists to cover both sides of the second Chechen war, which broke out in late 1999. …

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