The final dispatch of a reporter murdered for telling the truth

This is Anna Politkovskaya's final unfinished article for her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. It was written shortly before she was murdered last Saturday. After two wars of independence, Russian-backed forces are torturing a whole generation of young Chechens, she writes, to try to restore order in the troubled north Caucasus region

Dozens of files cross my desk every day. They are copies of criminal cases against people jailed for "terrorism" or refer to people who are still being investigated. Why have I put the word "terrorism" in quotation marks here?

Because the overwhelming majority of these people have been "fitted up" as terrorists by the authorities. In 2006 the practice of "fitting up" people as terrorists has supplanted any genuine anti-terrorist struggle. And it has allowed people who are revenge-minded to have their revenge - on so-called potential terrorists.

Prosecutors and judges are not acting on behalf of the law and they are not interested in punishing the guilty. Instead, they work to political order to make the Kremlin's nice anti-terrorist score sheet look good and cases are cooked up like blinys.

This official conveyor belt that turns out "heartfelt confessions" is great at providing the right statistics about the "battle against terrorism" in the north Caucasus (where Chechnya is).

This is what a group of mothers of convicted young Chechens wrote to me: "In essence, these correctional facilities (where terrorist suspects are held) have been turned into concentration camps for Chechen convicts. They are subjected to discrimination on an ethnic basis. The majority, or almost all of them, have been convicted on trumped-up evidence.

"Held in harsh conditions, and humiliated as human beings, they develop a hatred towards everything. An entire army (of ex-convicts) will return to us with their lives in ruins and their understanding of the world around them in ruins too..."

In all honesty, I am afraid of this hatred. I am afraid because, sooner or later, it will burst into the open. And for the young men who hate the world so much, everyone will seem like an outsider.

The practice of "fitting up" terrorists raises questions about two different ideological approaches. Are we using the law to fight lawlessness? Or are we trying to match "their" lawlessness with our own?

Recently, at Russia's request, Ukraine handed over a certain Beslan Gadaev to Moscow. He is a Chechen and was arrested at the start of August in Crimea during a document check.

He was living there as a forced resettler. Here are some excerpts from the letter he sent me on 29 August: "After being extradited from Ukraine to Grozny (the Chechen capital) I was taken to a police station and asked whether I had killed members of Anzor Salikhov's family as well as family members of Anzor's friend. I swore I had killed nobody and not spilt any blood, neither Russian nor Chechen. The policemen said with certainty: "No you are a killer." I again denied it.

"They began to beat me. At first, they punched me twice in the area of my right eye. While I was coming to, they tied me up and handcuffed me to a metal bar lodged behind my knees so I couldn't move my hands, though I was in handcuffs anyway. Then they took me, or rather they took the metal bar jammed behind my legs, and suspended me between two stools at a height of about one metre. As soon as they had me suspended, they attached wires to my little fingers. They began to administer electric shocks while they beat me with rubber truncheons wherever they could.

"I don't remember how long it lasted but I started to lose consciousness due to the pain. Seeing this, they asked me whether I was ready to talk. I replied that I would talk but I didn't know what about. I spoke to spare myself from torture, even for a little while. They took me down, removed the metal bar, and flung me to the floor. They said 'talk'.

"I said I had nothing to say. They responded by hitting me with the metal bar in the area of my right eye where they had already struck me. Then they hung me up again, the same as before, and repeated the same process. I don't remember how long this lasted ... they repeatedly poured water on me.

"Around lunchtime, a policeman in civilian clothing came up to me and told me some journalists had come to see me and that I had to confess to three murders and a robbery.

"He said that if I didn't agree they would repeat everything (the torture) and would break me by sexually assaulting me in some way. I agreed to comply and gave an interview to the journalists and they (the police) forced me to testify that the injuries I had received from them had been sustained in the course of an escape attempt..."

Zaur Zakriev, a lawyer defending Beslan Gadaev, informed Memorial (a human rights organisation) that his client had suffered physical and psychological violence on the premises of the Grozny police force.

In the medical ward of prison number one in Grozny where Gadaev is laid up, charged with "banditry", a document details his many wounds. His lawyer, Zakriev, has forwarded these complaints to the prosecutor of the Chechen Republic.

The text breaks off here with the article unfinished. Politkovskaya's newspaper, 'Novaya Gazeta', has promised to investigate the issues raised in the piece

Translation by Andrew Osborn

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture