What would Anna Politkovskaya tell us today?

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The Independent Online

Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated on this day ten years ago. She was shot four times, and the fatal shot was fired at her head in a lift in her Moscow apartment building.

The echo of these shots still ring in our memory with the question: when will justice be served? Men have been sentenced to prison for her death, but who was behind the murder still remains a mystery, and there are many other questions still unanswered.

Politkovskaya often received death threats and was poisoned as a result of her work. She was threatened with rape, and experienced a mock execution after being arrested by the military in Chechnya. A decade later, her brave work needs no introduction. Indeed, in this paper and in media around the world, her legend is growing.

She could write: “what matters is the information, not what you think about it,” she said in Is Journalism Worth Dying For? Final Dispatches. And she could report; from places that few of us would dare travel to, to ask questions that few of us would dare ask.

Since her death, at least ten more members of the media have lost their lives practicing their craft in Russia. Not everyone has a story as compelling as Politkovskaya’s. But every journalist has a story to tell. They should all have the inherent right to practice their craft in safety, free from the fate that befell her.

As was often the case, Politkovskaya said it best herself. “Do you still think the world is vast? That if there is a conflagration in one place it does not have a bearing on another, and that you can sit it out in peace on your veranda admiring your absurd petunias?” 

The true reasons for Politkovskaya’s death have still not been adequately explained. Until they are, international organisations around the world, including my office, will continue reminding the authorities of their duty, in memory of Politkovskaya and the others who gave their lives in pursuit of a story.

Dunja​ Mijatović is the Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, based in Vienna.

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