Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The murder of Anna Politkovskaya

This is a forward from my undergraduate thesis advisor.

Write. Respond. Let them know the world is watching.


Dear colleagues, dear students, and dear friends,

I am writing to alert you to the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, in case you have not heard. She was gunned down in the elevator of her apartment house in Moscow on Saturday evening.

As those of you who have taken my classes and read her books know, Anna was a passionate and dedicated journalist who wrote about Chechnya like no one else did. The Chechen people have lost a great friend and the world has lost a writer who was absolutely devoted to the truth and to the survival of ordinary people in utterly frightening special war zones, abandoned by everyone else. She was the only one who spoke with clarity about them. Anna wrote alarming and distressing books, and in the last years of her life nothing alarmed her as much as the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov. She was writing about torture by Kadyrov death squads, in special prisons in Tsentoroi, Kadyrov’s hometown, when she was killed. Her last article published in Novaya Gazeta a few days ago deals with the insidious effect of “Chechenization” - the strategy that has turned into the wholesale abandonment of the entire republic to rapacious and deviant criminals. Anna wrote about the murderous war and the chokehold of the Kadyrov personality cult with great force and with devastatingly precise images. Few could convey the horrifying reality of the war and of how it has changed people like she could, or more effectively destroy lies and deceptions. Ania was by far the best-informed analyst on Chechnya. She was also the most passionate. She was a frequent visitor to the United States and spoke at many conferences and workshops. I met her some years ago at her offices in Moscow and was absolutely impressed by her fearlessness and her dedication to her work. Nobody who met her remained unchanged by what she had to say, even if they disagreed or if her fierceness in condemning violence and injustice made them uncomfortable. There is absolutely nobody who can replace her, and she will be sorely missed.

Please find below addresses to which you can send condolences and other letters. I am writing to you because you are one of the relatively small number of people in the USA who have become acquainted with her work in some form. Please also share your ideas and thoughts with me, as I will be helping organize responses and memorial meetings for her over the next days and weeks. I will be writing letters to President Putin, the Russian government, and the Russian prosecutors office, and if you are interested I will share the texts of the letters with you, to co-sign if you so wish, for inspiration to write your own, or to spread as widely as possible. Please feel free to forward this message. I apologize if you received it in error.

Website of Chechnya Advocacy Network (with links to news, information about memorial activities, and addresses):

Address for Letters to the Editor at Novaya Gazeta:

Website for condolences at Novaya Gazeta, Anna's newspaper (Russian mostly, but go ahead and send texts in English):


Michaela Pohl, Associate Professor
Department of History
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
Web: http://history.vassar.edu/pohl.html


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