Anna. We shall remember you, mourn for you and learn from you.

Vera Vasilieva, 07/10/12 


Freedom of speech  Human rights defenders  Anna Politkovskaya  Moscow city & Moscow region

On 7 October 2012, a picket was held at Moscow's Novopushkinsky Square in memory of Anna Politkovskaya. It was six years ago that the Novaya Gazeta journalist was murdered in the entrance to her apartment building on Moscow's Lesnaya Street. The identities of those who ordered the killing have not yet been established.

For some time, Moscow city council had refused to authorize the demonstration. At first, the city authorities did not allow the rally to go ahead at all on Pushkin Square on the grounds that all suitable sites would be occupied, and suggested that the organisers hold the event outside the Garden Ring road. However, officials later sanctioned a picket of 200 people.

Novopushkinsy Square was enclosed by metal barriers and a long line of people filed through the narrow entrance. According to the correspondent, the number of participants slightly exceeded that announced, despite a very strong wind that threatened to blow people over and tear objects out of demonstrators’ hands. However, law-enforcement officers clearly thought otherwise and did not intervene in proceedings. Unusually, there were few police officers present, either on foot or in police cars.

Photos by Vera Vasilieva, 

Among those who came to pay their respects to the murdered journalist were her professional colleagues, human rights defenders, civic activists and her readers. They included, among others, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muratov, one of the publication's correspondents Vera Chelishcheva, the head of the “Right to Asylum” programme of the Human Rights Institute Elena Ryabinina, the chair of the Moscow public monitoring committee Valery Borshchev, activists from the Solidarnost movement Mikhail Krieger and Nadir Fatov and the recently freed Chechen woman Zara Murtazalieva, whose criminal case many independent experts consider to have been fabricated for political reasons. 

The picketers held portraits of Anna Politkovskaya, pages from newspapers featuring her publications, flowers and black and white ribbons. “I remember Anna” and “Let us remember! Let us mourn! Let us learn!” read their placards.

They say that time heals. But participants felt their grief no less acutely than on the day when that fateful shot sounded. People expressed the view that it would only be possible to find and prosecute those who ordered the killing after there had been a change of government in Russia.

Since the event was authorized in the form of a picket that would not involve the use of sound equipment, it went ahead virtually without speeches. However, in all the speeches that were made, speakers expressed the idea that Anna had experienced other people's pain in her own heart, and had tirelessly helped those in need.

Lev Ponomarev said that Anna Politkovskaya intrinsically embodied two roles at once - the journalist and the human rights defender. "Having found this unique niche, she helped hundreds of people, and her death has deprived thousands of her help. The system hated her”, said the director of the Movement for Human Rights.

Chair of the Civic Assistance Committee Svetlana Gannushkina expressed the sentiments of the whole crowd when she said, "we are here to say that we shall remember Anna, grieve for her and learn from her”.

According to the chairman of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre Aleksandr Cherkasov, through telling the truth and fighting against injustice, despite the danger involved and other circumstances, Politkovskaya had not always received the necessary support from those around her. “Because of this, she had at times found herself alone on the battlefield”, he said.

Tatiana Lukasheva, the mother of a girl who died in the 2002 terrorist attack on the Dubrovka theatre complex, pointed out that the Novaya Gazeta commentator had been the first person to come to the aid of the hostages. She noted in particular that, thanks to Anna Politkovskaya, a large quantity of juices and soft drinks were delivered to the theatre, so that those taken hostage by the terrorists while watching the musical Nord-Ost” did not suffer from thirst.

Sergei Kovalev named Politkovskaya the most tragic figure in modern Russia. “There is no figure more tragic and no nerve is more raw”, stressed the president of the Human Rights Institute.

Anna Politkovskaya was well-known as a journalist for her fearless investigations, which often angered members of the highest Russian state authorities. In particular, she wrote several books documenting the situation in Chechnya. Anna Politkovskaya featured in the list of “enemies of the Russian people and the Russian state”, which was first made public in March 2006 by Nikolai Kuryanovich, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.