A Bouquet for Anna

posted 13 Oct 2014, 06:28 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Oct 2014, 06:38 ]
7 October 2014

By Vera Vasilieva

Source: HRO.org
On 7th October 2014 the international human rights organisation Amnesty International held events in Moscow to remember Anna Politkovskaya. The day marked eight years since her assassination.

Origami flowers fashioned from pages of Russian and European print and Internet media were laid at the memorial plaque. The plaque was installed a year ago on the building of the Novaya gazeta offices on Potapovsky Pereukok, where the journalist had worked.

Those who brought flowers to mark her memory included the radio stations Svoboda and Echo of Moscow, the TV channels Dozhd, RTVi, the online portals Grani.ru, Caucasian Knot, Ezhednevny zhurnal, as well as media outlets from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, France and other countries. Amongst others were also flowers from the internet portal HRO.org.

Maria Sereda, the coordinator from Amnesty International, reported that in total around forty publications took part in the event.

According to Sereda, the events were not only a call to remember Anna Politkovskaya, and express their respect and love, but also a call for journalists to show their solidarity, something which at the moment is lacking.

“We wanted it to be an informal event, for people to participate as individuals, so that editors, journalists and bloggers could then upload on their own sites photographs of these flowers, having demonstrated support for our cause,” explained Maria Sereda.

In his speech, Sergei Nikitin, the Head of the Moscow office of Amnesty International, referred to Anna Politkovskaya as a “symbol of journalism, of freedom of speech.” According to Nikitin, millions of people “know this name, people understand and appreciate, all that Anna did for Russian journalism.

Sergei Nikitin also remarked that the Novaya gazeta journalist “spoke the truth in the face of those in power.” He admitted that Anna Politkovskaya had at times criticised the organisation. But it was “precisely this sincerity, this ability to look you in the eye and say what she thought, her irreconcilability with injustice, that drew so many to her.”

Sergei Nikitin expressed his dissatisfaction with how Anna Politkovskaya’s murder case has been carried out.

“Amnesty International believes that the legal process has left many questions unanswered. We believe that justice will only have been done when the names of those who ordered the assassination of Anna Politvoskaya are established and when they have been brought before the courts,” he stated.

“We remember Anna. Her memory is in our hearts and today’s flowers affirm that,” Nikitin added.

Similar thoughts were also expressed by Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya gazeta. He noted that those behind the assassination have in part achieved their aims.

The official investigation into Anna Politkovskaya’s killing remains open. In relation to the nearly 3,000 abductions recounted in her 500 articles and stories, there have only been three sentences passed, and a few dozen rulings by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, said Aleksander Cherkasov, a member of the board of Memorial Human Rights Society.

“Anna Politkovskaya was killed, her friends and colleagues Stanislav Markelov and Natalya Estemirova were killed. Many activists in the North Caucasus have been killed,” the human rights defender reminded everyone.

The name of the man who, according to Memorial Human Rights Centre, had a role in at least six cases of forced disappearance in the North Caucasus during the military conflicts that took place over ten years ago, has this year become common knowledge. That name is Igor Strelkov, the former Minister of Defence for the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR).

“These acts are still happening, no longer in the North Caucasus, but now in eastern Ukraine. Those who fought in Chechnya, are now fighting there,” concluded Aleksander Cherkasov.

There is still another sense in which the Anna Politkovskaya case remains open. Her colleagues are carrying on her mission, believing journalism provides the possibility to save lives, he emphasised.

Commemorative events for Anna Politkovskaya, organised by Amnesty International took place on 7th October not only in Russia, but also in Belgium, Finland, Poland and Ukraine. These events are part of a wider campaign by Amnesty International: the International Week of Solidarity with Russian Civil Society, called "Speak out!" The aim of this campaign is to demand the authorities release prisoners of conscience and to urge them to respect freedom of speech, assembly and association in Russia.

Sergei Nikitin                                                        Aleksandr Cherkasov

Photos by Vera Vasilieva, HRO.org 

Translated by Holly Jones