Who is Anna Politkovskaya?

“How we react to the tragedy of one small person accurately reflects our attitude towards a whole nationality.” -Anna Politkovskaya, Is Journalism Worth Dying For?

Anna Politkovskaya was a famous journalist, whose life was as interesting and fascinating as the very stories she reported on. Her journalistic career started at Moscow State University, where she graduated with a degree in journalism in 1980. After graduating, she went to work for the daily newspaper Izvestia; after her brief stint with Izvestia, she worked with small, independent papers, such as Obshchaya Gazeta and Novaya Gazeta, where she published her reports and articles about the corrupt Russian regime. During this time, she published many investigative books, all critical of the Russian regime, books such as: A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya and Putin’s Russia. These articles and books shed an admonishing light on the atrocities that the Russians were committing in Chechnya, and the horrors of Putin’s totalitarian regime. 

Anna Politkovskaya was the doyenne in journalism, due to her obdurate ethical stance: tell the truth at all costs. Anna resembled this then by the fact that she reported on the human rights abuses that Russia was committing in Chechnya and the atrocities that Putin committed, all whilst being threatened with death. Despite all this, she strived to tell the truth no matter what, which resulted in her assassination in 2006. Anna was killed for disseminating the truth, the truth about the horrors Russia was committing in and outside of its country. Her journalistic philosophy was simple: tell the truth, even if it means death. To her, truth meant more than her own life. 

Anna Politkovskaya wrote many works that had an impact on the world, and changed the world’s perspective on Russia. One article that Anna wrote was entitled “Poison in the Air,” which suggested that Russian officials mass poisoned Chechen school pupils, thus documenting one of Russia’s war crimes. In “How the Heroes of Russia Turned into the Tormentors of Chechnya,” she talks about how many Chechens were coerced into detention camps by the Russian army, where many were tortured; she herself was thrown into these detention camps, and experienced their horrors. Anna not only touched on the horrors of Chechnya, but also the horrors that Putin committed in Russia. In her controversial book, Putin’s Russia, she claimed that Putin removed all checks and balances placed in the government of Russia, in order to install an autocratic state that stripped its denizens of basic civil liberties. Anna’s articles enlightened and edified the world about what was really going on behind the scenes in Russia and Chechnya. 

Anna experienced many struggles whilst writing her articles. Because of her views, her husband left her, her son refused to talk to her, she was ostracized by her neighbors, she was captured by Russian soldiers in a Chechen detention camp, where threats were made against her, and all this culminated in her 2006 assassination. Throughout her journalistic life, she suffered many moments of pain and anguish, and she had very little triumphs, as each of her journalistic forays lead to her being threatened or ostracized or worse. However, as a journalist who strived for the truth, the people she inspired, the people who were touched by her truth telling crusade are ever grateful to her. There is no better triumph that a journalist would want, then to inspire others and to have her works disseminated throughout the world for all those to see. 

Anna Politkovskaya was a multi-faceted and intrepid journalist, whose moral compass to tell the truth in the face of danger led her to her death. It can be said that Anna is a north star to every aspiring journalist, and a role model of truth and reason in a world dominated by views and likes which alter our journalistic standards.