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Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya ( 1958 - 2006 )  Category ( Journalists ) [suggest a correction]

Anna Stepanovna PolitkovskayaAnna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist and human rights activist who was opposed to the rule of Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian involvement in Chechnya. Born Anna Mazepa in New York City to Soviet Ukrainian parents serving as United Nations diplomats, she grew up in Moscow and graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in journalism. She was both an American and Russian citizen. She began her journalist career in 1982 at the Soviet newspaper, Izvestia, and then moved on to work as a reporter, editor, and eventually chief editor of the newspaper, Obshchaya Gazeta. She also was a regular contributor to Novaya Gazeta.

Politkovskaya's work in Chechnya brought her awards and acclaim, especially outside of Russia. Her last book was Putin's Russia, which sold well in Western Europe and the United States. Politkovskaya was always quick to state that she saw herself more as a reporter describing the daily life of citizens in crisis rather than as an investigative reporter. Many of her articles were either critical of the Chechnya War or Putin, including vivid descriptions of the abuses committed by military forces on both sides of the conflict. She chronicled human rights abuses and policy failures in Chechnya and other parts of Russia and the former Soviet Republics. In Putin's Russia, she accused the Russian secret service (FSB) of stifling all civil liberties in order to reestablish a Soviet-style form of government. She wrote: "We are hurtling back into a Soviet abyss, into an information vacuum that spells death from our own ignorance...if you want to go on working as a journalist, it's total servility to Putin. Otherwise, it can be death, the bullet, poison, or trial..." Such comments attracted the attention of Putin's government and numerous threats to her life were made.

In March of 2006 Anna Politkovskaya was found shot dead in the elevator of her apartment block in central Moscow. No high-ranking Russian officials could be seen at the ceremony, which only further prompted international outrage and suspicion of government involvement in her murder. The circumstances of her death remain under investigation.

Image: Photo of Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya by Tatyana Zelenskaya, 2004.

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