UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize awarded posthumously for the first time, to Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, for “incredible courage”, “dedication and fearless pursuit of the truth”. Yet what was this truth? And since when was “pursuit of the truth” distortion of the same, since when was “courage” no more than a slanderous smear against the Kremlin, against which Politkovskaya never managed to unearth any proof at all?
Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist for Novaya Gazeta, left her benchmark on her profession. The winner of the Golden Pen of Russia and the Special Diploma of the Jury of the Andrei Sakharov Prize was involved in investigating events in Chechnya at the time of her murder, in the lift of her apartment block, on 7th October 2006.
It is however the “truth” and the interpretation of this from all corners, which raises the issue not only of who was responsible for Politkovskaya’s death but indeed whether this death has been orchestrated, or even perpetrated, by those with an axe to grind against Russia. Indeed, has Anna Politovskaya’s cause been used and abused by those who wish to perpetuate the Cold War, desperate to find some mud to sling against the Kremlin?
Before these same quarters celebrate the attribution of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize and use this as a banner to embarrass the Kremlin, let us examine the case further and find exactly where the truth lies.
For a start, the death of any human being is a tragedy and nobody is celebrating or gloating over the death of a woman who gave her life for something she believed in. Secondly, despite years of exhaustive investigative journalism, Anna Politkovskaya did not once manage to uncover any evidence whatsoever to implicate the Kremlin in anything.
The only “truth” she managed to uncover were excesses by the Chechen authorities, including the Kadyrov family, and prove that there were Chechen forces fighting on the side of the Russian Federal Armed Forces, as she wrote in her last published work, Karatelniy Sgovor. So not all Chechens, then, were on the side of their beloved “freedom fighters”? Or in plain English, many Chechens were so appalled at the brutality of these terrorists that they decided to take up arms against them so that the people of Chechnya could get on with their lives in peace.
The unfortunate truth is that in war zones, it is not difficult to find excesses committed by any side, just as a traffic policeman does not find it difficult to find something wrong with an automobile. Indeed, many have been the human rights atrocities committed by the US Armed Forces in Iraq – torture chambers, dogs set on people, perverted sexual abuse of prisoners, rape of women, slaughter of children, massacres, have all been carefully documented. As for the United Kingdom, this country speaks out against international terrorism yet grants asylum to Akhmed Zakaev, whose “freedom fighters” committed the atrocity at Beslan, for example, among many others.
The truth is that Politkovskaya had, through her investigations, unearthed illicit operations by Chechen officials – and the truth is that the entire Chechnya issue is a business for those involved in illicit activities, not a question of freedom – indeed, the Chechen population made this crystal clear when they voted almost unanimously in a referendum to remain within the Russian Federation.
In fact, all Politkovskaya managed to find in her quest for the “truth” was evidence of what everyone already knew – namely that there exist dangerous bandits in Chechnya, that these have been infiltrated by international terrorists and that the local authorities are determined to exterminate this vermin so that the citizens of Chechnya can return to a normal and prosperous life, which is the case today.
Anna Politkovskaya did not find any material which implicated the Kremlin directly in anything, therefore those western elements who use her name in an attempt to incriminate President Putin personally or the Russian authorities in general, are doing nothing other than provide evidence that they are hysterical paranoids whose one and only aim is to perpetuate the Cold War, so that the Arms Lobby that gravitates around the White House and NATO can continue to dole out jobs for the boys.
Questions which remain unanswered are who was funding Politkovskay’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper? The US Congress? And in this case, how telling that her “investigative journalism” was purely a distortion of the truth and her quest for the “truth”, no more than a slanderous campaign against the good name of Vladimir Putin, who had nothing whatsoever to gain from her death – which in turn provided a martyr for his enemies. These are the ones who killed Anna Politkovskaya, and the arrest of two Chechen citizens shortly after the murder, caught on military satellite photographs, is proof of this.
Therefore if awards are given by high authorities in the international community for distortion of the truth and slander, this does little to honour the noble profession of Journalism and simply underlines the point that the Cold War may be over for the Russians but apparently is not for the West.