Politkovskaya, Anna 1958(?)-
POLITKOVSKAYA, Anna 1958(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1958; children: two.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harvill Press, Random House U.K. Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, England.
CAREER: Journalist. Novaya gazeta, Moscow, Russia, reporter.
AWARDS, HONORS: Golden Pen Award, Russian Union of Journalists, 2000, for coverage of second Chechen War; Artem Borovik Award, Overseas Press Club, 2001; Most Courageous Defense of Freedom of Expression Award, Index on Censorship, 2002; Courage in Journalism Award, International Women's Media Foundation, 2002.
A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya, translated and edited by John Crowfoot, introduction by Thomas de Waal, Harvill Press (London, England), 2001.
A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Guardian.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A book analyzing the effect of the Chechen wars on Russian society.
SIDELIGHTS: Dissident Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has gained worldwide attention for her courageous efforts in reporting on the second Chechen war, a brutal conflict between Russia and Chechnya, a breakaway, majority-Muslim province in the Caucasus that has fought two wars with Russia since 1990. For several years Politkovskaya has reported on the suffering of the Chechen civilians and the atrocities committed by the Russian military for the liberal, independent newspaper Novaya gazeta, despite deep resistance from the Russian government: she was threatened numerous times, and in February of 2001 she was detained on a military base for several days.
In late 2001 Politkovskaya met in Grozny, the Chechen capital, with the head of a commission which had been created to investigate the conduct of the Russian military in the conflict. An hour later the man and his entire commission were killed and their report was destroyed in a helicopter crash as they were on their way back to Moscow to present their findings to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin. As Politkovskaya could deduce from the location of the crash, the official Russian story that the helicopter had been shot down by Chechen militants could not possibly be true. She wrote an article saying that the Russian military itself must have shot down the helicopter. After this story appeared, Politkovskaya received serious threats from within the Russian defense ministry which forced her to flee to Vienna, Austria in October, 2001.
During her time in exile Politkovskaya traveled throughout Europe and the United States promoting her first book, A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya, a collection of thirty-eight of her articles about the conflict. Translator John Crowfoot and fellow journalist Thomas de Waal provide a preface and an introduction, respectively, which explain the history of the conflict in Chechnya before the period that Politkovskaya's reporting covers. The reporting itself, reviewers noted, is excellent. "She wants to make the brutality of the war real, to bring the dirt, stench and blood into the lives of Novaya gazeta readers in Moscow and elsewhere," Graeme P. Herd wrote in Europe-Asia Studies. The result is a "harrowing, utterly compelling piece of reportage," said Observer book reviewer John Sweeney.
In October, 2002, Politkovskaya was in Los Angeles to accept an award for her reporting when she was called back to Russia. Chechen terrorists had taken several hundred people hostage in a Moscow theater, and they were requesting that Politkovskaya, one of the only Russians that they trusted, come to negotiate. She did, and spent a good deal of time talking to one of the hostage-takers, but she had little success. She convinced him to allow her to bring water and juice into the theater for the hostages to drink, but that was all. Hours later, Russian forces stormed the theater, and all of the terrorists and many of the hostages were killed.
Politkovskaya continues to travel to Chechnya and report on the war there.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Europe-Asia Studies, March, 2002, Graeme P. Herd, review of A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya, pp. 329-331.
Guardian (London, England), July 14, 2001, David Hearst, review of A Dirty War, p. 9; February 22, 2002, "War Reporter Falls Victim to Russian Smear Campaign," p. 15.
Library Journal, September 15, 2001, Marcia L. Sprules, review of A Dirty War, p. 98.
Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2002, David Shaw, "Turbulent Times Create a Minefield for Reporters," p. E-16.
Maclean's, January 14, 2002, "Chechnya's Dirty War: Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya Bears Witness to the Region's Horrors," p. 16.
Media Report to Women, spring, 2002, "Canada, Russia, Zimbabwe Journalists to Receive IWMF Courage Awards," p. 9.
Newsweek International, May 27, 2002, Christian Caryl, "Dispatches from Hell," p. 24.
New York Times, December 15, 2001, Celestine Bohlen, "In Chechnya, Truth is a Dangerous Goal," pp. 5, E17.
Observer (London, England), July 22, 2001, John Sweeney, review of A Dirty War, p. 15.
Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2001, review of ADirty War, p. 56.
Times (London, England), March 24, 2002, Michael Binyon, "Brave Voice of Russia's Accuser: A Tribute to a Russian Journalist's Exposé of the Chechen War."
Times Literary Supplement, October 19, 2001, Abraham Brumberg, review of A Dirty War, p. 26.
Committee to Protect Journalists Web site,http://www.cpj.org/ (November 13, 2001), "See No Evil: An Interview with Anna Politkovskaya."
Digital Freedom Network,http://dfn.org/ (December 3, 2001), Siobhan Dowd, "Silenced Voice: Anna Politkovskaya."
Independent Women's Media Forum, October 24, 2002, "Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya to Help in Hostage Negotiations in Moscow."*