The murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow six days ago has given her a much larger audience for her campaign against torture and repression carried out in Chechnya in the name of the “war against terrorism”.
Today, The Independent publishes her final, unfinished article, for Novaya Gazeta as its front page splash under the heading, The final dispatch of a reporter murdered for telling the truth. It starts:
Dozens of files cross my desk every day. They are copies of criminal cases against people jailed for “terrorism” or refer to people who are still being investigated. Why have I put the word “terrorism” in quotation marks here?
Because the overwhelming majority of these people have been “fitted up” as terrorists by the authorities. In 2006 the practice of “fitting up” people as terrorists has supplanted any genuine anti-terrorist struggle. And it has allowed people who are revenge-minded to have their revenge – on so-called potential terrorists.
It is typical of The Independent to plough its own furrow with a choice of lead which sets it apart from the general run of newspapers. The decision needs the context provided by the paper’s editorial. Unfortunately, The Independent will charge you Â£1 to read that online, 30p more than buying the paper. If you are prepared to pay, this is the link.
There are arguments for charging for online access to some specialist material and archives but to charge for leaders which few normally read seems to be perverse, even for a newspaper which has not embraced the web.
Here are the final two paragraphs of the editorial which explains what The Independent sees as the significance of the story:
But the west has not simply been silent [about human rights abuses in Chechnya]. President Putin is actively feted by the United States as an ally in the “war on terror”. Our own government, apparently terrified of diverging from the Washington line, follows suit. Meanwhile, many European nations attempt to stay on good terms with Moscow for fear of jeopardising their supplies of oil and natural gas from the “energy superpower”. It has taken the murder of perhaps the bravest journalist in modern Russia to get the world to pay attention once again to the vile abuses being perpertrated in this part of the world. If our leaders expect their condemnation of Politkovskaya’s murder to be taken seriously, they will make it clear to President Putin that the criminal brutality taking place in Chechnya will no longer be ignored.