From Socialist Review, No.314, May 2007.
Downloaded with thanks from the Socialist Review Website.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
A Russian Diary
Harvill Secker, £17.99
Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist who never stopped investigating the abuses of power no matter what the odds. But last October she was shot dead in the lift of her block of flats in Moscow.
There was some publicity in the West for her courageous stand against the Putin leadership, but she was in a media tomb well before the headlines were swamped by the poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who seems never to have taken a stand against one authority except for payment by another.
Media Workers Against the War and the National Union of Journalists organised an audacious picket of the Russian Embassy in London. Socialist Worker described Politkovskaya as “Russia’s Robert Fisk” and denounced Putin as her murderer, in true Politkovskaya style – clear, militant, outspoken.
Why keep her memory alive? She had her failings, above all, perhaps, her inability to fully grasp how ideas change in struggle. But her greatest legacy is her relentless anti-imperialism. She accused her most powerful fellow-compatriots of an unending atrocity in Chechnya. Against the Chechens, certainly, but also against the poor Russian soldiers, treated like “dust beneath their officers’ boots”.
There are many other treasures in this diary – about class, resistance and the failure of the pro-Western right, which she supported.
Buy it. Get it in to your library. Read her burning words: “We no longer want to be slaves, even if that is what best suits the West.”
Don’t worry that one of the two references to Litvinenko turns out to be a blank page. If it had been important, she would have written about it.
Last updated: 29.3.2008