Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist, writer, and human rights activist known for her opposition to the Second Chechen War and President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
Her investigative reporting had made her the target of numerous death threats. On one of her many reporting trips to Chechnya, Politkovskayawas detained and beaten by Russian troops who threw her into a pit, threatened to rape her, and performed a mock execution.
“If it were up to me,” an officer told her, “I’d shoot you.” Yet numerous death threats never slowed or stopped her. In fact, when she was killed, Politkovskaya was at work on an article revealing torture of Chechen civilians by security forces loyal to the region’s pro-Moscow prime minister.
"We asked her many times to stop covering Chechnya because it had grown too dangerous," said the newspaper's deputy editor Sergei Sokolov, her former colleague."But Anna said she could not turn a blind eye to what the Russian authorities were doing there."
On 7 October 2006, Putin's birthday, she was shot twice in the chest, once in the shoulder, and once in the head at point-blank range, in the lift of her block of flats in central Moscow.
It is 10 years since Russia and the world lost a great and courageous journalist. The killing of Anna Politkovskaya on October 7, 2006, was horrifying and shocking, but not unexpected.
As Oleg Panfilov, head of Moscow’s Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, said upon learning of her murder, “There are journalists who have this fate hanging over them. I always thought something would happen to Anya, first of all because of Chechnya.”
After Politkovskaya's murder, Vyacheslav Izmailov, her colleague at Novaya Gazeta—a military man who had helped negotiate the release of dozens of hostages in Chechnya before 1999—said that he knew of at least nine previous occasions when Politkovskaya had faced death.
The investigation and the trial saw a series of dramatic twists: the authorities unexpectedly replaced the investigative team, the suspected killer fled to Siberia, three suspects were acquitted and then the Supreme Court overturned the verdict. finally five people were convicted for the murder, with two of them sentenced to life.
However, her family and friends have always maintained that the real criminals, the ones who ordered her murder, escaped justice.
"It was very hard," Ilya Politkovskaya, Politkovskaya's son has said in 2014, "And in the end, there was no kind of justice." Sergei Sokolov, her former colleague said that "Justice has not been done. Yes, those who killed her are in prison, but not their boss, nor the boss of their boss." Another colleague Pavel Kanygin, a journalist at Novaya Gazeta, Ann's newspaper, said "Until there is a change of political regime in Russia, those who gave the order will remain free."
"Novaya Gazeta", the paper Politkovskaya worked for, continues to publish and do courageous reporting, despite suffering many blows in the years since Anna’s murder. Several of its journalists have died under mysterious circumstances, a few have been gunned down; all reported on risky topics (corruption, Chechnya’s human-rights abuses, right-wing nationalist extremism ) before their deaths.
Since 1992, 54 journalists have been killed in post-Soviet Russia–most in unsolved contract executions.