Sunday, October 08, 2006

Death & the Kremlin

Anna Politkovskaya is dead. Murdered by the same cruelty and brutality that she herself dedicated her life to fight. For a moment the world has come to a standstill. Political leaders and common people alike react with sorrow and abhorrence as a mighty voice of freedom and tolerance is silenced. As darkness falls over Moscow, Russia is engulfed by dumb gloom as the walls of the Kremlin stay silent, when even the stones should scream out: "Так нельзя жить!" - We cannot live like this!

The fact remains: When Russia's "first journalist" is silenced, Russia's "first person" stays silent. No word from Putin, no word from the Kremlin when the freedom of the press is trampled on by brutal suppression. The tacit message thus sent, resounds with piercing echo: Freedom of speech has no place in Putin's Russia. "Qui tacet, consentit" - silence implies consent - is regrettably the conclusion drawn from Kremlin reticence, thereby making power implicitly complicit to a crime against the inalienable rights of the Russian people. That the Kremlin most probably bears no direct guilt in Politkovskaya's assasination, is thus obscured by its unwillingness to react with vehemence and call out for the guilty to be brought to justice.

The silence of the Kremlin is no surprise. The Russian administration has actively ignored Politkovskaya and the charges she has brought against the Putinist poles of power. She published three international bestsellers on the war in Chechnya and the state of Russia. None was ever published in Russia. Dead or alive, Putin shuns Politkovskaya like the plague.

During the last year, the Kremlin has poured millions of dollar on PR consultants to improve the international image of the country. How the world looks on Russia, is partly the way Russia looks at itself. Putin and his political technologists know this, and still they do not react, when the world must think fundamental freedoms has no place in Russia. All prejudice is thus confirmed and Russia risks returning to the dark ages of dehumanising authoritarian power.

Still, it would be so easy to go the other way, to acknowledge one's greatest critic, to speak out loud for liberty and dignity. Regardless of the sincerity of such an act, Putin would stand out as a statesman, truly concerned with the destiny of free speech in his country. That he does not, may have a simple logic: For Putin, Politkovskaya was a traitor who betrayed her country on Russia's road to resurrection as a great power among nations. She was the one who told the truth about an unpleasant reality that the Kremlin would rather ignore. She showed the Russians the vanity of "greatness" and the price the people had to pay to suffer and sacrifice for the sake of their leaders deluded ambitions. In her last book, Politkovskaya is asked: "things surely cannot be that bad"? Now, turning the last page of Anna Politkovskaya's life, one can only agree with her reply: "It is much worse."

Anna Politkovskaya lived in the present and jotted down her emotional reactions "in the margins of life as it is lived in Russia today." What she saw was not pleasant, but someone had to say out loud what many knew and thought. This proved her destiny in life and tragically destined her to the fatal fate she suffered. Her clear and frank voice may have gone silent, but the values she fought for are revived by her final sacrifice.


Anonymous said...

Death and the Kremlin, for all its reprehensible tragedy is the reverse of War on Iraq. Both Putin and Bush figure on the coin, minted on the anvil of ideology. Power on one side has a byzantine plot and dead bodies from the closets (Stalin supplied his own share.) and it allows Putin to let silence be interpreted in whichever manner by others. What of George Bush? Similar twists and turns dog Bush who invaded Iraq on the plea of WMD,Terror nexus etc.; all of which we know are blatant lies.
Yet for all our certainties these two power centres are safe because there are many worlds revolving on their own axis, drawing their own advantages from these. You call them plutocrats or oligarchs and still their reach run deep and twisted, to touch every aspect of our lives in some way or other.

The Ranger said...

Benny, I like the way you speak and write. Thanks for the honesty.

The Ranger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
W. Shedd said...

Yes, and the Kremlin's comments of today are still wholely unsatisfactory. From the Kremlin's website.

"The two Presidents discussed the situation following the nuclear test conducted by North Korea. Mr Putin noted Russia’s particular concern at North Korea’s decision to explode a nuclear device in direct proximity to Russian territory. Mr Putin and Mr Bush agreed that North Korea’s demonstrative act has dealt a blow to the non-proliferation regime and in this respect noted the need to coordinate efforts to resolve the problem.

During the conversation, Mr Putin said that Russia’s law enforcement agencies would make every effort necessary to ensure an objective investigation into the tragic death of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

The two leaders also discussed preparations for their upcoming meeting at the APEC summit in Hanoi in November 2006.

The conversation took place on the United States’ initiative."

Michelle said...

You are one of the few reporters who seems to understand what is really happening in Russia and Eastern Europe. Not enough people want to know the truth in this part of the world! Thank you for posts!

Anonymous said...

I was in the process of writing my post of the day, linking to this one when you commented. Just wanted to let you know I'm still reading.

lilfeathers2000 said...

Putin has shown his true colors. KGB and keep the people under control.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Benny & Ranger: I really have little to say on comparisons between Putin and Bush, as I am primarily an expert on Russia.

Wally: The absence of proper comments from the Kremlin is horrendous but not unexpected. Putin and his pals saw Politkovskaya as an enemy who betrayed Russia, and when dead they will not hesitate to stoop so low as to ignore or soil her memory.

Michelle: I am so happy that you still find my blog of interest. As for understanding. The day I think I understand, I should stop doing this.

Jane: Great that you are still reading. I go by your blog every once in a while, but without Russia it is simply not the same, despite the fact that I like your style of writing and everything. I must be too narrow-minded, I guess.

Lilfeathers2000: Events such as these serve to symbolise changes of a more fundamental character. This is what Politkovskaya wrote about and that is what Putin hopes will be ignored.