Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Politkovskaya's Heritage Lives On

Today, public readings of texts by Anna Politkovskaya will be held in 20 countries and 80 places worldwide. With half a year passed since the heinous murder of Russian journalist and regime critic Politkovskaya, she now stands out as an international symbol for the freedom of speech.

This is the second year that the German Peter Weiss Foundation organises international public readings disclosing political lies, and it is intended that 20 March will henceforth serve as an "Anniversary of the Political Lie." Last year's event was dedicated to the lies surrounding the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Weiss Foundation initiative is supported by a number of prominent organisations worldwide, among which are International PEN and Reporters Without Borders. That this year's event is dedicated to the memory of Anna Politkovskaya and the exposed position of journalists in Russia, is a worthy tribute to Politkovskaya's commitment to reveal the truth and expose the abuse of power. Today, her voice is heard worldwide, advocating freedom of speech and an open society.

11 comments:

MattyJ said...

Eurasian Voice is back and discussing Ukraine's slide towards authoritarianism...

Heribert Schindler said...

Peter Weiss Foundation

I have never heared of this foundation before, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear Matt,

That was nice to hear, viz. that Eurasian Voice is back. I had almost given up hope on you, but one never knows.

Yours,

Vilhelm

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear Heribert,

Yes, I must also confess that I had never heard of the Peter Weiss Foundation myself until the other day. There are various societies and cultural institutions in Peter Weiss name, but this one was new to me as well. Still, judging from the support of co-organisers, it is a serious organisation and the vrey idea of annual public readings to expose political lies is simply great.

Yours,

Vilhelm

Heribert Schindler said...

Still, judging from the support of co-organisers, it is a serious organisation and the vrey idea of annual public readings to expose political lies is simply great.

One could consider Anna Politovskaya being biased and accuse her of applying a single-sided view, but I don't think we should go as far as assuming her works to contain political lies.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear Heribert,

Politkovskaya should not be made into an icon, which may not be questioned. I wrote a review of her last book a couple of years back, and of course one has to turn a critical eye to any text. Still, my conclusion is that she indeed was very honest about what she wrote, and she made no secret of her subjective stance.

Having met her myself quite a few times over the years, I have come to understand that she indeed was a very subjective person, but that lying simply was not within her. That was not part of her personality as I grasped it.

Still, one should be critical to Politkovskaya's text in exactly the same way as she herself turned a critical eye to her times.

Yours,

Vilhelm

Heribert Schindler said...

Vilhelm, it was you who used the term political lie in your comment regarding, and in context with, the Politkovskaya reading at the Peter Weiss Foundation.

I understood your comment going into the direction of Anna Politkovskaya's work / book(s) containing political lies. Now you write "[...]that lying simply was not within her [...]". Isn't this a little contradictory ?

I agree with you that she was very subjective (not a very good attribute when wanting to be respected for being an investigative journalist), as this is the impression I've gained by reading her.

I really can't say having read any political lie in her work. Neither made by her, nor by the ones she was writing about.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear Heribert,

Oh, now I see what you mean! Perhaps, I was not explicit enough in my piece. The "Anniversary of the Political Lie" is an event intended to highlight the exposure of political lies by journalists and others, viz. Politkovskaya is honoured for disclosing lies to the public, i.e. absolutely not for lying herself. To the contrary. Still, her subjectiveness was part and parcel of her journalism, which she openly admitted. As long as one makes such a statement, it should pose no problem for the reader, and it also signals that one should contextualise her texts as subjective. Still, in doing so, Politkovskaya exposed political lies and told a truth not accounted for by so many others.

Yours,

Vilhelm

Heribert Schindler said...

Ok, it's understood.

So which political lies did Anna Politkovskaya expose that deserve a reading ? Isn't she rather read because she's dead and her death, and it's circumstances, is the promotion ? Many journalists, among other professions, become famous after dying a violent death.

As to her writings, yes, they were biased and "subjective" and should be read in the context with other (opposing) views. This is called dialectic. She brings a thesis, others an anti-thesis and we, the dedicated readers, are challenged to construct the synthesis.

Politkovskaya wasn't the messenger of absolute and undisputable truth, she was a "carrier" of a thesis. I agree with your assessment that she is instrumentalized and glorified.

I guess she would rotate in her grave could she read how much she's being "used" today. (Nodding in the general direction of my favourite NGOists).

Tenor: She wrote something, she died, she's gotta be right.

I'm not boxing in the same league as Politkovskaya, am not claiming to do, but I also produce a hell of a lot theses (most of them considered being crap by my readers). Will they all become the naked truth once I've passed away (hopefully not violently) ?

Fazit: She didn't deserve to die. I am awefully sorry she did. But she's absolutely overrated. As you've put it very eloquently yourself, she's turned into an icon. The Russian Jeanne D'Arc of the 21st century.

And the herd of the lemmings trotts in the entirely wrong direction [sigh].

Jens-Olaf said...

Today I've read a piece of Monika Maron in the FAZ (Germany)about Politkowskaja. Maron is a writer with roots in the GDR. She asks:
"Was wissen wir von einem Mut, der lebensgefährlich ist? was wissen wir noch von einer Ohnmacht, die solchen Mut hevorbringt?"
She talking about: What do we know about that powerlessness that produces that courage? I disagree Heribert Schindler, and I am not a lemming (this word sounds very German to me, not funny, speaking about people/humans) And I do not like the style of Politkovskaya's writing either.
Ohnmacht gebiert Mut

Heribert Schindler said...

Geschätzer "Jens-Olaf",

you not only failed to see my point, you also translated incorrectly. But never mind.

As to the "Lemmings", it is an English word, the German equivalent is "Lemminge".

"As the Lemmings" is a generally accepted term for "blindly following the herd". Just as "As the Dodos" is the generally accepted term for "following the path towards extinction".

Out of respect towards Vilhelm I will not address the flaws of your translation and of your assessment regarding what has been written in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)".

My point remains that Anna Politkovskaya is instrumentalized for a general crusade against Russia in general and Putin in particular.

It is entirely you to determine whether you consider yourself being a "Lemming" or not, whether you act likewise or not.

The appropriate German proverb to explain your reaction, and the tone, towards my comment would be: "Ein getretener Hund bellt".

Of course, there is not offense intended.