- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

The death of Anna Politkovskaya must not be forgotten by democratic public opinion. Mrs. Politkovskaya, 48, the intrepid Russian journalist, and mother of two children, was shot and killed Oct. 7 in a central Moscow apartment house hallway. A Makarov pistol and four cartridges were discovered at the scene.

To show our antipathy to the assassination of Mrs. Politkovskaya. I think President Bush should recommend creation of a Politkovskaya scholarship at the Columbia University School of Journalism or a similar institution to be awarded to an outstanding young Russian journalist. Perhaps Freedom House and the American Newspaper Guild could jointly with Columbia undertake such a task.

Vitaly Tretyakov, chief editor of Moskovskie Novosti newspaper, said the murder was connected with Mrs. Politkovskaya’s professional activities.

“It’s clear that the first and only version everyone can think about is the one connected with professional activity,” he said, adding Mrs. Politkovskaya wrote articles on North Caucasus problems, including Chechnya, subjects of great sensitivity to the Kremlin.

As of this writing, the police have made no arrests though the assassin’s photograph was captured by a concealed lobby camera. Little is known about the police investigation, if any, into the murder of one of the most high profile journalists in today’s Russia. The paper she worked for, Novaya Gazeta, has been described as Russia’s one and only independent newspaper.

An article about the Politkovskaya murder by Anders Aslund in the Weekly Standard Oct. 23 was titled “Putin gets away with murder … it’s time to confront the Russian leader.” Mr. Aslund, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics, argues the Politkovskaya murder is further evidence “Western policy toward Russia has been an unmitigated failure since Vladimir Putin became president on New Year’s Eve 1999.”

Mr. Putin’s “restructuring” policies have encouraged threats to press freedom, and Mrs. Politkovskaya’s murder is a natural concomitant of those policies because it guarantees an immunity to the mobsters who killed her.

Oct. 21, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the editors of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, for which the slain reporter worked. The meeting with the newspaper’s editor in chief Dmitry Muratov and Ilya Politkovsky, son of the slain reporter occurred at the Moscow Marriott hotel. According to Miss Rice, “In the person of Politkovskaya, the world lost an important person.”

Miss Rice expressed her condolences to Ilya Politkovsky. That is good, but more is needed. A set of journalism scholarships, named after Politkovskaya, ought to be forthcoming in all democracies to remind us of the fragility of our freedoms, especially in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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