Her voice lives on

Murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was one of the world’s finest journalists, killed in a nation where discovering the truth can be deadly. The Guardian today publishes an extract from her final book:

The day of the elections to the Duma, the [same] day Putin began his campaign for re-election as president. In the morning he manifested himself at a polling station. He was cheerful, elated even, and a little nervous. This was unusual: as a rule he is sullen. With a broad smile, he informed those assembled that his beloved labrador, Connie, had had puppies during the night. “Vladimir Vladimirovich was so very worried,’ Mme Putina intoned behind her husband. “We are in a hurry to get home,” she added, anxious to return to the bitch whose impeccable timing had presented this gift to the United Russia party.

That morning in Yessentuki, a small resort in the North Caucasus, the first 13 victims of a terrorist train attack were being buried. It had been the morning train, known as the student train, and young people were on their way to college. When, after voting, Putin went over to the journalists, it seemed he would express his condolences. Perhaps even apologise for the fact the government had again failed to protect its citizens. Instead he told them how pleased he was about his labrador’s puppies.

My friends phoned me. “He’s really put his foot in it this time. Russian people are never going to vote for United Russia now.” Around midnight, when the results started coming in, many people were in a state of shock. Russia had mutely surrendered herself to Putin.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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