Another Voice Silenced
Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead on Saturday at her apartment block in central Moscow, police said.Politkovskaya, author of the scathing book Putin's Russia (which could not be published in her native country) and award-winning writer for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, was a harsh critic of Putin's authoritarianism and of his government's human rights violations in Chechnya. She was shot twice by an unknown assailant.
Sources from Novaya Gazeta and human rights organizations around the world intimated that she may have been killed for political reasons. It may not even have been the first attempt. On her way to cover the Beslan school massacre in 2004, someone—the Russian security service, she said—poisoned her and sent her to the hospital.
Agents for Putin's government would have ample reason to try again now:
In the days before her death, Politkovskaya had been working on a story about torture in Chechnya, which was expected to be published on Monday, her newspaper said.The Committee to Protect Journalists called her murder a "devastating development for journalism in Russia."
If the government was involved, this incident is at once an indication of how much better we have it in the United States, and how much worse it can get. Putin's Russia is a textbook example of what can happen when too much power is consolidated in the hands of the executive.
We have a long, long way to go before we sink to Russia's level, but we're not exactly going in the right direction at the moment.