Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 37

On October 7, the European-based website Ichkeria.org reported that award-winning Russian war correspondent Anna Politkovskaya has been sent to Vienna, Austria by the editorial board of her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, “out of considerations for her safety.” In an interview with a Vienna website, Politkovskaya explained that during the middle of September certain of her colleagues at the paper “had begun to receive threats warning me not to go any more to Chechnya, inasmuch as mortal danger threatened me.” Despite such warnings, she nonetheless went once again to the Chechen capital, where she found herself in a locked-down city, completely blockaded by the Russian military. On September 17, she had a conversation with General Anatoly Pozdnyakov, the commander of a group from the Russian military general staff tasked “with collecting the facts concerning military crimes [in Chechnya], with systematizing them and with presenting them for the examination of the president, something which had never previously happened in Chechnya.”

On the same day, shortly after having talked to Politkovskaya, Pozdnyakov, another general and eight colonels, most of them from the General Staff, were killed when their helicopter was shot down over Djohar (Grozny), not far from the Khankala military base. Politkovskaya submitted an account of her conversation with Pozdnyakov to her paper, but the Ministry of Defense summoned the chief editor of Novaya Gazeta to the ministry and asked angrily “how they could even think of publishing her piece.” The typescript of her article was then broken up, and a significantly watered-down version appeared. “I returned from Chechnya,” Politkovskaya recalled, “and it turned out that people in the Ministry of Defense… began to warn of new threats, saying that their patience in relation to my reporting had run out.” She was warned that an ex-officer named Larin, a professional killer, was on her trail. It was at this point that the Novaya Gazeta editorial board took a decision to send her to Vienna.