By Farah Souames*
By Farah Souames*
Morocco World News
Algiers, November 21, 2011
The Russian investigation committee recently accused and arrested a suspected killer of the opposition journalist Anna Politkovskaïa, who was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on October 2006. But investigators have remained silent about who might have ordered the killing of Politkovskaïa, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its appointed strongman in Chechnya. The alleged assassin was previously considered a potential witness, according to Vladimir Markine, spokesman for the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office. Markine announced: “The Russian investigation committee accused Lom-Ali Gaïtoukaïev for the murder of Politkovskaïa, for reasons relative to her professional activities.” Mr. Gaïtoukaïev has previously declared that an amount of $2 million had been paid for the murder.
Mr. Markine said another suspected killer has been accused, Ibraguim Makhmoudov, Gaïtoukaïev’s nephew. On September 2011, the investigation showed information proving that Lom-Ali Gaïtoukaïev organized the murder by forming a group which included former police officer Dmitri Pavlioutchenkov, former policeman Sergueï Khadjikourbanov and Makhmoudov.
A court found the Makhmoudov brothers and Sergueï Khadjikourbanov not guilty in 2009, but the Russian Supreme Court overruled the acquittal and sent the case back to prosecutors.
During her fearless reporting career, Politkovskaïa, 48, reserved her most vicious criticisms for Ramzan Kadyrov – Chechnya’s Kremlin-appointed president. Kadyrov has denied involvement in her death. Over the last three years, however, several other enemies of Kadyrov have met brutal deaths, most recently the human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, who in July was abducted from her home in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, and shot.
A Bitter Taste of Freedom
Los Angeles-based, Marina Goldovskaïa’s latest film, A Bitter Taste of Freedom, is a soulful homage to her best friend Anna Politkovskaïa. She tells Politkovskaïa’s life in detail from childhood to the moment it was tragically claimed by a murderer. The murder itself and the investigation, which is still underway, have not been included in the film.
More revealing than previous films about Politkovskaïa, recipient of an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism, A Bitter Taste of Freedom blends bits of contextual archives and photos from the field with diacritic footage the filmmaker shot in Anna’s home during their many years of heart-to-heart conversations, beginning in 1990. Goldovskaïa became close to Politkovskaïa while making A Taste of Freedom about Anna’s husband Sasha Politkovsky, a prominent TV journalist known for his frank commentaries on contemporary politics. (She tracked him for six dramatic weeks during the height of popular demonstrations in the Soviet Union, when the final vestiges of totalitarianism gave way to the epoch-shifting imperatives of glasnost and perestroika.)
Colleagues, family members, former editors and even Mikhail Gorbachev appear onscreen to eulogize the fallen writer and activist, but the film’s best moments are with Anna herself, a charismatic presence admirably devoted to both her personal causes and the well-being of her two children, despite the constant threats on her life.
Marina Goldovskaïa has made 35 films and has earned numerous awards, including the PrixEuropa, Golden Gate Award, Golden Hugo, Joris Ivens and Silver Rembrandt. In 2006, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Art of Documenting History from the Russian Association of non-Fiction Film and TV. She heads the Documentary program at UCLA Film School.
A Bitter Taste of Freedom, a joint project between Russia and Sweden, premiered in New York on August 20 and enjoyed huge success with the audience. It may compete at the 84th Academy Awards if the International Documentary Association approves the biopic for the program.
Goldovskaïa’s film shared the award for Best Documentary with Slovak-Czech film, Nickyho Rodina, at the Montreal World Film Festival in August. It will be appearing in the Oscar lead up program Docuweeks in New York and LA.
A total of seven Russian films were included in the program of Montreal’s film festival this year, including Once There Lived a Woman, a drama made by Andrey Smirnov, and Africa: Blood & Beauty by Sergey Yastrzhembsky, a former press secretary of President Boris Yeltsin.
Media freedom in Russi
Anna Politkovskaïa’s assasination in 2006 remains of the strongest examples of the risks faced by journalists in Russia. Media freedom is an imaginary front that exists only when government interests are not the subject. Curious journalists censor themselves because of the risks of going beyond red lines.
Since 2000 during the Putin-Medvedev era, nearly 122 journalists have been found dead under varying circumstances such as car accidents or homicides Perpetrators of such crimes are rarely punished by a tolerant legal system.
In the beginning of 2000, Putin authorized a technical system of wire trapping for enabling the police to control internet use and require that internet providers cooperate with government surveillance.
* Farah Souames is Morocco World News’ correspondent in Algeria
Photo by: N. Kolesnikova / AFP
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