Anna Politkovskaya, an award-winning Russian journalist, was gunned down in the elevator going to her Moscow flat. Her criticism of Putin’s war on Chechnya made her few friends at high places.
I came back from Moscow a week ago. Frankly, I didn’t see much change since the totalitarian times. I was especially struck when I visited their Museum of Modern History. It definitely felt like history was repeating itself – a revolution followed by an authoritarian regime.
Back to journalism though, here’s the cold statistics on Russia’s track record:
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says Russia is the third-deadliest country in the world for journalists in the past 15 years, behind only Iraq and Algeria. Forty-two journalists have died in Russia since 1992, many slain in contract-style killings which have remained unsolved.
I can’t imagine any kind of citizen journalism happening in a country where the professionals are getting gunned down. I’ll wrap it up with another quote – this one from the great journalist Hunter S. Thompson (a.k.a. Doctor Gonzo):
If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people – including me – would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.