Monday, November 27, 2006

[anna politkovskaya] curiouser and curiouser

Well, it gets more and more convoluted. First a western defence of Russia I wasn't expecting:

The Western reaction to Politkovskaya’s murder is quite another matter. The fact that the Kremlin is prone to shoot itself in the foot is not enough ground to portray it as an embodiment of all evil or worse, to accuse the Russian authorities as somehow being behind the killing. The people in the Kremlin are no angels and can be clumsy in their public gestures, but they are not cold-blooded murderers and they certainly are not idiots. The political and media frenzy that has engulfed the Western capitals is disgusting, and glaringly anti-Russian. It gives the impression that the West is not mourning Anna Politkovskaya but is instead trying to put Putin on trial.

Then my most rational source with military connections got back to me and a forty minute phone discussion ensued just now.

Out of it came a surprising defence of AP. Yes she was in with the warlords, yes she reported essentially the Russian misdeeds and a token number of Chechyen misdeeds to balance the books, yes she actually met Litvinenko in London to discuss strategy, yes the latter was on speaking terms with the other two, yes she was a woman driven by a sort of 'mission from above' as she saw it and it p---ed off a great many people, yes she met the terrorist leaders and was escorted around by them. And Putin's view that she was vastly more important to the west than inside the country [though of course she has her support] seems borne out by most people seeing her as "one piece in the jigsaw".

Out of all this comes the question: "And why not?" She was a reporter and that's what reporters do. Of course Basaev and company were accommodating, as she was taking a heavily anti-Putin and pro-Chechnyen line which she admits in her book "Dirty War". Of course Russian officers ran the other way when they saw her. I have a question no one's yet answered. "Why was she allowed to remain in the war zone reporting thus?" If she was subject to poisonings, beatings and so on, this is not the Russian way. Russians are not half-hearted if they turn against you with piddly little semi-poisonings and the like. The Russian way is to disappear you or send you to the gulag.

It suggests to me that either she was not nearly as great an adversary as the West likes to make out or else someone was making these clumsy attempts for publicity. Even the average Britisher will admit the KGB were at least efficient. So that's another twist. Out of it all, I look back at my previous posts and stand by them. Through Moscow and military eyes she was certainly a traitor, failing to adequately present the Chechyen leadership as a breeding ground for terrorism which all sources I've seen agree on. Through Western eyes she was a fearless heroine. I can't see that we can get much further now, really I don't.

and here are two more articles on her, both critical and supportive. Naturally you'll dwell on the part you wish to.


Ellee said...

I'm going to be very self-restrained and not comment in the way you would expect. The media frenzy is certainly whipping up here, there have even been talks of Westminster being checked out for polonium. Have you read Anna's book, btw?

james higham said...

What is there to be restrained about, Ellee? It's becoming clearer and clearer about her as we go that indeed she was in with the Chechnyens, initially for the people but then with the leadership. But never forget [and I didn't put this in this post] that those men who escorted her about and on whom, in her articles, she was quite subdued compared to her attacks on Russia, these men were mass murderers and terrorist breeders [Beslan but one example]. That came through very clearly today. To answer your question, yes, I've been doing nothing but reading her both in the original and in English and as I did so, her choice of vocabulary for one side and then for the other became quite marked [I presume you read the reviews of her book I linked as well]. Is it any wonder she delighted the Chechyen leadership with writing of that nature, although she went on record denouncing Basaev after he presumed too much. That's the point she denounced certain Chechyen leaders and it began to sour. The meeting in London with Litvinenko was a surprise I hadn't expected either. As I originally said, all those posts ago, there's more to her than meets the eye. I deliberately didn't mention the other source in this post, not becasue it didn't check out but becasue it supported my contention too much. It became clear that this man was very much part of the military and of course they are biased for the other side. I've tried only to include substantiated data.