Monday, November 27, 2006

[anna politkovskaya] where lies the truth

I’ve been asked a perfectly reasonable thing: “Show why your negative assessment of Anna Politkovskaya and on what basis you're convinced that all was not straightforward with her.” It comes down to sources in the end:

1] politkovskaya’s own words
2] journalistic reportage on her
3] feelings of the ordinary person over here
4] statements by the Kremlin
5] certain sources close to the action

Source 2 currently floods the internet and the vast majority is derived from a small number of journalistic sources and/or based on AP’s words. 1 and 2 are the basis of most of your opinions.

My sources were 3 to 5. For a start then, we have the problem of agreed sources. I don’t mind saying that after reading a swathe of material today from sources 1 and 2, I began to have serious doubts. Then I went to work and thee asked all and sundry, which brought up this result:

3] The ordinary person’s opinion is not so reliable. Many today weren’t even fully aware of the major players, let alone who was who. I’ve cited the ‘ordinary Russian’ in earlier posts but it’s fairly clear now that they are in the same boat as most of you and don’t really know.

4] The Kremlin itself. Well, they're unequivocal – she was a known cohort of Basaev and was a spy. She was acting in the best interests of the terrorist warlords. Right, so not much for'rader.

Clearly, the only thing to do now was to go back to my own two contacts who’ve been reliable in the past and double check. This was for my own benefit really, to be sure myself before I even thought of posting anything. So I prepared a question:

“There are a number of people in the West who have been challenged my assertion that Anna Politkovskaya was not the innocent she appeared to be and I need to support what I've written. I’m not asking for details at this point but can you tell me – is there anything at all in the story of her collaboration with Basayev and others?”

Then I put in the phone calls. The first was silent at the other end, then wanted to know about how I’d use this and after I’d explained, he answered the question: “Konyeshno”, which is Russian for “of course”. So, I phoned the second, couldn’t immediately reach him but eventually did. He hobnobs with many who were and still are on the ground in Chechnya and he was less forthcoming. All I could get was that he’d meet me on Thursday morning to “talk about the woman”.

So we have an impasse, at least until Thursday. Now, even if my sources do enough to convince me, how much I’ll be permitted to put on record [remember the Chatham House situation] is anyone’s guess. Personally, the "Konyeshno" was too quick and categorical to allow me to graciously bow out and it seems that there is very much something in the assertion. But till Thursday, unfortunately, it must wait.


Ellee said...

I wish I could be with you on Thursday, and of course, the Chatham House rules would apply in those circumstances. I do admire you for following this through with first hand sources. Do follow all the leads you can and please let me know what develops.

Gracchi said...

Can I second everything that Ellie says- like her I'm fascinated by what transpires on the Politkovskaya front and like her I'd love to be there Thursday. I too admire you for following this through a bit further and would love to hear how it all goes.