Bearing witness

After Anna Politkovskaya’s assassination, a new wave of fearless Russian women reporters emerges

A picture taken on March 17, 2005 shows Russian human rights advocate, journalist and author Anna Politkovskaya. (JENS SCHLUETER/AFP/Getty Images)

After the assassination in Moscow in 2006 of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, many of her colleagues left the profession — scared for their lives amid a crackdown by the Kremlin on independent media. For some  women in the field, however, Politkovskaya’s death seems to have had the opposite effect. According to The Guardian, anecdotal evidence suggests there are now more women than men reporting on the post-Soviet conflict zones, from the North Caucasus to eastern Ukraine, as well as fearlessly focusing on abuses and corruption by authorities.

Elena Milashina, who took over Politkovskaya’s investigations after her death, reporting on forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions and executions, telling the Guardian she is “not interested in writing about flowers.”

“I like to be helpful and find something wrong — that is my nature. I found the best use of this is journalism.”

In April 2012, she was beaten outside her Moscow home and had her laptop stolen — an act she suspects was related to her work although no perpetrators have ever been caught.

The Guardian profile also looks at the careers of Irina Gordienko and Svetlana Reiter. Like Milashina, Gordienko has similarly defied the risk her work in the North Caucasus presents to travel in and out of Dagestan, whose mountains are also known to provide refuge to local militants tied to ISIS. “I can’t abandon these people, that’s why I keep writing about Dagestan. Sometimes there is a hope I can help them,” she says.

Reiter’s investigations have looked at the relationships between businesses and the Russian Orthodox church, the plight of homeless children in Russia, and the state of healthcare. “There is always a balance between a common sense and curiosity in our profession,” she said. “But very often curiosity pushes you forward,” she says.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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