Moscow: Memorials of roses & photographs mourn outrageous murder of the "unique" Anna Politkovskaya Print E-mail

Monday, October 9, 2006. Issue 3514. Page 2

Flowers and Vysotsky Inside Novaya Gazeta


By David Nowak
Staff Writer

On Sunday, they went back to work. At the newspaper where she once toiled away at articles punching holes in the Kremlin, there was shock and silence one day after Anna Politkovskaya's death.

Throughout Novaya Gazeta, there was normalcy, routine, a smoke-filled editorial meeting, chitchat.

And there was fury, rage and a lot of planning for a special issue celebrating the 48-year-old journalist who made the war in Chechnya her cause celebre.

"She is irreplaceable," the paper's editor, Dmitry Muratov, said after the daily, 2 p.m. editorial meeting. "Even her enemies loved her. They understood that she was working in the interests of the people of Chechnya and, yes, the people of Russia too."

Muratov added: "She was a unique journalist. As with all unique people, there is no one to replace her."

Outside the paper's Chistiye Prudy offices, well-wishers had placed several bouquets of flowers under a black-and-white portrait of Politkovskaya. Someone had left a CD of songs by Vladimir Vysotsky.

Inside, a small memorial to the journalist had been erected in the foyer -- four large photographs of Politkovskaya in her office and in a field, six roses, no words.

On the newspaper's main corridor, photographs of Politkovskaya had been hung between offices.

"That's her office," Vitaly Yaroshevsky, one of the paper's two deputy editors, told a reporter. "You're free to have a look around. She never had anything to hide."

Politkovskaya's desk was a mess. Books and files were piled to the left of a computer monitor. To the right was a colorful gift bag with containers of various prescription medicines inside. There were a few envelopes addressed to the journalist unopened on her desk.

"She managed to stay organized, despite the amount of work she did," Yaroshevsky said. There was no hint of sadness in his voice. "We're all still in shock, obviously."

Later, someone locked up Politkovskaya's office and laid roses outside the door.

The editorial meeting was matter-of-fact. "We should have a large, horizontal picture of her," one editor offered.

"No, it should be vertical," another said through plumes of smoke.

It was as if the journalists were grateful to be distracted by the daily routine of putting a paper to bed.

"It's hard to say whether I feel scared," Yaroshevsky said. "But I have a feeling of emptiness, a feeling of loss."

Andrei Lipsky, the paper's other deputy editor, said: "There are few people in the world who voluntarily turn their professional life into their personal life. With Anna, there was never any distinction. We are all speechless."