Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was killed two years ago this month, and today the trial of the three men accused of her murder begins in a Moscow military court. I was fortunate enough toÂ interview this fearless, understated woman for Press Gazette a couple of years before she died (you can read it here). She recountedÂ "stories so horrific that oneâ€™s hand refused to jot them downâ€ of the appalling treatment that she witnessed of civilians in Chechnya by the Russian military - treatment of which she had first hand experience.
In fact she refused to talk in great detail about her own "obscene" ordeal at the hands of soldiers in the town of Khottuni because she was still struggling to live with the demons. She was told then that she would be shot - and was taken out into a field in the middle of the night for that apparent purpose -Â but wasÂ reprieved because a group of local people had seen her being taken away and had created enough publicity to unnerve the soldiers involved.
It was a reprieve that was all too short. For despite the fact that she had amassed powerful enemies with her reporting, Politkovskaya continued to be one of the very few journalists to shine a light into the darker corners of Chechen conflict. She continued to put herself very much in harm's way.Â Today's New Statesman pays tribute to Politkovskaya as the trial begins. The fact that it takes place in a military court isn't encouraging for the prospect of real justice.Â Nonetheless it at least means we have another opportunity to remember someone who refused to walk away from what she saw in a clear-eyed way as her job.
"That's our conscious choice," she said. "We're not children. Each person understands the level of the risks they are taking both in their career and their personal life."