Ten years ago Friday , Anna Politkovskaya, Russia’s most famous journalist, was murdered in Moscow. Her death serves as a window to Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin autocrat whom many Americans are looking at for the first time — his name now in U.S. election headlines as a result of alleged hacking of Democratic National Committee servers by Russian actors and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s praise of Putin’s strongman rule.
Politkovskaya was known throughout the world for her reporting on the second Chechen war, a conflict Putin pursued with the same ruthless brutality that he is using today in Syria, an approach U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power described as “barbarism.”
Only an utterly fearless journalist such as Politkovskaya would dare to visit war-torn Chechnya in the North Caucasus. Showing astounding bravery, she brought the lesser-known war to the world’s attention, documenting murders, kidnappings, torture and the destruction of whole villages. Her investigative reports even resulted in the initiation of more than 20 criminal cases in Chechnya.