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candlelit vigil for Anna Politkovskaya

9th October 2006

Dear all
this was received from the English PEN club via a member. I have also
been in contact with the Frontline Club (for journalists) and they are
letting me know if they have an evening or a talk dedicated to Anna
Politkovskaya. I will keep you informed.

Best wishes


Remembering Anna Politkovskaya

Candlelit vigil, 6:30-7:30 Tuesday 10 October

Opposite the Russian Embassy

I am sure that all English PEN members were shocked and distressed to hear
about the murder of Russian journalist and author Anna Politkovskaya on
Saturday, and will want to mark their solidarity with her. Politkovskaya,
who was called ‘Russia’s lost moral conscience’, won the first English PEN
Writers in Translation award for her furious study of Putin’s Russia. No
Russian publisher dared touch the book. In an unpublished essay to be
included in the forthcoming English PEN/Profile anthology, Another Sky,
she wrote: ‘I am a pariah. You don’t get used to this, but you learn to
live with it.’

She had lived with death threats for seven years, but continued to dig
deeper into the ongoing human rights abuses in Chechnya. At the time of
her death she was researching allegations of torture. She had refused
invitations to leave Russia, saying: ‘The main thing is to get on with my
job, to describe the life I see, to receive visitors every day in our
editorial office who have nowhere else to bring their troubles, because
the Kremlin finds their stories off-message, so that the only place they
can be aired is in our newspaper, Novaya gazeta.’

She was not a political animal, and refused invitations to stand for the
Duma. Her own words in Another Sky provide the best insight into why she
continued writing, her remarkable stamina and her extreme courage: ‘I have
merely reported what I have witnessed, no more than that. I have written
and, less frequently, I have spoken. I am even reluctant to comment,
because it reminds me too much of the imposed opinions of my Soviet
childhood and youth. It seems to me our readers are capable of
interpreting what they read for themselves.’

In the words of Carole Seymour-Jones, Chair of English PEN’s Writers in
Prison Committee, Anna Politkovskaya was ‘a martyr to free speech’.

A candlelit vigil will be held opposite the Russian Embassy on Tuesday
October 10, from 6:30 to 7:30. This is being organised by Armorer Wason
(07050 193068) and Svetlana Palmer (07939 567802), who have obtained
permission from Kensington police for a peaceful vigil. They urge anyone
who wishes to mark their solidarity with Anna Politkovskaya not to use
this as an opportunity to make a political point, but to hold a dignified
and restrained vigil in her memory. Please bring candles and jam jars and
congregate outside the Champion Pub on the corner of Bayswater Road and
Wellington Terrace.

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