A Russian Diary
With a Foreword by Jon Snow
Translated from the Russian by Arch Tait
Published in hardback by Harvill Secker, 27 March 07, £17.99
A Russian Diary is the book that Anna Politkovskaya had recently completed when she was murdered in a contract killing in Moscow. Covering the period from the Russian parliamentary elections of December 2003 to the tragic aftermath of the Beslan school siege in late 2005, A Russian Diary is an unflinching record of the plight of millions of Russians and a pitiless report on the cynicism and corruption of Vladimir Putin’s Presidency.
Politkovskaya interviews people whose lives have been devastated by Putin’s policies, including the mothers of children who died in the Beslan siege, those of Russian soldiers maimed in Chechnya then abandoned by the state, and of ‘disappeared’ young men and women. Elsewhere she meets traumatised and dangerous veterans of the Chechen wars and a notorious Chechen warlord in his heavily fortified lair.
Putin is re-elected as President in farcically undemocratic circumstances and yet Western leaders, reliant on Russia’s oil and gas reserves, continue to pay him homage. Politkovskaya, however, offers a chilling account of his dismantling of the democratic reforms made in the 1990s. Independent television, radio and print media are suppressed, opposition parties are forcibly and illegally marginalised, and electoral law is changed to facilitate ballot-rigging. Yet she also criticises the inability of liberals and democrats to provide a united, effective opposition and a population slow to protest against government legislative outrages.
Clear-sighted, passionate and marked with the humanity that made Anna Politkovskaya a heroine to readers throughout the world, A Russian Diary is a devastating account of contemporary Russia by a great and brave writer.
Known to many as ‘Russia’s lost moral conscience’, Anna Politkovskaya was a special correspondent for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the author of A Dirty War and Putin’s Russia. She was the recipient of many international honours for her writing and human rights work including the Civil Courage Peace Prize and the Olof Palme Prize.
She had put herself in danger by openly challenging the authorities and as a result had been locked in a hole in the ground by Russian troops for three days without food or water, suffered a mock execution, was threatened with rape and poisoned by the FSB on the first flight to Rostov after the Beslan school siege in 2004. She was murdered in Moscow in October 2006. She leaves behind two children. For further information please visit www.randomhouse.co.uk/AnnaPolitkovskaya