A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya Paperback – 21 Jun 2001
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A Dirty War is the harrowing account of Russia's invasion and subsequent decimation of Chechnya--a place with a mixed population, many of whom were themselves Russians. Politkovskaya's reports from the war zone were printed in Novayagazeta, one the few Moscow papers that dared to defy government propaganda. Journalists were denied visas if they were suspected to deliver "anti-Russian coverage" and the dangers of being a free-thinking Russian were tragically illustrated by the murder of the paper's editor, Igor Domnikov, by an unknown assailant armed with a hammer. In a confused and horribly entangled situation, one thing is certain: for people and groups on both sides, the war has been extremely profitable. Black market profiteering has reached obscene and nonsensical proportions. Young, barely trained soldiers, fed on rotten food and with no guarantees of any kind of social security should they return home injured, trade guns and ammunition to those who will certainly sell them on to be turned on their comrades. Kidnapping gangs extort huge ransoms from their victims' families while staying above the law by buying favour with the Russian authorities. But from this chaotic mess, Polikovskaya manages to draw episodes and scenes which manage both to elucidate and humanise the complexity of the war and its many casualties. Refusing to simplistically apportion blame to one side or the other, she shows instead how the corrupt, unwieldy and utterly dispassionate Russian system has allows anarchy and violence to ravage its people. --Rebecca Johnson
"If you haven't done so yet, read Politkovskaya's books: A Dirty War and Putin's Russia" (Independent)
"Read this book to discover the true nature of the Russian state under Putin, a state where corruption, torture and murder are franchised out to his friends and the friends of his friends... Its assault on the Russian state is electrifying" (Observer)
"Politkovskaya chronicles the deathly thud of the Russian war machine and the anguished cries of those crushed in its tread...[She] was awarded Amnesty's prestigious Global award for human-rights journalism. Maybe there is yet hope that the truth will out" (Guardian)
"One of the most respected and feared journalists in the world...Despite death threats, she defied state intimidation with dispatches that investigated the true nature of the Russian occupation and documented atrocities against the Chechen people" (Daily Telegraph)
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Especially nowadays, as Russia seeks to ally with the USA against Muslim aggressors, this book carries much weight.
As somebody noted: "If Tony Blair seeks to eliminate terrorism in Northern Ireland, he does not bomb Dublin to bits and pieces. So why does Putin obliterate Grozny in his fight against terrorists, killing tens and tens of thousands in his path?" That is certainly worth a thought.
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