If the J-curve is a useful way of describing the balance between openness and stability, then the murder of the crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya was another despressing sign that Russians who try to push their country in the direction of more openness are often risking their lives.
The killing of Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the Kremlin and its local proxies in the conflict in Chechnya, was the second assassination of a crusading figure in Moscow in less than a month. In September, Andrei Kozlov, a central banker who targeted corrupt banks, was gunned down as he left a soccer match in the city. That case remains unsolved.
The Washington Post’s lead editorial for Sunday says:
…Politkovskaya… knew it was dangerous to be an honest reporter in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Yet, as he wielded a combination of blandishments and bullying to gradually reimpose authoritarianism on his country, Ms. Politkovskaya, 48 and the mother of two, never yielded. Whether reporting on Mr. Putin’s dirty war in the separatist region of Chechnya or on the diminution of freedom at home in Moscow, she remained, if not unafraid, unbowed.