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Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya

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Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya
October 15, 2001 09:55AM
Oct. 12, 2001 - The Moscow Times

Novaya Gazeta Reporter Flees to West
By Yevgenia Borisova, Staff Writer
Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, known for her reporting of human rights abuses in Chechnya, has fled to Vienna after receiving threats on her life.

Politkovskaya said Thursday that she believed the threats were connected to a story she wrote that suggested a military helicopter shot down last month in Grozny had been fired on by Russian troops, not a lone rebel as reported by the army. Ten high-level officers including two generals died in the crash.

Politkovskaya said one of the officers, Lieutenant General Andrei
Pozdnyakov, was on orders from President Vladimir Putin collecting
information about the behavior of federal troops in Chechnya. She spoke with Pozdnyakov while he waited for the helicopter.

"He was supposed to make this report to Putin the next day and was carrying the documents," Politkovskaya said by telephone from Vienna.

The Defense Ministry on Thursday denied that federal troops had shot down the helicopter.

"It is natural that federal troops could not have done so, and in any case they don't have the weapons to shoot a helicopter," a Defense Minister official said.

The ministry has blamed a shaven-headed Chechen rebel in white pants for the attack, saying he ran into Grozny's central Minutka Square as the helicopter lifted off and fired a Stinger-type weapon. The suspect was not captured.

Politkovskaya said the square and surrounding districts were too well
fortified for a rebel to enter and then slip away. "The city was blocked
that day completely," she said Thursday. "It was impossible to get even from one district to another. And they say a rebel shot a helicopter from Minutka?"

The Defense Ministry official said there was no mystery about how the
suspect escaped.

"He shot unexpectedly and apparently knew all the entrances and exits to the square," the official said. "The investigation is still going on."

Politkovskaya said she began to receive threats shortly after her story was published Sept. 20. The newspaper initially provided her with bodyguards and told her to stay at home. Then last week the paper sent her to Vienna.

Vyacheslav Izmailov, a fellow reporter at Novaya Gazeta, said the threats continue to come, the most recent one arriving by e-mail Wednesday. The message was signed "Kadet," he said. Izmailov said threats were being passed to him by "special services," without elaborating further.

Politkovskaya said she is not sure what she will do next.

"I can't work from here, but I think the threats might be coming precisely to keep me away from my work," she said.
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