October 11, 2006
Miami 3.04 p.m.
I saw the pictures of the funeral procession for Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow, the journalist assassinated outside her apartment. A limo and a marching crowd on a blustery day... white carnations in even numbers for the dead.
It reminded me of another October, 12 years ago in Moscow. It was almost the same scene, but colder... some snow I think. The funeral procession that day was for Dmitry Kholodov, a 27-year-old journalist. Both he and Politkovskaya were investigating the Russian war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, in southwestern Russia. Kholodov was investigating corruption among the top levels of the Russian military. He got a tip on some secret information in a briefcase, but the briefcase was really a bomb that blew up and killed him when he opened it.
Some of the people who marched carried large, blown up pictures of Kholodov, who they referred to as “Dima.” His face in the picture was young and thin, fair, straight hair. The picture was black and white. I can still see it. Gorbachev’s advisor Alexander Yakovlev was there. We interviewed him with wet snow blowing around. I expect he said that the murder was a serious blow against freedom of the press in Russia. That’s what they are saying today, 12 years later. I remember Yakovlev walked with a limp from a WWII wound.
My husband is from Uzbekistan. He along with most people of the former Soviet Republics are saddened and unnerved at the spiralling repressions that are growing in Russian, Uzbekistan and other former republics. The hopes that so many had at the fall of "the empire" for a free society and a life without political fear are quickly dying. It's a complicated issue and one that brings much fear to the hearts of those with family there. Thanks for bringing some attention to a bi-line that few seem to notice.
I watched you in Cuba, and thought about October 1962. I am now 55 and I am more worried now about the need to "duck and cover" than I was then. Nice little group meeting — they are what the phrase "thick as thieves" would apply to — and so close to home.
Hope you at least come home with a good cigar.
I started to read your blogs a few months ago and I must admit I have become somewhat interested in what comes next. Your existential style (for lack of a more precise word) has the nuance of someone that has "seen the elephants." Your un-heroic tone when in a deeply crappy place tells me that you are one of the few people in your business that observes well when under fire, an acquired skill that is rare indeed. Don't have too much fun.
Wonder if you saw the geese when you were here in Camp Fallujah. We have 19 geese and one duck. When I was here in Oct 2005 there were 2 geese and 2 ducks and shortly thereafter 3 more geese joined the group. In late Feb some of the geese started laying eggs and when I returned in late June there were 19 geese and only one duck. Well I just found out that some bird Colonel was bitten by one of the geese and now he wants them all exterminated. If he was bitten by a goose then he should not have been hand feeding them which was probably the case as many of the Marines do the same thing. The brass has been looking for an excuse to eliminate these geese for some time and I guess this is the newest twist. What a shame.
Have fun back in the States and hurry back.
Cheers Rich Y.
Camp Fallujah, Iraq
Steve, Please come see us. We are in Mosul at FOB Diamondback.
“US’ being the Army Corps of Engineers. We are civilian employees of the Corps but have military assigned to us....We are now drinking bottled water from out very own treatment plant. GEN McCoy had a journalist travel with him, he saw all the good and all the progress and when he got home he wrote a crappy article about how awful the reconstruction was. Come see for yourself.
Thank you for writing about the daily life in Fallujah. My brother is a SSgt there, and he directed me to your blog. You give me some sliver of an idea of what my brother sees, hears and eats during the day.
This is priceless information for those of us with loved ones there.
I know it is has to be tough, but you should find time to write a book. You have gift. A knack, if you will. Your ability is to convey not just the emotion of a setting but all the small nuances that fill out the story, allowing the reader connect in a way that few journalists have the ability convey.
I just want to say bravo. You give the straight scoop, no bs, no ad-lib -- unbiased reporting. In other words, you do what a reporter is supposed to do. I was in the first Gulf War, and that doesn’t hold a candle to what’s going on now. My brother is on his 4th tour their now, and we couldn’t be prouder of him, and ALL the men, and women in country. It’s great to hear that the Iraqi soldiers are taking more of a lead role, and that the training is starting to pay off, albeit a little slow, but it’s starting to build. I’ll never forget the look on the Kuwaiti’s faces as we rolled in, it was almost like what the Allies saw liberating a Nazi help town, it makes you realize what you’re fighting for. I pray things get better in Iraq, for everyone.