I have hesitated to write about the brutal murder of Anna Politkovskaya.
She was a close friend of friends and I know many people who will be simply stunned at this senseless crime.
Politkovskaya was in a very real sense the conscience of modern Russia. A voice speaking up for tolerance and mutual respect. She was scathing about the failings of the Putin regime, and in Chechnya she had seen the crimes of that regime up close. Her life had been threatened several times, but she had the courage and determination not to give in to the thugs and crooks who now dominate political and economic life in Russia, and especially in the North Caucasus.
Several hundred protestors gathered in Pushkin Square in Moscow to mourn her death. The setting was significant, for it is where dissidents protested during Soviet times.
It is hard not to despair of modern Russia. The casual - and unsolved- killings of Galina Starovoitova and Andrei Kozlov have shown that any independent voice in Russia risks their lives. The bully-boy tactics against Georgia show the Putinistas at their very worst.
Newly assertive abroad, but lawless at home. The bear is still dangerous, but as always the danger is mostly born by its own citizens.