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Monday, October 09, 2006

The jolting death of a mother

As a working mother, I make choices every day. So did Anna Politkovskaya. This weekend, her choices had a horrific result. The headlines around the world read, "Russian journalist and mother of two shot to death."
This was the first I had heard of Anna Politkovskaya. It shouldn't have been. Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist internationally acclaimed for her work exposing her government's human-rights abuses in Chechnya, was found shot to death Saturday inside an elevator at her Moscow apartment building. Politkovskaya's enemies had threatened her with death on numerous occasions and she claimed to have survived a poisoning attempt.
There's little doubt her death was connected with her writing. This 48-year-old mother of two knew her life was in danger on a regular basis. Her specialty was exposing the horror, corruption and chaos wroght on civilian victims of the first war in Chechnya from 1994 to 1996 and the one that followed from 2000 onwards. It has been called, "one of the most dangerous assignments anywhere." It also has been called one of the most important.
What must a mother of two be thinking when she goes to work every day believing in a cause but knowing her work carries a big risk that may take her away from her children -- forever. I don't think I could make the same choice she did. There's something about being a mother, that makes the life-death, work-family decision more difficult. I want to be around to influence my children for many years.
For Anna Politkovskaya, her choices were about more than having a career. I wonder if Politkovskaya ever spoke to her children about her choices, her purpose. I searched the world newspapers to find clues about her children and their reaction to their mother's murder. I learned Politkovskaya was divorced and both her daughter and son are in their early 20s.
I applaud Politkovskaya for understanding the power she held to evoke change as a newspaper reporter. And, while I'm sure her children are proud of their mother, I have to wonder how they feel about her choices. How will her death affect their lives? Most working mothers live with their choices. It's too bad for her children, that Politkovskaya died from hers.

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