The Wilberforce Medal for 2008 is awarded posthumously for only the second occasion since its inauguration.
Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated in the lift of her Moscow apartment building on 7th October 2006.
Politkovskaya was born Anna Mazepa in New York City in 1958 to Soviet Ukrainian parents, both of whom served as diplomats to the United Nations. She grew up in Moscow, graduated from the Moscow State University Department of Journalism in 1980 and was a citizen of both the United States of America and the Russian Federation.
Having worked for Izvestia from 1982 to 1993 and as a reporter and assistant chief editor of Obshchaya Gazeta from 1994–1999 from June 1999 to 2006, she wrote columns for the biweekly Novaya Gazeta. She published several award-winning books about Chechnya, life in Russia, and President Putin’s regime, including “Putin’s Russia”.
Politkovskaya was widely acclaimed for her reporting from Chechnya and won a number of prestigious awards for her work. She frequently visited hospitals and refugee camps in Chechnya to interview victims of the conflict there.
Her numerous articles critical of the war in Chechnya described abuses committed by Russian military forces, Chechen rebels, and the Russian-backed Chechen administration. Politkovskaya chronicled human rights abuses and policy failures in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia’s North Caucasus in several books on the subject, including “A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya” and “A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya”, which painted a picture of brutal war in which thousands of innocent citizens had been tortured, abducted or killed at the hands of Chechen or federal authorities.