Thursday, 4 October, at 3 p.m. local time the mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni opened the piazza after Anna Politkovskaya in the largest and nicest park of the city named Villa Pamfili. While being official, the ceremony was warm and humane. The mayor – who has great influence and enjoys people’s respect and confidence – spoke long and heartfelt. He spoke naturally and without standard clichés. It was his personal message to the capital’s inhabitants.
A Russian poet Brodsky used to say that poetry and politics only have in common two initial letters. For Russian politicians even these two letters do not coincide, as they avoid being plain men. But when the mayor of Rome spoke, it sounded like a poet was speaking, and not a politician. He said that Anna was brave and free, she wrote precisely and for certain, she didn’t like to comment as she considered it that the facts must speak for themselves. The mayor said that Anya could see and write. She saw reality what it was. She could see the truth and describe it best. She wrote about the weak and about those who suffer. And not only she wrote, but also tried to do something to lessen their pains. She did so in Chechnya, in Nord-Ost. She wanted to do it in Beslan, but she was poisoned on her way there. She wrote about tortures in prisons, about the war and about curtain of silence. She broke the rules which are hard to break. She lived a passionate, hard and risky life, the mayor said. After a few seconds of silence, he said “When a journalist is killed, it’s only done to make the journalist silent. But we mustn’t be silent when the journalist is killed. We will do our best so that Anna Politkovskaya’s name is inseparably connected to our city. We will speak of Anna and remember her. ”
The slab gets unveiled and the piazza is open. The inscription on the slab says (word-for-word translation) “Piazza after Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006). Russian journalist. Witness of Freedom and Human Rights Worker.”
Later the reporters approach Anna Politkovskaya’s daughter, Vera. There are a lot of them. Then Vera and I think how to translate the inscription on the slab. We decide to stick on to the word-for-word translation. We do not change “worker” for “fighter” or “champion”. Anna really was a worker, a doer. She did the good. By the way the word “poetry” comes from the Greek “poiesis” which means “doing”. Anna not only gave evidence of what she saw, she really was a witness of freedom, she knew what it was, and she had strong feelings towards freedom.
…The park looks very nice. There are big trees. There a lot of people.
A famous Italian actress Otavia Piccolo approaches us. Saturday 6 October she would play in a performance in memory of Anna.
People are coming and coming. All is done quietly and stately, being at the same time delicate and unobtrusive.
P.S. The Mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni presented Vera Politkovskaya and the Novaya Gazeta with the Medals of Rome.