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AEJ Newsletter from Berlin

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The Week

by Edward Steen, Sec-Gen, in Berlin July 7, 2023

Women are increasingly on the frontline of news-gathering, and suffering for a profession best described as “finding out stuff certain people don’t want anyone to see in the papers”.

First Lady Michelle Obama presents Elena with Women of Courage Award, Washington 2013

Work at that dangerous frontline resulted, inter alia, in a brutal attack in Chechnya against journalist Elena Milashina, 46, and lawyer Alexander Nemov. Medusa revealed what she looked like after being shorn of her hair and beaten up. 

Flown to hospital in a private jet paid for by “private individuals” in Moscow, Elena was diagnosed with a closed brain injury, a dozen hand fractures, and soft tissue contusions, according to her paper, the independent Novaya Gazeta. Russian state media report that a criminal case has been opened, which does not appear to be the case.

In Ukraine, war crimes investigator Victoria Amelina, 37, succumbed to her injuries after the Russian missile attack on a pizza restaurant in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine. An acclaimed novelist and poet she explained at the start of the war that she felt the time was not right for fiction. But storytellers were needed more than ever:

“War erases stories: war criminals kill, then hide the evidence in hopes that the world will never learn even their victims’ names,” she said in an interview. “After liberating each town, Ukrainians work hard to recover the names of the dead, bury them with dignity, and tell the world their stories. Often we succeed, but not always.

“As I write this, on my way to Izyum [Kharkiv region], to document war crimes, the occupiers may well be destroying the evidence of genocide in Mariupol. Despite all our efforts, too many stories will never be known. As a human rights activist, I document war crimes and advocate for justice. Yet, as a writer, I know there are wounds only stories can heal.”

Meanwhile, the crazily violent and obscure grand guignol of former hot-dog salesman and minor crook, now billionaire war criminal, Yevgeny Prigozhin, versus Vladimir Putin continues. It remains unclear where he is, or whether his Wagner Group is really being closed down.

Reuters has done its best to unravel the story, and the involvement of former chicken farmer and border guard, now the Belarussian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, 68,, who is said to have brokered a peace deal between Prigozhin and Putin after the interruption of the Wagner Group’s interrupted march on Moscow. But where is the man dubbed, once, Putin’s chef”? 

In Moscow, Prigozhin’s villa was raided and stripped (supposedly) of numerous weapons as well as disguises he had adopted – but he was also handed back several million dollars in cash and gold bars. His home looks most comfortable in the FSB video

Reality has become less credible than fiction, hardly for the first time in the twilight episode of the once-obscure junior spook Vladimir Putin and his quarter-century rule over his homeland, and his ambitions to recreate the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile in the AEJ

Here in Berlin, the AEJ Board is about to start its deliberations on, inter alia, the arrangements for the October 25 to 29 Congress to be held in Vlorë, Albania. More on this soon with invitations.

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