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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Politkovskaya

The Russian Parliament is to launch an inquiry into the Beslan school siege, but it is not clear whether it will investigate the role of the security services.

There are many stories about the siege yet to unfold, including separate claims by two Russian journalists, who have been critical of President Putin over Chechnya, that they were poisoned as they made their way to the school.

One of them Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter on the million selling Moscow paper Novaya Gazeta has been ill ever since, but she came to the BBC's Moscow studio to give Newsnight her first broadcast interview.

Kirsty Wark asked why she thought she'd been targeted.


I have a lot of links with Maskhadov's people. My point of view was Maskhadov needed to go to these bandits and say to them openly, please don't do it. Please free all the kids. After midday until evening, of course, I discussed all these details about maybe Maskhadov's future departure to Beslan. In absolutely the open air of mobile phones.

What happened to you when you got on the plane to Rostov?

One boy, I didn't know him, gave me this cup of tea. I drank it and after ten minutes, I began to feel very, very bad. After that I heard only two, three words. The crew beat me on the face and asked me, cried to me, "Please don't die. Don't die." After that I discovered myself in the hospital.

Did anyone say to you that you had been poisoned?

Doctors said God bless you, and you are with us. You were poisoned.

You talk about an information vacuum at Beslan, what exactly do you mean?

Our TV channel gave society only official information. And people, relatives of hostages were out of this information. They were in a vacuum. They didn't know what happened. What would happen in the next minutes, in the next hours.

Is this the Kremlin pressuring the media, or do you think the media are guilty of self-censorship?

My colleagues tried to be only in the way of the official information. It was real self-censorship, but it's only from one hand. In the other hand, the staff administration of the President pushed a lot, during these two days, the hands of mass media.

Do you think the West simply accepts President Putin's policies without criticism?

Putin is very influenced by the Western opinion. He doesn't like to think about society and civil society in Russia, about points of view of civil society here. So, it means that only the West now could change him, could change him from tyranny to democracy.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

Kirsty Wark
spoke to Russian award winning journalist Anna Politkovkaya.


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