The most dangerous job in Russia

As many kids, I wondered about my future. I imagined myself as a cosmonaut, animal doctor, firefighter or an artist. Once I imagined myself as a journalist. On discovering this my mother became somber, exclaiming “NO, this is too dangerous, they get killed all the time”. I could’t understand how writing was more dangerous than fighting blazing buildings.

After hitchhiking from my home town to Moscow as a teenager, I found myself homeless and after years of this existence, I eventually drifted towards artistic and activist circles. In 2008, when I was 20, I met a very bright and wonderful person called Anastasia Baburova. She was highly educated; fluent in three languages and worked as a journalist for Novaya Gazeta.

Once she witnessed an attack by Neo-Nazis; after which she wrote in her diary, "It is difficult to look in the eyes of a Korean student, who has only just been struck in the temple by two juvenile thugs... they waved 'Sieg Heil' towards the tram and ran off."

This act influenced her political views and since that time she wrote a great deal about the activities of Neo-Nazis, the anti-fascist movement and abuses in law enforcement. She was also driven to be kind to our planet and devoted some of her articles to environmental issues and animal rights.

I was greatly inspired by her work and this strong and brave personality. I was uneducated myself; writing with mistakes even in my native language. Anastasia was a creature of another, better world, while at the same time a very humble and friendly person. These characteristics allowed me to learn immensely from her.

Sadly, our friendship didn’t last. In 2009, in broad daylight Anastasia was shot in the back of the head and killed together with the human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov. She was 25 years old and along with Stanislav had become the victims of politically motivated killings. I was struck with grief and horror.

This is how I learned that journalism is the most dangerous profession in Russia.