ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (TFC) – Maria Golovnina Bureau Chief of Afghanistan and Pakistan for the British news website Reuters was found dead in her office in Pakistan on Monday. The cause of death remains unknown, but an autopsy is scheduled for next week.
Officials say Ms. Golovnina arrived at work feeling ill. She vomitted and collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital, but medical teams could not save her. There have been no reports of foul play thus far.
“Empathy wasn’t just a skill she deployed for her craft. It burned in her white hot. It is what sustained her legendary stamina for work, play, and learning,” says friend and colleague Peter Graff.
Golovnina was raised in Japan by Russian expatriates. English, the language she wrote in, was her third language. She joined the Reuters team in 2001, working between London, Singapore, and Seoul.
She covered the early years of Putin’s presidency from 2002 to 2005. During that time she also covered the Moscow theater siege and a spate of bomb attacks by Chechen rebels across the region.
She covered Afghanistan during the 2009 presidential election and later went on assignment to Iraq. She began working as an editor in London in 2010. Maria Spent much of 2011 in Tripoli covering the war in Libya. During her time in Libya she met fellow Reuters Correspondent, Michael Georgy, who recalls Maria’s focus during the NATO bombings, “Downtown, we took great delight in outfoxing [former Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi’s agents so that we could get critical quotes from a terrified population. It was wonderful teamwork and Maria was like a tsunami.”
After a short stint back in London as UK Chief Correspondent, Maria’s curiousity took her back to the Middle East. It turned out to be her final assignment in Pakistan. Editor in Chief of Reuters News, Stephen Adler spoke fondly of Maria, “All of us at Reuters mourn the untimely death of our beloved colleague Maria. She was one of our finest journalists, combining fearlessness with an upbeat enthusiasm that inspired confidence, respect and affection from everyone around her. She will be deeply missed.”
In a world that often hates whistleblowers and journalists more than evil they expose, a dead journalist from a major news outlet stationed in the Middle East raises many questions. Let us hope the future gives satisfactory answers.