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03.09.2010

Beslan Six years on

   

It is six years since the terrorist seizure of School No. 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia (RF) resulted in the death of 333 hostages, more than half of them children.  The terrorists burst into the school during the traditional First Bell, a big occasion which is often attended by many members of a child’s family. 

During the next three days the authorities in Moscow persisted in lying both about the number of hostages, seriously understating the number, and about the supposed lack of demands from the terrorists.

The use of tanks and heavy artillery during the tragic carnage in the early afternoon of 3 September was also not reported in Russia.  One of the allegations since made, yet never investigated openly, is that the explosion which supposedly led the federal troops to open fire was orchestrated by those in power who wanted a storm.

The Russian Service of Radio Svoboda reported on 1 September that relatives of the victims believe that the investigation is not being run in an objective fashion, and is being deliberately dragged out although the facts pointing to implication or innocence have been proven and just need to be acknowledged.

Co-Director of “Mothers of Beslan”, Anneta Gadiyeva:

“For six years we have been saying one and the same thing, yet it all remains as before. None of the facts which were uncovered during the court trial of the sole surviving terrorist Kulayev, none of the testimony of witnesses are taken into account by the investigators. All our applications are mainly rejected. Instead we are told that yet another expert analysis has been scheduled. They need to simply acknowledge that the operations headquarters for saving the hostages did not perform their functions, it allowed that spontaneous storm.”

Member of the Board of Memorial, Alexander Cherkasov suggests that the investigation has not been concluded despite all the testimony, and the trial of the surviving terrorist, because they would need to investigate the actions of the enforcement bodies, and a conflict of interests arises. The Federal Security Service [FSB] carries out anti-terrorism operations and also investigates them. They are interested, he says, in proving they were right, not finding out what actually happened.

Anneta Gadiyeva says that the victims are unable to defend their rights due to the lack of a law on victims of terrorism.

“The children who received serious injuries from the terrorist attack are not protected by the State. There is some kind of one-off assistance from the Republic’s authorities, yet no State programme for helping victims of terrorist attacks (not only ours, but any terrorist acts which have taken place in the Republic and in the country). It is therefore harder and harder to find means for rehabilitation of children and adults. At the present time there is a real need for psychological help also, since time passes and many people cannot cope with all the pain they feel.”

So those who suffered because of the Beslan School attack can count mainly on help from charities. Yet here too they run up against unpleasant situations. The tax services, for example, have demanded that sever dozen Beslan families pay income tax because their children study at the Podmoskovny Lyceum created with the support of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Koralovo (Moscow region). The authorities in North Ossetia helped pay this time, but it is not yet clear what will happen next year.

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