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Beslan Children Testify

Published: August 26, 2005 (Issue # 1099)


VLADIKAVKAZ A 10-year-old boy described how a female terrorist threatened to kill children hiding cell phones, and a teenage boy recalled through tears how he urinated into a bottle so younger children could drink.

The children testified Thursday at the trial of Nurpasha Kulayev, the only surviving suspect who participated in the seizure of the Beslan school on Sept. 1-3 last year. At least 331 hostages, half of them children, were killed.

Kulayev went on trial in May, and the first children took the stand Tuesday. Court was in recess Wednesday.

Tearful Beslan parents and neighbors packed the courtroom Thursday, listening to the childrens simple but sincere accounts of the most vicious terrorist attack in Russias modern history.

One of the female terrorists searched us for mobile phones. She told us that if she found a phone on someone, that person would be killed and three more people near him or her would be killed too, Azamat Tebiyev, 10, wearing a green-and-white striped shirt, said as he calmly recounted the ordeal.

Malik Kalchakeyev, 14, speaking slowly and with great detail, then told of how the schoolchildren and their parents were herded into the schools gym, how the attackers stopped providing water and how they taunted the exhausted hostages, often forcing them to stand and sit quickly in the hot, crowded gym.

On the second day, we were all very thirsty. Women told us, the boys, to pee into plastic bottles so that the children could then drink our pee, the boy said, bursting into tears. I peed into a bottle, and small children even babies drank it.

Listen, Kulayev, listen, Judge Tamerlan Aguzarov angrily ordered the defendant, who showed no emotion as he sat in a steel cage with bulletproof glass behind the testifying children.

As the boy tried to stop sobbing, the courtroom spectators, mostly women wearing black clothes and black headscarves, swore at Kulayev. Give this terrorist to us! We will tear the bastard apart! the women shouted.

Journalists, who were not allowed in the courtroom, watched Thursdays proceeding via closed-circuit television in another room of the courthouse.

After several minutes, the boy stopped crying and recounted how he ran out of the smoldering school after two explosions occurred in the gym. As he spoke, he kept his eyes fixed on Kulayev.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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