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Report: Beslan HQ Was Run by Others

Published: April 19, 2005 (Issue # 1062)


MOSCOW - Public anger over the handling of last year's Beslan hostage-taking crisis might have been directed at the wrong officials, according to an investigative report published by Novaya Gazeta on Thursday.

The men officially responsible for the botched attempt to rescue hostages - North Ossetian President Alexander Dzasokhov and the head of the republic's branch of the Federal Security Service, Valery Andreyev - were not really in charge, as there was an alternative headquarters set up by senior federal officials to run operations on the ground, the newspaper said.

Citing what it said were official transcripts of investigators' interviews with Dzasokhov, the paper said that in reality it was senior FSB commanders and Kremlin officials who ran the anti-terrorist operation from a third-floor office in Beslan's town hall.

Even some members of the official headquarters - set up to handle the crisis and commanded by Andreyev -were denied access to this shadow task force's war room, the paper said.

Most of the more than 330 hostages who died in the attack on Beslan's School No. 1 died in the intense shootout and fire on the afternoon of Sept. 3, after the authorities said a bomb planted by terrorists had exploded.

The paper published abridged versions of investigators' interviews with Andreyev and Dzasokhov along with the story Thursday, taken from what it said were official transcripts.

Both officials were interviewed by investigators from the North Caucasus branch of the Prosecutor General's Office. Novaya Gazeta reporter Yelena Milashina, who has written extensively from Beslan, said Thursday that she had received copies of the interview protocols sent anonymously by regular mail. She said she believed the documents to be authentic.

An official at the North Caucasus branch of the Prosecutor General's Office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the protocols published by the paper looked "90 percent genuine." In his interview Dzasokhov - who assumed command of the rescue operation in the first hours of the hostage crisis on Sept. 1 - said that deputy FSB directors Vladimir Pronichev and Vladimir Anisimov were directing the anti-terrorist headquarters alongside him.

At noon on the second day of the crisis, Sept. 2, Pronichev showed Dzasokhov a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov appointing Andreyev head of the operation's headquarters, Dzasokhov said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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