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Fewer Russians Blame Authorities for Deaths in Beslan Attack

Published: September 2, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • The mother of one of the victims of the Beslan school hostage crisis by the grave of her daughter.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On the 10th anniversary of the Beslan terrorist attack in which more than 330 people died, a poll revealed Monday that fewer Russians think authorities mishandled the crisis than in 2004.

The poll, conducted by the independent Levada Center from Aug. 22 to 25, showed a less critical attitude toward the authorities' response, with only 24 percent of respondents saying authorities had failed to do enough to prevent more casualties. In September 2004, that figure stood at 61 percent.

The Beslan attack sent shockwaves through the entire world on Sept. 1, 2004, when dozens of armed terrorists demanding independence for Chechnya stormed an elementary school and took more than 1,000 people hostage, including many children.

After a three-day standoff, an explosion occurred in the school that the government blamed on the terrorists, though some speculated that a terrorist bomb went off during a botched rescue operation by Russian security services. More than 330 people were killed in the ensuing fire and chaos, 156 of them children.

The results of the latest poll show that skepticism regarding the official version of events has receded in the 10 years since the tragedy, with only 8 percent saying the security services somehow blundered the rescue operation, compared to 17 percent in October 2004. The number of those who pinned the blame for the bloody outcome entirely on the terrorists climbed from 28 percent in 2006 to 39 percent.

Today, the number of those who believe authorities knew the attack was being planned but were unable to prevent it has also declined, from 33 percent in 2004 to 24 percent now. The number of Russians who believe authorities knew it was being planned and did nothing to stop it has more than halved, from 13 percent to 6 percent.

Respondents' views on the Chechen War, which was largely considered a factor in the Beslan attack, have also changed dramatically, according to the poll.

The number of those who believe the war fully succeeded in achieving the government's goals has more than doubled from 8 percent in 2007 — two years after a cease-fire was declared — to 20 percent now. Criticism of the war has also plummeted, with only 21 percent of respondents saying the war was unnecessary and brought about needless casualties, compared to 46 percent in 2007.

The margin of error for the survey was 3.4 percent.

More than 3,000 people visited the ruined school Monday to pay their respects, laying flowers, wreaths and photos of the victims in the courtyard, Interfax reported, citing local police.

The head of North Ossetia, Taimuraz Mamsurov, also visited the school, along with several other members of the regional government.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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