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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

Sunday, Jan. 25


Get out your running shoes for the 46th International Road of Life Marathon. Dedicated to the end of the blockade, three runs are offered — 5, 21 and 42 kilometer runs — starting in different places outside the city. Busses leave from 13/1 Arsenalnaya Naberezhny at 8 a.m. but check complete details and registration fees on www.newrunners.ru/race/doroga-zhizni-2015



If you are planning a wedding, head over to the Azimut Hotel, 43/1 Lermontovsky Prospekt from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day includes live music, free dance classes and vendors selling wedding dresses, accessories, cakes and services to help make your special day perfect. Admission is free.



Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.







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