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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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