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Russia Has Forgotten Beslan

Published: September 3, 2014 (Issue # 1827)




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With theongoing flood ofnews out ofUkraine, Russia has almost completely forgotten about theNorth Caucasus. The10-year commemoration ofthe Beslan hostage crisis might serve as asad reminder.

Ten years ago, onSept. 1, 2004, during thefirst bell celebration marking thebeginning ofthe school year, agang ofarmed militants burst intothe schoolyard ofSchool No. 1 inBeslan, North Ossetia.

They herded more than 1,000 people including theelderly andchildren ofall ages intothe school building andannounced that they would hold them hostage until Russia withdrew its troops fromChechnya.

Two days later, onSept. 3, Russian Special Forces stormed thebuilding. Inthe ensuing battle, some ofthe militants homemade bombs exploded, ablaze broke out andgovernment troops unleashed gunfire toward thebuilding.

Theresult: 334 people died andmore than 700 were wounded, atleast two ofwhom were later added tothe list offatalities.

Inthe initial weeks after thetragedy, many wondered how adetachment ofmilitants who, according toofficial propaganda, should have been holed up inthe Chechen mountains waiting tobe crushed byRussian troops sauntered intoa neighboring region, seized aschool inbroad daylight andfor two days held more than 1,000 hostages, afourth ofwhom died during thesubsequent rescue operation.

Thefederal authorities gave aparadoxical response. No senior siloviki or public officials atthe federal or local levels lost their jobs, but theRussian people lost their right todirectly elect governors.

Apparently, theKremlin felt that elections were atleast as dangerous as terrorists. Ten years after Beslan, theauthorities reinstated theright toelect governors, though not quite tothe extent it existed prior tothe fall of2004.

Inevery other way andin every other place except thecity itself, Beslan has been forgotten. Ofcourse, officials will pay acourtesy call tothe school this year.

Andas he has done each previous year, North Ossetian head Taimuraz Mamsurov, who has two children who spent three terrifying days among theBeslan school hostages, will escort federal officials tothe memorial cemetery andthe schoolyard monument where they will lay wreaths ofmourning.

Only God knows what thoughts will run through their heads during those minutes ofsilence, but as forthe rest ofthe country, it has forgotten Beslan.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphotos exhibition On Both Sides, chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organizations office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Centers series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this months lessons being visual arts.



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