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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

Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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