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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, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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