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Russia Has Forgotten Beslan

Published: September 3, 2014 (Issue # 1827)




  • Photo:

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, 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.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



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