Opinion and Editorial

Facing Beslan facts

Filed on September 4, 2005

ONE YEAR after the tragedy of Beslan school siege that took nearly 331 lives, most of them children, President Putin of Russia has ordered prosecutors to investigate ‘official failings’ in handling the crisis. If the belated probe is a little surprising, more surprising is the admission by the Russian leader that the state failed to protect its citizens.

Unfortunately, however, having denied the mothers of the innocent children who died in the tragedy an audience with himself for one whole year, the Russian leader still couldn’t bring himself to face the simple and plain truth, as we understand it. He has blamed everyone except himself for the Beslan tragedy.

While admitting that Russia failed to protect its people, Putin argued that no state today is in a position to protect its citizens citing the example of 9/11. Then predictably he went on to blame the tragedy on the disintegration of Soviet Union, which has been his favourite and tested excuse for everything that is wrong with Russia today.

About time the Russian leadership faced the reality of Beslan tragedy and why it took place. The relatives of those killed in the siege are angry not only because the authorities were incredibly inept in dealing with the crisis but also because the tragedy was fallout of the Kremlin’s mishandling of situation in Chechnya. While nothing can end the pain of those who lost their loved ones in the siege, it would help prevent recurring of such tragedies in the future if the Russian leadership confronts the Chechen question through dialogue. Peace in the Caucasus can bring peace to the rest of Russia.

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