A note from the translator: The following article which I have translated from Novaya Gazeta raises a number of very pertinent questions about what exactly was going on at the Beslan tragedy. If true, and I can see no reason to doubt that it is, the Beslan tragedy may be more a crime of state terrorism than Islamic terrorism. The information, collected by Ella Kesayeva, co-chairman of the All-Russian Voice of Beslan Public Organisation, certainly raises some very nasty doubts and suspicions that this is yet another criminally botched Russian secret police operation along the lines of the Moscow flat bombings, the Nord-Ost theatre debacle, the Litvinenko murder, and so on. In my translation below, I have mostly rendered the interminable and semi-mystical acronyms for the various police, state security, and other legal institutions by their Latin letters. Russian bureaucracy, in law-enforcement too, is labyrinthine. I think that for the most part it is sufficient to remember that any acronym with VD in it means “cops” of one sort or another from the Ministry of the Interior and any acronym with FSB somewhere in it means “KGB goon of one sort or another” from the Federal Security Service. The precise body can be ascertained by those who wish to do so by reconverting the Latin letters into Cyrillic.
Terrorists or Agents?
Strange facts about the Beslan Tragedy
by Ella Kesayeva
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
The investigation into the Beslan tragedy is now into its fifth year but no clear answer has yet been provided to one of the main questions: precisely how many terrorists were there at Beslan and who were they? According to the investigators’ version, the terrorist group was composed of 33 people. The identities of most of them were established from their fingerprints. This means that all these terrorists must, at one time or another, have been registered by the North Caucasus regional UBOP and UFSB [anti-organised crime police and KGB, in our parlance], been on the wanted list, been detained or arrested, or in some cases condemned.
In 1997, Vladimir Khodov (pictured, left), from the village of Elkhotovo, committed an act of violence against a female resident of Maikop. A police case (#7154) was created and a warrant for Khodov’s arrest was issued.
In August 1998, the Maikop police department sent a letter to Head of the RSO [Republic of North Ossetia] Kirov ROVD A.P. Tuayev requesting that they be on the look-out for Khodov (Elkhotovo is located in the Kirov Region of North Ossetia). Tuayev replied that “the presence in the area we cover of this wanted person has not been established”.
Nothwithstanding this statement, a number of witnesses have stated that Khodov resided on and off at his registered address (his mother’s house). Thus, in 2002, according to his mother, Khodov came to Elkhotovo for his younger brother’s funeral. Furthermore, he was brought to and from the funeral by republican UBOP policemen. The Khodovs’ neighbours remember the occasion well because there was a scandal at the funeral: Vladimir Khodov, who had converted to Islam, demanded and obtained that his brother be buried with Moslem rites.
In August 2003, the Deputy Head of RSO-Alania MVD UBOP, R.G. Sokhiev, was sent a fax by the Maikop UVD authorising Khodov’s arrest. At the same time, according to a report by Head of RSO-Alania MVD UUR [criminal investigation dept] Goncharov, Sokhiev advised him by telephone that Khodov was indeed in North Ossetia, after which the RSO-Alania MVD sent Sokhiev a fax with a warrant for Khodov’s arrest. However, a check carried out after the Beslan terrorist outrage found that the incoming mail journal of RSO-Alania MVD UBOP had no entry for the receipt of these two faxes authorising V. Khodov’s arrest. Furthermore, the 2003 log of persons held and arrested had pages torn out of it. Pages had also been torn out of the duty officers’ journal for the same period.
In 2003, the Maikop UVD sent a wanted notice for Khodov to the Kirov ROVD. A case note written by Kirov regional prosecutor G.B. Guriyev on 18.11.03 mentions that wanted notices had been issued for Khodov but that “despite investigative work it proved impossible to determine the whereabouts of V.A. Khodov and arrest him”. Sokhiev, the Deputy Head of the North Ossetia UBOP, testified at the Pravoberezhny court hearing on Beslan that: “In January 2004, acting on information received, we located a flat wherein we found information and evidence confirming his [i.e. Khodov’s] involvement in the terrorist attack [Author’s note: the January 2004 explosion at Khamid Bank in Vladikavkaz]. After this he [Khodov] was put on the federal wanted list. But all these documents we collected from us by the FSB. We ceased all investigation after that”.
After the Beslan terror outrage, the investigation requested information on the dead Beslan terrorists who had been identified from RI [Republic of Ingushetiya] MVD. The answer to this request from Head of RI MVD EKTs [crime expertise centre] Khamkhoyev contains the statement that they never held fingerprint data on V. Khodoyev in their database. [See Note 1]. At the RI Supreme Court hearing on the Beslan outrage, witness A.N. Kartoyev (head of the RI Malgobeksky Region FSB) stated the following in evidence: “V. Khodov took part in the 21-22 June 2004 Nazran attack. There were several other people with him. Our department, amongst others – including yours [Author’s note: the Ossetian FSB] – is working on the case…”
Throughout the time he was on the wanted list (from 1997 to 2004), Khodov was officially detained only once – on 19 July 2000 – by the Pyatigorsk UVD. But he was released.
Immediately after the Beslan outrage, RSO-Alania prosecutor Bigulov ordered a review of the work carried out between 1997 and 2004 by RSO-Alania MVD UBOP to locate V. Khodov. Bigulov also demanded a review of “any records of Khodov’s being recruited as a unofficial informer, including any information held by the internal security department on contacts between UBOP and/or Kirov ROVD officers and Khodov”. No reply has to date been vouchsafed to this.
Some further information: In 2003 (when V. Khodov was being hunted so unsuccessfully), Kirov district FSB was headed by Oleg Gaidenko. In June 2004, he was appointed head of the FSB of Pravoberezhny district, of which Beslan is the main town. After the Beslan terrorist outrage, Oleg Gaidenko was not only not fired but was promoted to head of the anti-terrorist section of RSO-Alania UFSB. Two years later, he was transferred into the RF FSB central apparat in Moscow.
In July 2004, First Deputy Head of RF MVD SKM GUBOP Yu.N. Demidov, who had been sent to North Ossetia and Ingushetiya to work on counter-terrorism and the prevention of mass hostage-taking, distributed fingerprint information on a whole group of terrorists to the relevant departments in the two republics. This information included the fingerprints of Vladimir Khodov and Sultan Kamurzoyev (pictured, right).
The files on the Beslan outrage contain a note – signed by Head of RF MVD GITs [Central Information Centre) V.I. Krasavchik – stating that Kamurzoyev was detained by the SO VOVD of Grozny District in 200 and was sent to the Stavropol SIZO (investigation detention centre) on suspicion of having been a member of armed bandit formations. Notwithstanding that, Kamurzoyev was free and at large in 2004 and his body was identified from fingerprints at Beslan.
When asked by the Beslan outrage investigators for materials relating to Kamurzoyev when he was detained in 2000 by Grozny ROVD, this police department sent an extremely strange reply signed by that department’s Officer Arsapkayev: “The relevant log books do not list any crimes or other information with regard to S.M. Kamurzoyev.” Exactly the same answer was given by the Head of Grozny ROVD PVS Yangulbayev: “There are no data on citizen S.M. Kamurzoyev”.
Adam Poshev (pictured, right) is another of the terrorists identified from his fingerprints at Beslan. He was a resident of Malgobek (Ingushetiya) and was described by the Head of Malgobek ROVD MOB (public safety police) M.K. Muruzhev as a “person of suspicious behaviour and adherent of the Wahabbist religious tendency”.
This description is dated 2 August 2004. The investigation has not been able to discover for whom and why this description was written. The Ingush police had a record, however, of Adam Poshev’s fingerprints from back in May 2001. Poshev’s fingerprint record card was sent to the Beslan investigators by RSO-Alania MVD UBOP Deputy Head Sokhiev. Which is strange. Adam Poshev never resided and according to official data was never detained by RSO-Alania MVD officers. He was also not on any federal wanted list.
Khisrail Khansoltanovich Akhmedov lived in Bilty village in the Nozhai-Yurtovsky district of Chechnya. His fingerprints were taken by the Chechen Republic UVD when he was arrested. A little while later he was free again and was put on the federal wanted list by the selfsame UVD Chechnya under Art. 208 Section 2 of the RF legal code. The Beslan case materials contain a note to this effect signed by Head of RF MVD GITs [Central Information Centre) V.I. Krasavchik.
Not long before the Beslan tragedy, on 8 June 2004, Mairbek Shebikhanov, aged 20 and a resident of the Ingush village Psedakh (pictured, right), was on trial for attacks on Russian military personnel. According to the prosecution, Shebikhanov was deputy commander of an armed bandit grouping. In one attack during which a vehicle was blown up, six Russian soldiers were killed and seven wounded, some gravely. The jury at his trial in the Supreme Court of Ingushetiya found him not guilty. He was freed and on 3 September 2004 his body was among those dead terrorists found and identified from fingerprint records.
According to the investigation, two Tsechoyevs, Mussa Iskhakovich (pictured, left) and Beial Bashirovich (pictured, below right), took part in the terrorist outrage. In 1995, the Moscow City Court had condemned both Tsechoyevs to long terms of imprisonment for taking the Muscovite A.S. Agafonov hostage.
The Tsechoyevs did not, however, entrain for Siberia. From Moscow they were transferred by RF FSB officers to Chechnya [see Note 2], allegedly in exchange for Russian citizens held hostage by the militants. Once there, they were set free. Later, according to testimony from Malgobek ROVD officers, one of the Tsechoyevs (Mussa) became leader of a group of armed militants. In 2003, he was detained and turned over to the Malgobek ROVD. His fingerprints were taken. No explanation has been given as to how come Tsechoyev came to be found at liberty again. Tsechoyev was wounded in summer 2004 not long before Beslan during a special operation. He got away.
During the 2004 special operation on which Mussa Tsechoyev was wounded Ingush law enforcement officers took two fighters – Medov and Atayev (pictured, left) – prisoner. This fact was confirmed in the Supreme Court of Ingushetiya (one of the three courts involved in the Beslan affair) by B. Kh. Evloyev, the head of the Malgobek district criminal investigation department: “We encountered a group of armed fighters led by Tsechoyev and detained two of their number on 28 August 2004. These two, Medov and Atayev, later took part in the attack on Beslan. They confessed fully that they took part in the Ingush warehouse attack [ the 22 June 2004 attack on Nazran] and that they were members of Tsechoyev’s group.
Well, well, well! Both Medov and Atayev (later identified from their fingerprints after the Beslan attack) were released without charges being brought against them in August 2004. Why? When Yevloyev was posed this question, he replied that “yes, they were released but that this was not a question that should properly be directed to him”. Presiding Judge Gazdiyev directed the question to the prosecutor. No explanation, however, was provided by the representative of the prosecutor’s office, Dmitrienko.
In 1999, Isa Torshkhoyev (pictured, left) was put on the wanted list on suspicion of having committed crimes under Articles 162 Part 3 (affray) and 222 Part 1 (illegal acquisition and keeping of weapons) of the RF Criminal Code. Isa Torshkhoyev was arrested by the Tersky (Kabardino-Balkaria) ROVD SO [criminal investigation branch]. He was, however, only given a 2-year suspended sentence for the Article 222 offence. During the Beslan investigation it was established that “I.D. Torshoyev was groundlessly neither charged nor sentenced for offences under Article 162 Part 3 of the RF Criminal Code whilst his accomplices all received 8 years imprisonment with confiscation of property for the same.” During the search of Torshkhoyev’s house, the following were found: “a rifle with optical sights and rounds for the same; a pistol and silencer with serial number removed and rounds for the same; F-1 grenades – 3 pcs; gas-discharge Makarov-type pistol converted for firing. All removed items were ready for use.” Torshoyev, however, claimed in court that the weapons “had been planted on him by someone”. The court found his evidence credible and also took into account that Torshkhoyev was “only 19 years old and had a head injury”. The court did not send the weapons for ballistic tests to see whether they had been used in any killings.
It should be added that Torshkhoyev’s accomplices were soon released on parole. More importantly, they did not register with the police at their places of residence as parolees yet for some reason no warrants for their arrest for this offence were ever issued.
According to the investigation’s version of events, two Kulayev brothers took part in the Beslan hostage-taking – Khanpasha and Nurpasha. It will be recalled that Nurpasha Kulayev (pictured, right) was the only Beslan terrorist to be captured alive. We have tried on numerous occasions to get the investigators to release the transcripts of his interrogations and to discover by whom, how, at what time and in what circumstances N. Kulayev was seized. The point here is that the official version (that Kulayev jumped out of the dining-room window of the Beslan school at 13:30 on September 3rd) is evidently untrue. At that time, the dining-room window was protected by a grating which was pulled out by means of a tank and cable. That, however, was done after 16:00 on September 3rd. This was the window through which the FSB spetsnaz entered the school. Strange to say, the complainants’ request was partially granted. Nearly four years after the terrorist outrage, the prosecutors undertook to QUESTION the men who captured Kulayev!
Khanpasha Kulayev was charged in 2001 under Article 208 Section 2 of the RF Criminal Code (membership of an illegal armed formation of more than three people). However, the RF FSB investigator for the Chechen Republic D.A. Filippenko had the case against Kh. Kulayev registered separately (Criminal case #108/28) and in December 2001 decided to close it “in consequence of changed circumstances in that [Kh. Kulyev] has ceased to present a danger to society” and instructed the prosecutor’s office to “cancel the measures selected for the control of Kh. Kulayev [detention].”
The Chechen prosecutor’s office tried to object to the FSB investigator’s ruling. It appealed against it but matters went no further than that. According to the case documents, the prosecutor’s appeal against the release of Kulayev from detention was not reviewed in an appeal court. And in August 2004 Kh. Kulayev took part in the seizure of the Beslan school.
The 33rd Terrorist
Many of the hostages testified during the investigation of and hearings on the Beslan school outrage that they could not recognise the dead terrorists they viewed as those they had seen during the siege of School #1. The complainants insisted that they be given the opportunity to view photographs of the terrorists taken while they were still alive. Despite the fact that the investigation did have such photographs, they were never made available to the complainants.
The former hostages most frequently mention as missing from the dead a terrorist who went by the name of Ali. This Ali was of below average height, with a terrible scar running from his ear to under his chin. He had played a highly visible part in the events and even held negotiations with the representative of the operational HQ, an Ossetian UFSB officer named Zangionov. Ali’s body was not among the dead. The complainants guessed that he might have got away from the school. Judging from prosecution investigator I. Tkachev’s question and the reply to it from acting RSO-A USFB Head V. Levitchenko, the investigation was also not certain that terrorist Ali was dead.
“As a result of our active investigative work to establish the identity of one the terrorists who took part in the hostage seizure in 1.09.2004 in Beslan and who had, according to witnesses among the complainants, a visible scar from his nape to his neck, our enquiries led us to on Ruslan Diryasov, nicknamed Direz, Moslem name Seifula, born around 1976 in the village of Samashka.
According to investigation data for the period 2000-2002., R. Diryasov was a member of a bandit grouping commanded by Ramzan Ibragimov. Another member of the group was R.T. Khuchnarov [leader of the Beslan terrorists in August 2004]. A close contact of R. Diryasov’s was Rustam Makhauri (nickname Medved) of Assinov village, who was also a member of the band. In 2002, R. Diryasov is said to have been detained in the Achkho-Martinovsk district by RF UFSB officers for Chechnya but was released soon thereafter.
Joint investigations together with RF UFSB for Chechnya were unable to establish if R. Diryasov was resident in the Sunzhensky and Achkha-Martonovsk districts…”
The case papers on the Beslan terrorist outrage have data sheets on each identified terrorist. The “Criminal Record” column of these sheets has the entry “No criminal record pursuant to Article 24 Para 1 Part 1 RF Criminal Code” for each and every Beslan terrorist.
This means that criminal proceedings against these people were either deliberately not raised or stopped. All for the same reason: “absence of criminal activity”. In this way, criminals who should really have been in pre-trial detention or doing time were able without let or hindrance in August 2004 to put together an armed band and carry out the attack on the Beslan school. [See note 3].
How can this have been possible? The only explanation I can suggest is that the so-called Beslan terrorists were agents of our own special forces – UBOP and FSB. That is the only conclusion one can draw from what is known of their lives as detailed above.
Who knows the Answers?
In fact, all and any questions should be addressed Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs General Mikhail Panov and former FSB Deputy Director General Anisimov. Both these people played active parts in the anti-terrorist operation in Beslan as highly placed “consultants”. Both were responsible for organising agent networks in the Caucasus. Neither, despite the insistent demands of the complainants in the Beslan terrorist case, has been called to testify in court.
Note 1. They did hold fingerprint data. See next section: Terrorist Kmurzoyev
Note 2. This information is to be found in the criminal case documents.
Note 3. The usual practise in North Caucasus law enforcement if for anyone falling into the hands of investigaotrs even merely on suspicion of terrorirst activity to be given very long sentences. Such people do not stand the lightest chance of being set free, however innocent they are. This absolute principle seems not have been working in the case of the Beslan terrorirsts.