Category Archives: beslan

Putin and Beslan

beslan-91Commenter “Robert” directs our attention to a new report on the Beslan atrocity by John B. Dunlop of Stanford University. 

This research is a clarion call to the Western democracies, a warning they must immediately heed, most of all U.S. President Barack Obama.  His benighted and misguided attitude towards Russia must be reversed immediately.

Here is the report’s conclusion, namely that Russian “prime minister” Vladmir Putin is a brazen liar and a war criminal:

On 1 September 2004, Putin, who had been vacationing on the Black Sea at the resort town of Sochi, returned by plane to Moscow after learning of the hostage-taking incident. Immediately upon his arrival at the airport in Moscow, he held a meeting with the head of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), Rashid Nurgaliev, with the prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov, with the director of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, and with the first deputy director of the FSB and commander of the Russian border-guards, Vladimir Pronichev.  The presence of General Pronichev at this meeting was particularly significant. It was he who had overseen the storming of a theater building at Dubrovka in Moscow in October 2002 in which 174 hostages had perished from the effects of a special gas employed by the FSB.

Following this meeting with his power ministers, Putin, at about noon on the first, placed a call on a special phone to the president of North Ossetia, Aleksandr Dzasokhov. Putin gave Dzasokhov “an [oral] command to hand over the organization of the counter-terrorist operation to the organs of the FSB.”  This account, it should be noted, is in full accord with what Putin told Le Monde in the afore-mentioned interview published in the 1 June 2008 issue of the French newspaper. Putin manifestly had no intention of negotiating with the terrorists and outsourced the decision concerning how and when to storm the school to the FSB and, in particular, to the FSB spetsnaz (special forces) under the command of General Aleksandr Tikhonov. Putin then disappeared from public view until the morning of 4 September when the storming of the school had been completed.

Following the deaths of the 317 hostages (including 186 children), Putin arrived in Beslan at 5:00 a.m. on 4 September. Joined by North Ossetian president Dzasokhov, he went to the district clinical hospital where the two leaders visited all of the rooms containing victims of the assault. Having remained in the hospital for half an hour, Putin then attended a session of the operational headquarters for the liberation of the hostages located in the town administration building.

Looking directly into a camera of state television’s Channel 1, Putin then declared: “We examined all possible variants and did not ourselves plan an action using force. Events developed very quickly and unexpectedly, and the personnel of the special forces manifested particular courage.” This statement was, as we know now, untrue. Then, apparently without visiting the site of the ruined school, Putin returned by plane to Moscow.

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EDITORIAL: Putin the Man, the Myth, the Monster


Putin the Man, the Myth, the Monster

In February of 2006, Roman Kupchinsky of Radio Free Europe wrote an article about about Vladimir Putin’s involvement with the St. Petersburg Mining Instiute, which Kupchisnky called “one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Russia, which traces its history back to 1773.”  He noted that “in 1997 Putin defended his doctoral dissertation examining how natural resources can contribute to regional economies and strategic planning” and then, two years later, wrote an article for the Institute’s Journal in which he continued his dissertation analysis and “posited that hydrocarbons were key to Russia’s development and the restoration of its former power. He argued that the most effective way to exploit this resource was through state regulation of the fuel sector, and by creating large and vertically integrated companies that would work in partnership with the state.”

Oops.  One month later, thanks to the efforts of the left-wing think tank Brookings Institution, the world learned that:

  • The unknown person (or persons) who actually wrote the paper had not really “written” it either, but rather simply copied large sections of it from American textbooks
  • The degree for which the thesis had been submitted was not doctoral but subdoctoral, so Putin was handed a degree he had not even theoretically, much less actually, earned

Ouch.  Given all that, it’s hardly likely that Putin had written the Journal article, either. 

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EDITORIAL: Blasphemy at Beslan


Blasphemy at Beslan

Well, it’s another new low for the neo-Soviet Kremlin of Vladimir Putin.  Surprise, surprise.

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Another Original LR Translation: Beslan and the KGB

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

 Novaya Gazeta

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.

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Latynina on Beslan

Writing in the Moscow Times, hero journalist Yulia Latynina speaks about Russia’s Wiesenthal:

Last week, Senator Alexander Torshin, former head of the parliamentary commission that investigated the Beslan school attack, shared some news about the investigation with Ekho Moskvy radio.

“We are working according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center principle,” Torshin said. “Those who suffered at Beslan are in touch with me.”

Torshin revealed the name of one more terrorist. There were eight unidentified terrorists and now seven remain. “He is from Moscow, from a good family, and he is not a native of the Caucasus,” Torshin said.

This news, which spread across all the Internet sites, truly characterizes our native Wiesenthals who are leading the investigation. The terrorist in question was actually identified way back in April: He is Ilnur Gainullin, born in 1980 and an ethnic Tatar. He is also medical school graduate and a resident of Moscow. But our diligent Wiesenthals never released his name, as if it were a state secret.

Enough about Gainullin. What I really want to know is who was the ringleader of the Beslan attack and where is this person now?

This is not idle curiosity on my part. As early as Sept. 1, 2004, the first day that the Beslan school was taken hostage, Ali Taziyev was mentioned as one of the leaders. He is also known as Magomed Yevloyev, or Magas, and is the right hand of former Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who was killed in 2006. Among other things, Magas orchestrated the June 22 attack on Nazran.

Magas was declared dead on Sept. 3. And two years after the murder of Ingush Deputy Interior Minister Dzhabrail Kostoyev, the Interior Ministry said Magas was Kostoyev’s killer. Within several days, Basayev appointed Magas to command the Ingush front.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has always maintained that there were 32 terrorists, and that they drove in on a GAZ-66 truck — which, by the way, cannot hold more than 25 people — from a camp near the village of Psedakh. Independent experts, witnesses and hostages all confirm that there were, in fact, two groups of terrorists, and that the first group was already at the school when the second group arrived by truck.

At first glance, it would seem that the prosecutors’ motive in insisting that there were 32 terrorists was to convince the public that none of them escaped alive. (The bodies of 31 terrorists were recovered. The 32nd, Nurpashi Kulayev, was captured and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.)

But the real reason is more sinister. The group of terrorists coming from Psedakh was led by Ruslan Khuchbarov, otherwise known as “the Colonel.” If this is the case, then who commanded the second group? The answer: Magas.

This leads to the dreadful question of who was in charge — Taziyev or Khuchbarov? This is a very difficult question because, according to the picture emerging from the investigation, it was Khuchbarov who handled negotiations with federal troops and delivered the terrorists’ demands. This is in an important argument — although it is not the only one — suggesting that Khuchbarov was the chief terrorist. Another is that, according to the hostages’ accounts, the man calling himself Ali left the school before the troops moved in. That is, he bailed out once it became clear that events had turned against him. This suggests that in such situations the top terrorist commander can abandon the scene to protect himself so that he can fight future battles.

In any case, one thing is clear: Either the chief terrorist in the Beslan attack or the leader of one of the two groups is currently leading the insurgents in Ingushetia. I think that acknowledging this fact is far more important than establishing the identity of Gainullin.

The Sunday Sacriledge, Part II: Putin Crushes the Mothers of Beslan

The Moscow Times reports:

A court has ordered the Voice of Beslan, a group critical of the government’s handling of the 2004 terrorist attack, to disband, and its activists started a hunger strike in protest Thursday.

“The decision was made by the authorities because our organization is fighting for the right to have a fair investigation of what happened in Beslan,” group founder Ella Kesayeva said by telephone.

North Ossetia’s Supreme Court ordered the Voice of Beslan to disband Wednesday, upholding a lower court’s ruling that Kesayeva was not the group’s leader. Vladikavkaz’s Leninsky District Court ruled in August that Marina Melnikova, a former member of the group who filed a lawsuit claiming to be the leader, should replace Kesayeva.

Melnikova could not be reached for immediate comment.

The Voice of Beslan tried to get around the lower court’s decision by changing its status from being a North Ossetian organization to a Russian organization. But the court refused to recognize the new group because it had not reregistered with the authorities. Kesayeva said the group had no intention of registering. “This would give the authorities the right to check into the group’s activities,” she said.

Kesayeva and three other Beslan mothers started the hunger strike and a picket outside the North Ossetian Supreme Court on Thursday. “We have decided to start a hunger strike to make our voices heard,” Kesayeva said.

The Voice of Beslan was formed two years ago by relatives of the victims of the 2004 hostage taking, which ended with the death of more than 330 people, more than half of them children.

Putin Forgets All About Beslan

The Moscow Times reports:

A dog plays with a kitten, scattering their meal of meat and macaroni over the entrance. An armed security guard looks on and laughs. The walls are covered with dark mold, and the plaster is peeling off. Patients walk carefully, trying to avoid gaping cracks in the well-worn, wooden floor. Beds are placed centimeters apart, and the old doors do not close all the way to provide privacy. The toilets are easy to find. Just follow the smell.

“Welcome to Beslan’s hospital,” said Savely Torchinov, a surgeon, while giving a reporter a tour of the town’s only hospital.

It was here that survivors were taken after the terrorist attack at Beslan School No. 1 in 2004. The hospital looks much the same today as it did then, and some former hostages are still undergoing treatment here for injuries sustained in the attack.

“It’s shocking, isn’t it?” Torchinov said.

He opened the door to the nurses’ room — a narrow space where the sweet aroma of coffee that the nurses were drinking mixed with the pungent smell of disinfectant. On a small trolley, opposite the refrigerator, surgical instruments could be seen through a threadbare cloth covered with brownish stains. Torchinov said fewer people might have died in the school attack if they had received first aid promptly. The hospital was unprepared to cope with the hundreds of injured hostages after a three-day standoff at the school ended in gunfire and explosions on Sept. 3, 2004, he and other staff said. After receiving initial treatment at the hospital, the patients were sent to better-equipped facilities in Vladikavkaz, the North Ossetian capital, about 20 kilometers away, and Moscow. Around 1,200 people were held hostage in the school, and about 330 died, more than half of them children.

President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beslan on the night of Sept. 4 and he “nearly broke his neck” when he tripped on a crack in the wooden floor on the second floor, Torchinov said. The president was so shocked that he ordered that 6.2 million rubles ($240,000) in federal aid be allocated to renovate the hospital. The local government promised another 8 million rubles ($320,000).

LR: Only $240,000 from a country rolling in oil profits to a region whose population of children has been decimated in the most horrible way imaginable? Is that Putin’s idea of generosity?

But little appears to have been done to improve the hospital, and the situation looks unlikely to change. Torchinov and other people who have raised questions about the hospital said they had been threatened with the loss of their jobs and arrest. Torchinov was one of the few people in Beslan who agreed to allow his name to be printed for this report; others said they feared reprisals.The hospital denied wrongdoing, and the local prosecutor refused to comment.

LR: An after his pathetic, puny promise, no action whatsoever. And this man is considered a great leader? Putin thought NOTHING about Beslan before the attack, and immediately forgot about it afterwards. He’s a monster.

Torchinov, a surgeon at the hospital for 22 years, is currently without work after a court found him guilty of negligence in the death of a patient and suspended him from practicing for 18 months. But Torchinov, who calls the case politically motivated, had no problem visiting the hospital on a recent afternoon. Doctors, nurses and even the guard greeted him as he showed the reporter around. On Sept. 3, the last day of the terrorist attack, Torchinov made sure that his daughter Laima, who was among the hostages, was safe. Then he rushed over to the hospital, organized a makeshift operating room, and started operating. “I operated in a narrow space between two sinks and close to the window to get some light. Not only could I not see anything because I had no surgical lamps, but I also could hardly move. There was no space,” he said. “My first patient was a girl of 13 or 15. She had a bad cut on her stomach, and I operated on her in such conditions, close to the window to get the light of the sun. Military surgeons usually work in better conditions,” he said.

Doctors operated on people right on hospital gurneys, and anesthesia was given with obsolete equipment. The single new device was not enough for all the wounded. “We lost so many people because of all that,” Torchinov said. “Things were different than what the media showed. It was complete chaos.” Torchinov and his colleagues said the authorities had ample time during the two days before the standoff ended to prepare for the wounded. “They could have set up field hospitals and brought modern equipment from other cities. They had two days after all, but nobody cared,” one doctor said. “We didn’t have enough medicine, and some people died because there were no spare oxygen tanks.” Torchinov said a federal special forces officer died because he needed an arterial specialist and the Beslan hospital had none. He said the officer died waiting for the specialist in Vladikavkaz. “We could have saved more lives. It was terrible,” the other doctor said. The authorities organized only four operating rooms, and the doctors set up three more.

After Torchinov started complaining about the way the aid had been organized and that promised funding for the hospital had not materialized, he was accused of malpractice in 2006. Beslan’s prosecutor accused Torchinov of leaving a piece of gauze inside the abdomen of a woman he operated on last year. She later died. Torchinov spent 1 1/2 months in detention before North Ossetia’s top court convicted him and suspended from practicing for 18 months. Torchinov accused the hospital administration of being in cahoots with the prosecutor and called the case a politically motivated attempt to silence him. “Everyone in the hospital thinks that,” agreed Alan Aderkhayev, an anesthetist at the hospital. “The accusations are just absurd,” Aderkhayev said. “Most people agree with Torchinov, but they don’t talk because they are afraid.” Aderkhayev did not tend to hostages in 2004 because he was dealing with a more personal grief. His wife and daughter died in the attack.

The head of the hospital, Vyacheslav Korginov, denied that the administration had unfairly targeted Torchinov. “A commission of experts said the woman’s death was Torchinov’s fault. It was for the prosecutor’s office to decide and not me. There is nothing political here,” Korginov said. Beslan prosecutor Alan Batagov refused to comment on the case, saying he could not discuss it with someone he did not know. Korginov defended the hospital’s treatment of the hostages. “Our work was really appreciated,” he said. He said the hospital had received the promised federal and regional funds after the attack. He also said government auditors had found no problems during regular checks of the hospital books. Korginov acknowledged, however, that the hospital needed improvements. “We need a renovation, but other hospitals need this too. This is normal,” he said.

Susanna Dudiyeva, head of the Beslan Mothers’ Committee, a nongovernmental organization that supports former hostages and their families, said she could not understand why the hospital remained in a dilapidated state in a town that was flooded with cash and gifts from around the world after the attack. “Everyone helped us. Our hospital should be perfect. Why is it in such a pitiable condition?” she said.