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» 09/03/2005
RUSSIA
Beslan mothers 'believe' in Putin's promises
Russian President says that he does not yet have any answer for the 'hard questions" the mothers made in the Kremlin but assures them that "the truth shall be revealed".

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Putin admitted the authorities were at fault in the Beslan tragedy. But he also pledged that the truth shall come out and the mothers of the victims said they "believe" him.

Back from Moscow where she met President Putin for the first time, Susanna Dudiyeva, head of Beslan Mothers' Committee, said that talking with the President was "difficult and hard" but that the visit was "another step in the fight for truth and justice".

Vladimir Putin had invited 20 people to the September 2 meeting, but only 7 accepted. Ms Dudiyeva was originally opposed to the idea.

Many relatives of the 331 victims are convinced that the President chose this date to play on the raw emotions the anniversary has elicited in people in the hope that they would be more compliant.

North Ossetian President Tejmuraz Mamsurov, who had two of his children among the hostages, accompanied the delegation.

For a year, victims' relatives had been demanding a meeting with state authorities whom they blame for the hostage taking incident's tragic denouement.

In yesterday's closed door meeting, Putin is said to have personally accepted "responsibility" for what happened.

Speaking in a press conference after the meeting, Ms Dudiyeva said the President told the delegation that on September 1-3 he was unaware of the exact number of hostages; he knew of 300-350 people, but the real figure was over 1,200. "He said that the truth about Beslan will come out and we believe him".

Many reporters present at the press conference noted that Ms Dudiyeva repeated "We believe him" several times. National news agencies stressed instead the "free and open" nature of the meeting.

"Putin now says he has a better picture of what happened in a Beslan," Ms Dudiyeva said. She also revealed that the President was asked "hard questions" and freely admitted to not having an answer. He did though express the intention of "finding the truth with us and shedding light on what happened".

The President, who has been blamed for the ways the Special Forces reacted to the Chechen terrorists held up in the school, has pledged a full inquiry into the tragedy.

The President also admitted that the Special Forces used 'Shmel' flamethrowers (banned by international conventions) when they stormed School Nº1.

There "is no excuse for officials' improper fulfilment of their duties", Putin said, but today, faced with terrorism, no "state is [. . .] in condition to provide for the security of its citizens to the necessary degree". Moreover, he added, Russia has lost much with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Back in Beslan, 30 women spent the entire night in the ruins of the school and another 40 held a prayer vigil in the cemetery.


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See also
09/01/2005 RUSSIA
Beslan, the days of tragedy (Overview)
08/31/2005 RUSSIA
Beslan: amid the official clamour, families fast in silence
08/31/2005 RUSSIA
Orthodox and Catholics mourn together those who died in Beslan
09/14/2004 RUSSIA
The Caucasus, a religious powder keg after Beslan
09/01/2005 RUSSIA
Accused of collusion with the terrorists, Beslan teachers write to Putin

Editor's choices
LEBANON
Muslims defend Christians’ freedom in Beirut DeclarationFreedom of religion, education and opinion are defended by quoting the Qur’ān, which is the basis for the rule of law, not a religious state. Lebanese Sunnis slam violence committed in the name of God. The full declaration is reprinted here.
LEBANON
Islamic Makassed launch doctrinal battle against Muslim extremism
by Fady NounOfficial reference point for Lebanon’s Sunnis approves a document entitled "Beirut Declaration on Religious Freedom". Speculation over whether Dar el-Fatwa will succeed in gradually regaining control of Islamic religious teaching in the nation’s mosques.
HONG KONG – CHINA
For Card Zen, removing crosses in Zhejiang is an insult to the faith of CatholicsHong Kong’s bishop emeritus has come to the conclusion that the campaign to dismantle crosses and religious buildings is part of a broader, nation-wide strategy, and constitutes regression in terms of the mainland's religious policy. Catholics and Protestants in Hong Kong now fear that it might happen to them. In Zhejiang, another 15 religious buildings are slated for destruction by 1 September.

Dossier

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