Last week’s political demonstrations “against terrorism,” both in Moscow and in the North Ossetia capital of Vladikavkaz, were somewhat similar to Soviet-era rallies—planned and organized by the government itself for the purpose of showcasing support for its own policies. This was especially true of the “demonstration” in Vladikavkaz on September 9, a carefully scripted event which became the pretext for North Ossetia’s President Aleksandr Dzasokhov to withdraw what many had interpreted as a promise that he would resign. As reported by Gazeta.ru on September 9, Dzasokhov listened while one of the speakers read an “appeal” to him from residents of three Ossetian villages, pleading with him not to resign. Dzasokhov, who earlier that week had said he would dismiss his entire cabinet, said: “I am not clinging to power, but to leave now would mean to abandon the people who have elected me….I cannot do that.”
Dzasokhov has been harshly criticized for his handling of the Beslan hostage crisis, especially for his failure to appear in person at the scene and meet with the hostage-takers as they had specifically demanded. According to Gazeta.ru, not one person from nearby Beslan took part in the September 9 demonstration.