–SAVELYEV: AS MANY AS 78 GUNMEN CARRIED OUT BESLAN RAID
Yuri Savelyev, the State Duma deputy who is conducting an independent investigation into the Beslan school raid, claimed on October 12 that at least 56 and possibly as many as 78 attackers were involved in the hostage seizure. Government investigators say that 32-armed rebels stormed Beslan’s School No. 1 on September 1, 2004, and that Nur-Pashi Kulaev, a Chechen who was sentenced to life in prison in May, was the only attacker who survived. “There needs to be an additional investigation into what happened to the rest” of the attackers, the Associated Press quoted Savelyev as saying. On October 17, the AP, citing Interfax, quoted Aleksandr Torshin, the Federation Council member who heads the parliamentary commission investigating the Beslan school seizure, as saying that three suspected accomplices in the attack are still at large. However, Torshin also said he had seen no evidence supporting claims that the number of attackers was more than the official figure of 32. “The majority of those involved in the terrorist attack are already in the next world, with the exception of two or three terrorists, whom we will definitely get,” Torshin said. He said he was referring to two suspected accomplices who stayed behind near a site where the attackers camped, and a third person suspected of financing the attack.
–ANNIVERSARY OF NALCHIK RAID MARKED
Interfax reported on October 13 that some 1,000 people, mostly students from universities in Kabardino-Balkaria, took part in a mass rally “against incitement of religious discord on religious and ethnic grounds” in the republic’s capital of Nalchik on the first anniversary of the militant raid that left more than 90 rebels and 35 security officers dead. The news agency quoted the rector of Kabardino-Balkaria’s Agriculture Academy, Boris Zherukov, as saying in a speech at the rally: “We saw with our own eyes the ugly face of terrorism on October 13 . Brothers, relatives and neighbors found themselves on opposite sides on that day.” While Islam is a peaceful religion, he said “Islamic terrorism is an instrument intended to ruin Russia” that has been “brought in from the outside” and that the “security services, the clergy and we all need to learn a serious lesson from these events” and that the time for “defensive actions has passed.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, meanwhile, reported on October 13 that a small group of relatives of those killed in last year’s raid rallied in front of the Nalchik prosecutor’s office. One of the protesters, the mother of Dzhambulat Nabitov and Azamat Nabitov, both of whom were killed during the Nalchik violence, said they were protesting because the authorities “have not given us the bodies. We can’t bury them.” She said “the authorities are saying the bodies are in safe keeping, but we don’t know that for sure.”