Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 25

The head of the commission set up by the North Ossetian parliament to investigate last September’s Beslan hostage tragedy, Stanislav Kesaev, suggested in an interview with Vremya novostei published on June 28 that it was possible the Russian authorities provoked a violent denouement to the hostage crisis in order to prevent the late Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov from arriving on the scene to help resolve it. Kesaev told the newspaper it is “unambiguous” that the hostage-takers had demanded a withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and that Maskhadov, through Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakaev, had “promised and guaranteed” then North Ossetian President Dzasokhov that he would come to Beslan by the evening of September 3. “You have the impression that as soon as the likelihood of Maskhadov’s appearance arose, the assault began?”, Kesaev was asked. “I admit that [possibility],” he answered.

Kesaev supported testimony by former hostages and other eyewitnesses that security forces used both tanks and flamethrowers during the assault on the school. “The investigation does not want to know this,” he said. “There are too many bodies. And it isn’t clear who’s to blame. He also said that the real number of terrorists involved in the hostage taking was more than the official number of 32. Asked how many he thought were involved, Kesaev replied: “I cannot say exactly, but there were clearly more than is indicated. I personally saw how after the assault, three people taken off the field of battle were herded into the basement of the district FSB…And they are showing us [Nur-Pashi] Kulaev alone,” Kesaev said, referring to the lone Beslan terrorist to be apprehended and put on trial.