Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 34

Kavkazky Uzel reported on September 6 that in a poll carried out among residents of North Ossetia by the Caucasus Times information agency on the eve of the second anniversary of the Beslan tragedy, 88 percent of the respondents indicated they were unhappy with the results of the official investigation of the terrorist act. Caucasus Times information agency editor Islam Tekushev told Kavkazky Uzel that 64 percent of those polled said they viewed the results of the investigation “negatively” while 24 percent viewed them “rather negatively.” According to Kavkazky Uzel, the respondents expressed doubts about the objectivity of the official version of events in Beslan and said they thought investigators were deliberately hiding the truth.

A report released in August entitled “Beslan: The Truth About the Hostages,” prepared by Yury Savelyev, a member of the parliamentary commission investigating the attack, contradicted the conclusions reached by the commission headed by Federation Council Deputy Speaker Alexander Torshin. As the Moscow Times noted on September 1, Savelyev’s report, which was based on the testimony of former hostages as well as photo and video evidence, claims the first and second explosions in the gymnasium of Beslan’s School No. 1, where the hostages were held, as well as the fire, were caused by flame-throwers and grenade launchers fired by commandos positioned in buildings across from the school.

Novaya gazeta reported on August 28 that police in Chechnya had learned about the planned attack on the school in Beslan three hours in advance but did not alert law enforcement officials in North Ossetia to tighten security. According to a police report printed by the bi-weekly, a detainee in the Chechen town of Shali, identified only by his last name of Arsamikov, told police that a school hostage-taking was planned for Beslan. Novaya Gazeta also reported that 60 to 70 terrorists were involved in the school seizure, not 32, as stated in the official version of events. The newspaper quoted two eyewitnesses as saying that two vehicles carrying gunmen arrived at Beslan’s School No. 1 on the morning of September 1, 2001, after the arrival of the first truck carrying 32 terrorists.