Satarov: Official Lies Can Be Deadly

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 35

In a September 9 analysis for, the Moscow political scientist and former Yeltsin adviser Georgi Satarov suggested that the Russian and North Ossetian authorities’ repeated falsehoods about the Beslan crisis during the period from September 1 to September 3 were literally murderous. The public disinformation about the number of hostages in the school must have had similar effects, he argued, both on the terrorists and on the hostages’ relatives standing vigil outside. Both groups must naturally have concluded that the only logical reason for the authorities’ clumsy lies was to lay the groundwork for understating the death toll after an assault—and that therefore the decision to assault the building must already have been made. Feeling that there was no real hope of a peaceful outcome, both the hostage-takers and the local residents were poised to lash out in desperation at the first sign that an assault was beginning.

“In such conditions, a crisis was unavoidable and might explode from any chance event,” wrote Satarov. “And that is exactly what happened…Today everyone is stubbornly seeking answers to the questions, ‘Who started shooting first?’ and ‘Who touched off the explosives—our guys from outside the building or those inside?’ But don’t you see, that’s really not important! A tragedy became inevitable from that moment when the authorities began to tell their customary lies.”