Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 33

Some members of the Beslan Mothers’ Committee, along with several hundred other residents of the town, signed an appeal asking for asylum abroad. “We, the parents and relatives of victims who died in the September 3rd [2004] terrorist act in School No. 1 in the city of Beslan, have lost all hope of a fair investigation into the causes of that tragedy and the persons to blame for it, and we no longer wish to live in this country where human life means nothing,” read the appeal, which was published by on September 1. “We ask to be granted political asylum in any country where human rights are observed.

“For almost a year we have been waiting patiently to be told the truth about the brutal killing of our relatives and for the guilty persons to be called to account. However, time and the authorities’ actions have shown us that we will never be told this truth, which is absurd and dreadful. Many of us were hostages in the school and witnessed the destruction of people. We have attended the court sessions [in the trial] of the terrorist N. Kulaev, where the state prosecutors are trying to dump all the blame onto the terrorists alone. Yes, a terrorist act did take place, for the gunmen shot 21 men in the school. They did not kill women and children. Who, then, shot the remaining 300-plus people, mainly women and children? People were killed as entire families. For what?! …[We know] who, for the sake of their ugly political image, scorned negotiations with the terrorists and, at the same time, the lives of our relatives.

“It is obvious that to Russia’s federal regime we are ‘persons of Caucasian nationality.’ They treated the hostages the way they treat livestock in a slaughterhouse. The majority of those who died were blown up, shot using tanks and grenade launchers, and burned alive by Shmel flamethrowers. Then the ruins of the building were carted off to the dump along with human body parts and the hostages’ personal belongings.”

The appeal’s more than 500 signatories also condemned the war in Chechnya. “We believe that the primary cause of the outburst of terror in Russia is the unleashing of the cruel war against our own people in Chechnya,” they wrote. “Corruption, graft, and bribe-taking have become a cancerous tumor on the body of the Russian state’s power structures. This tumor has struck all of society, forming fertile soil for crime and terrorism.

“We, the mothers, fathers, relatives, and friends of hostages brutally tormented by terrorists, we who have been betrayed by our own politicians, officials, siloviki, and our ‘president,’ who have been reduced to despair and lost all hope of hearing the truth about those who are chiefly to blame for the destruction of our relatives, we ask you to receive us into your country, where we will be law-abiding citizens respecting your laws.”

It should be noted that both Susanna Dudieva, chairwoman of the Beslan Mothers’ Committee, and Juliet Basieva, the group’s executive director, dissociated themselves and the group from the asylum appeal. “An appeal to the heads of democratic states was presented to the Beslan Mothers’ Committee, and the Committee took it under consideration,” Basieva told Interfax on September 1. “Yet it was decided not to publish the appeal in the media…We think this is premature. The petition is coming from former hostages, not the Beslan Mothers’ Committee. Several members of the Committee signed the appeal, but that is their personal point of view. This is being done to disrupt or thwart a meeting of the former hostages’ delegation with the federal president. It is nothing but skillful black PR.”