Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 44

Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 23 tank commander that Col. Viktor Kindeyev testified on November 22 in the trial of Nurpashi Kulaev, the sole living Beslan hostage-taker to be put on trial, that he commanded the three T-72 tanks that arrived in the town on September 3, the day that School No. 1 was stormed, but was ordered to put them at the disposal of the Federal Security Service (FSB). “I was responsible for the first ring of encirclement,” he told the North Ossetian Supreme Court, which is trying the Kulaev case. “Between me and the northern side of the school there was nothing. I placed the tanks in positions in the area of the encirclement. After the explosions, at 2 PM, on the orders of 58th Army commander General [Viktor] Sobolev, the tanks were handed over to the command of the FSB. From that time on, according to the regulations, the tanks were no longer under my command.”

Kindeyev said that the tanks were handed over to the FSB’s command because no one from the Defense Ministry, including the Defense Minister himself, has the right to order a tank to fire. “I heard a tank fire,” he testified. “I don’t deny that. Only one tank fired, at a distance of 70 meters from the school. It fired seven shots, one of which was a blank. I can name the precise time: 20 hours 55 minutes. I’ll explain, so that it’s understandable to the lay person: a shot from a tank greatly differs from a shot from a grenade launcher or flame thrower, inasmuch as the sound from a tank is louder, more resonant and stronger.” Kindeyev said that the first four tank rounds—which, he said, were fired into a wall of the school building—were “antipersonnel-high explosive shells.”