Kremlin to blame for Beslan deaths, claims Russian MP

By Andrew Osborn, East Europe Correspondent 
Published: 30 August 2006

Almost two years after 331 people died in the Beslan
school siege, one of the MPs investigating the tragedy
has released a report that blames the Kremlin for the
death of more than a third of the hostages, whose
safety, he suggests, was not a priority. 

Yuri Savelyev, an MP and member of the official
parliamentary inquiry panel, claims that Russian
forces deliberately stormed the school on 4 September
2004 using maximum force.

His account suggests the government disregarded the
safety of the women and children cowering inside the
school in southern Russia and that it was more
interested in killing the pro-Chechen terrorists than
saving the hostages.

According to Mr Savelyev, a weapons and explosives
expert, special forces fired rocket-propelled grenades
without warning as a prelude to an armed assault,
ignoring the fact that negotiations were apparently
still going on.

He says the explosions turned the school into a war
zone when the Chechen gunmen retaliated, causing a
fire which killed many of the hostages trapped beneath
its burning roof.

Mr Savalyev's 700-page report, Beslan: the Hostages'
Truth, contradicts the official account, which is that
the school was not deliberately stormed and that it
was the hostage-takers, not special forces, who
detonated the two explosive devices that triggered the

The Chechen rebel who apparently masterminded the
siege - Shamil Basayev - was killed last month in an
explosion that the Kremlin claims was the result of a
special operation.

The search for his personal archive and an estimated
$7m (3.7m) in cash has apparently led the authorities
to abduct his last wife, whose identity and existence
was a mystery until very recently.

Elina Ersenoyeva, 26, was snatched by masked gunmen on
17 August and has not been heard from since. 


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