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A Groundswell of Sympathy and Donations
By DANIEL J. WAKIN
Published: September 8, 2004
As might be expected, planeloads of foreign aid for the relief effort
after the school siege in Beslan, Russia, have been sent in, but the
scale of the horror seems to have evoked an unusual outpouring of
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations have been channeled by
Russian émigrés, Orthodox churches and Christian evangelicals in the
United States. Flowers are piling up outside the Russian Consulate in
New York. People have lined up outside the Russian Embassy in
Washington to sign a condolence book. About 150,000 people on Monday
night snaked under torchlight and candles through Rome. Children
carried banners reading: "Children with the Children of Beslan. They
will not murder our future."
International leaders continued to express sympathy four days after
the explosions and shootings at the school. Pope John Paul II sent
condolences, saying he hoped the "spiral of hatred and violence"
would not prevail. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy
expressed "horror and pain."
Tony Blair, the British prime minister, said yesterday that the
killing of children brought terrorism to an "even more depraved
level," adding: "We stand in complete solidarity with Russia and the
Russian people in saying these people will not prevail."
The deaths of so many people in such a spectacular way has been
compared to another September morning horror.
"The terror act in Beslan is Russia's Sept. 11th," read a headline
across an online solicitor of relief funds, the International
Foundation for Terror Act Victims, www.moscowhelp.org.
Letters on themoscowtimes.com also evoked the attacks of Sept. 11.
One letter writer expressing sympathy said he was a former New York
City firefighter who survived 9/11. Another recalled the killings
on "two peaceful, beautiful September mornings."
"It's something that shocks the nation and the world in same way
Sept. 11 did," said Andrew Mogilyansky, a Russian-émigré businessman
who helped set up the site www.moscowhelp.org and its charity after
the attack on a Moscow theater in 2002. "Russia is standing still,
awestruck and horrified, and the whole world should as well," he
said. "It's not just another terrorist event. It's Sept. 11."
Mr. Mogilyansky said yesterday that his charity was bringing in about
$10,000 an hour, collecting at least $300,000 by late afternoon.
An evangelical organization, Russian Ministries, which helps
establish Christian churches in the former Soviet Union, and has
offices in Wheaton, Ill., said it has raised $18,000 for the Beslan
relief effort. Its president, Anita Deyneka, said the ministry had a
center 10 miles from Beslan. About 40 children who attended its
summer camps had been among the hostages, she said.
"I received calls with people weeping," she said. "Others wanted to
send teddy bears. I think our own experience with terrorism and the
fact this was targeted at children have touched the hearts of people
The Orthodox Church in America is preparing its own appeal for funds,
to be presented at its 700 churches, missions and institutions in
North America, said a spokesman, the Very Rev. John
Matusiak. "There's a real groundswell," he said.
Scores of people have made donations through the Russian Consulate
and Russian Embassy, although officials could not provide
figures. "It's useless to count the money," said an embassy
spokesman, Yevgeniy Khorishko. "It's not the point, how much money.
It's the reaction of the Americans."
The United States, France and Italy have sent medical and other
supplies. Doctors Without Borders sent physicians, and international
agencies like Unicef, the World Health Organization and the Red Cross
were also making appeals or providing assistance.
Jason Horowitz contributed reporting from Rome for this article.