AP: Putin: Russia can't prevent terrorism
- Putin: Russia can't prevent terrorism
Thursday, September 1st, 2005
By MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin on Friday told mothers of
children killed a year ago in a hostage siege at a school in southern
Russia that the government could not guarantee complete security for its
people in the face of terrorism.
But the Russian leader said that was no excuse for officials to have
allowed such a terrible tragedy.
More than 330 victims died after masked, heavily armed guerrillas took
over Beslan School No. 1 on Sept. 1, 2004, most in the explosions and
gunfire that brought the crisis to a bloody end two days later.
In brief televised remarks, Putin told the delegation from the
grief-stricken southern town that no country in the world could provide
such protection - much less one, like Russia, that has undergone so many
wrenching changes in the past few decades.
"I must say, immediately, I agree with those who believe that the state
is not in a condition to provide for the security of its citizens to the
necessary degree," Putin said. (*)
He noted that other countries, such as the United States and Britain,
have also suffered huge terrorist attacks and suggested that their law
enforcement bodies, too, were in part responsible.
The mothers and other relatives of victims of the school hostage tragedy
flew to Moscow from Beslan on Friday for the long-demanded meeting to
tell Putin of their grievances.
"He can't comprehend what we've been through. He's a father. I want to
tell him what we've been through," Susanna Dudiyeva, the head of the
Beslan Mothers' Committee who lost her 13-year-old son in the school
seizure a year ago, told The Associated Press this week.
The Mothers' Committee demanded the meeting to air its members' protest
of the government's handling of the tragedy - both the botched rescue
operation and the subsequent investigation, which they mistrust.
But when the invitation for a Kremlin meeting finally came, many were
stunned and angry that Putin had chosen the first anniversary of the
siege for what they suspected was more a political gesture than an
attempt to hear their grievances.
Some relatives spent Thursday night - the first night of the three-day
mourning period - in the gutted gymnasium where rebels had herded more
than 1,100 hostages on the first day of school last year.
The assault on the school stunned Russia and prompted Putin to make
sweeping political changes. Across the country on Thursday, schools
started their usually festive opening day ceremonies with a moment of
"Today, millions of people both here and abroad, all who know about this
terrible catastrophe and who have a heart, of course remember this
nightmare," Putin said Thursday, speaking at the Kuban State Agriculture
Putin was roundly condemned in Beslan for flying into the town the day
after the hostage crisis ended but avoiding encounters with the victims'
Yes. Because if it was, Mr. Putin and associates would already be doing
time for the terrorist acts in Moscow and Volgodonsk and for war crimes
and crimes against humanity in Chechnya. N.S.