INovaya Gazeta: New Version Of The First Explosions
New Version Of The First Explosions
Novaya Gazeta received the conclusions of the mathematical simulation
of the first explosions at the Beslan's School#1. This has been the
third expertise attempting to convince us that the school was blown up
by terrorists, and not by special police squad soldiers.
Criminal case # 20/849 on prosecution
Conclusions by complex forensic expertise (mathematic simulation,
technical-explosion expertise and ballistic expertise)
Photo 1. Trajectory of the second grenade launcher shot made from the
roof of the building through the gym to the north-west window.
Photo 2. The breach under the north-west window of the gym caused with
hitting of the grenade into the wall between window-sill and the
central heating radiator.
It has been one and a half year since the publication date of the
report by Yuri Savelyev titled "Beslan. The Truth By The Hostages".
The first part of the report presents a scrupulous analysis of the
testimony by the hostages; also the picture of the first explosions
that provoked the assault made - is simulated on the basis of
mathematical and physical calculation. The conclusion in that report
contradicted official hypothesis and stated that the first explosions
were a result of shooting at the school building made with grenade
launchers and flame throwers. Responding to Mr. Savelyev's report, the
investigation requested for the Complex Expertise of mathematical
simulation. The expertise was performed by the employees from the
research institute after Karbyshev belonging to defense ministry and
by the employees from scientific-industrial enterprise "Basalt" which
develops fire grenade systems. 11 months and 600,000 rubles have been
spent on the expertise. The conclusions by experts are rather
equivocal. Specialists did not find errors in the calculation made by
Yuri Savelyev, and in some cases they admitted the testimony by
hostages to have been correct, where it was obvious. But mainly the
experts have had to gerrymander the facts and calculations so that to
prove the hypothesis by investigation that it were IED's (improvised
explosive devices) made by terrorists to have exploded in the gym of
the School #1.
Novaya Gazeta and the website PravdaBeslana.Ru got all the 405 pages
of the new expertise report with charts, formulas and schemes. We have
asked Yuri Savelyev to make comments on the decision of the commission
of experts. Mr. Savelyev is a specialist in the field of physics of
burning and physics of explosion.
A: So far there have been three expertise conclusions among the
materials of the criminal case #20/849 (on the count of terrorist
seizure of School #1 in the city of Beslan). Each expertise locates
differently the first explosions that happened within the interval of
27 seconds at 13:03 on 3 September 2004 in the gym where 1,128
hostages were held.
According to technical-explosion forensic expertise by the FSB
research institute of criminalistics, no less than three explosions of
IED's, installed by terrorists, took place in the gym at 13:03. The
first explosion was located to the backboard on the western wall of
the gym, the second to the right side jamb at the same wall, and the
third to the window-sill at the north wall (See the scheme 1 E.M.).
Importantly, in expert's opinion it was a plastic bottle to explode on
the window-sill which was stuffed with explosive equal to 1.2 kg of
The second expertise, carried out by the employees from Forensic
Center, only tells about two exploded IED's. The first one allegedly
detonated under the basketball basket near the western wall, and the
second by the north wall under the window aperture (See the Scheme 2
E.M.). Conclusions by Forensic Center specialists are at variance with
those by FSB institute of criminalistics. In FC experts' opinion, the
explosive device was not on the window-sill, but it was placed under a
chair at a distance 0.5 m from the wall, and its power is affirmed to
be 5.2 kg of TNT equivalent.
As for the third official expertise of mathematical simulation made in
September 2007, its conclusions differ greatly from the first two.
According to it, the first explosion happened at the north-east
(opposite) side of the gym.
According to those expert accounts, it was an IED equal to 3-6 kg of
TNT to detonate being installed by the terrorists on a chair at a
distance of 1.1 m from the northern wall and 5.1 m from the eastern
wall (See the Scheme 3).
The second explosion took place 20 sec later in the opposite
(north-west) corner of the gym and it actually was a simultaneous
detonation of several IED's (5-10 pieces). In experts' sight, one of
those "smaller" explosions caused the breach under a northern window
near the western wall and caused minor damage to the frame of that
window (See Photo 2).
Generally, it's only one thing that is common about all the three
hypotheses: it was exactly IED's installed by the terrorists to have
detonated. As for power, location and number of the devices the
experts split on that point.
Actually, the last expertise of the mathematic simulation was done
because of the pressure by public organizations of Beslan, requiring
checking the conclusions formulated in part 1 of my report that
practically coincided with main conclusions by Independent
Parliamentary Panel of the republic of Northern Ossetia-Alania:
1. During next 27 seconds after the first explosions no IDE detonated
in the gym. Part of them detonated much later, which was caused with
the fire in the gym.
2. Over 40 hostages testified in court under oath and during
examinations that the first explosion took place (on above) in the
attic-floor room of the gym between entrance from the school yard and
the backboard (See Scheme 4). The nature and the consequences of that
explosion make one conclude it was a thermobaric grenade, launched
from the roof of the neighboring 5-storey building #37 situated on
Shkolny Lane. That explosion formed a round hole in the gym's ceiling
through which explosion products penetrated the gym's space in a shape
of a fire ball (it was caused with after-burning of magnesium in the
thermobaric mixture of the grenade).
3. Having studied the consequences of the explosion near the northern
window (the size of the breach under the window, and along with that
the fact that the frame remained sound (!) (See Photo 2) I concluded
that those damages could not have been caused with IED explosion
either on the window-sill or near the window. But such an effect could
have been caused with a device equal to about 6 kg of TNT delivered to
the outside wall under the window-sill. It could very probably have
been a grenade (most likely RShG-1) launched from the roof of the
building 41 situated on Shkolny Lane (See Photo 1).
I believe that testimony by tens of hostages saying about the hole in
the ceiling in the north-east part of the gym became very inconvenient
for the investigation. As material evidence that hole disappeared
after the gym burnt down and the roof fell and the fire brigades
were not allowed to the scene during 2 hours and a half. Nonetheless,
the investigation had to explain forming of that hole in the ceiling
that appeared exactly as a result of the first explosion. It was also
necessary to give an explanation about other consequences of the attic
explosion: the steel corbel of the abat-jour, curved for 15 cm; the
stripped from it iron deck; the massive entrance double-wing doors
knocked out and so on.
All those damages (in the eastern part of the gym) did not fit the
initial hypothesis placing the first explosions in the western part of
the gym. This is why investigation had to request for another
expertise after which the first explosion epicenter was "moved" for 20
m towards the eastern wall.
Q: And experts say it was not a thermobaric grenade on the gym's roof,
but it was terrorists' IED installed near that place. How do experts
come to this conclusion?
A: Very simple. Two years later they examined the gym and found a
deformation in the spot on the floor where hostages pointed the major
damages to have appeared after the first explosion. The matter is that
somewhere near that place the terrorists really installed an IED which
seemed to be rather powerful. But it detonated much later after first
explosions and the detonation was caused with an open flame when the
gym caught up fire. Even the sappers from the 58th Army, who were
there, testified about that, let alone many of the hostages. For
example, Angela Digurova got her head injured when she was sitting
near the entrance to the gym, due to the explosion from above. She
managed to raise her daughter and push her out of the window (near
which investigation says the first explosion happened). Mrs. Digurova
herself stayed under window. When the fire began on the floor, caused
with dropping from above burning fragments of ceiling and
warmth-keeping jacket, Angela began to crawl away from that place. She
said during the court proceedings "after we crawled away, there was
another big explosion to sound behind us".
Nonetheless, the experts ignored the description by the hostages and
"associated" the hole in the ceiling with the floor-based IED
mentioned above. They made a rather true-like calculation of the
consequences of that IED detonation.
Q: How convincing is their hypothesis?
A: The experts failed to explain the damage of the steel corbel of the
abat-jour over the entrance to the gym from the yard. According to my
calculation it could only have been damaged with a shock wave of the
explosion on the gym's roof. As for experts, they proposed several
versions about the corbel. It could have been curved: 1) by a boy who
probably jumped on it from a height of 1.2 m long before the events in
question; 2) by a man weighing over 87 kg who could jump from the
ground and hanged by it for a while.
Another hypothesis proposed was that the IED detonation broke the
ceiling in the north-east corner of the gym, tossed up the boards of
the ceiling, and the boards hit the roofing slate tossing it up to 6 m
high. Then the slate just fell on the corbel and curved it. The
experts even tried to prove this hypothesis with calculation. But I'd
like to remind here that any mathematic simulation must be proved with
And again the experts ignored the testifying by hostages when they
said "There are no witnesses of that explosion (IED detonation on a
chair near the eastern wall E.M.) as the hostages and the terrorist,
who stayed near that place, got killed".
In my letter to Vladimir Putin I called that statement to be another
lies and adduced an example of testimony by a hostage Mrs. Bichenova,
who had stayed handbreadth to the chair with the IED that detonated
according to the experts. But Mrs. Bichenova as well as her son
survived and her son managed to run out of the gym through the broken
with explosion door.
Much evidence also has been given by other hostages who must have been
killed, according to the expert calculation, as they were in the
lethal zone of the IED detonation that's about 2 m for an IED with
the charge equal to 3 kg of TNT, and over 2.5 m for an explosion of 6
kg of TNT. Exactly such a power of explosion was calculated by the
In the first part of my report I quoted the testimony by the hostages
who had been sitting near that IED just 1-3 m away! All of them
managed to get out from the gym after the first explosion and they
didn't even have their ear-drums injured! The testimony by all those
hostages proves that that IED did not explode at 13:03 on 3 September
Nevertheless, I consider investigation to have done an important step
towards the truth. It has already "moved" the epicenter of the first
explosion for 20 m. It only remains to do the next step: to locate the
epicenter of the explosion upwards to the attic and explain what
exactly exploded there.
Q: Yuri Petrovich, actually the complex expertise was ordered to be
performed so that to check your calculations about first explosions
provoked with the shooting from grenade launchers and fire throwers.
What is said about that in the expertise report?
A: The experts confirmed that possible explosion of a thermobaric
grenade could have been an explanation for all the damages mentioned
by hostages and those found by myself. The experts were able to
forward only two counter-evidence: 1) The possible attic explosion
could not have thrown about the piles of things with which the
terrorists had barricaded the entrance to the gym that's chairs,
tables, bags etc. 2) such an explosion wouldn't have destroyed the
window on the opposite side of the gym.
Well, let my colleagues have the first counter-evidence on their
conscience. I suggest that the readers put a handful of sunflower
seeds on the table and then blow on it from above, imitating a shock
wave from the ceiling. Let them see the seeds go to all directions.
And the experts say that the shock wave must have swept all the things
from the entrance doors only to one direction towards the eastern wall
separating the gym from the weight room. This is in contradiction with
the testimony by hostages.
As for the second counter-evidence, it's just made up. I never
affirmed what they alleged to me.
Q: What does the expertise say about the second explosion after which
a breach appeared in the brick wall under the window, while the window
frame stayed sound?
A: The experts made a large volume of calculation for justification
the hypothesis of an IED exploded by terrorists near the window. The
hypothesis says the chair charged with 3-6 kg of TNT equivalent had
been standing at a distance of 0.5 m from the wall under the window.
To justify this version, another "hole" was found on the gym's floor.
I was accused of distorting the facts and affirming that there was no
hole on the floor in that place.
Strangely, but during carrying out the expertise to check my own
report, including the checking done by the parliamentary panel, no one
applied to me personally! If someone had asked me about that "hole", I
would have shown to the experts the following evidence: 1) scene
inspection protocol drawn up by investigators from Prosecutor
General's office on 4 September 2004; 2) the pictures by a well-known
photo journalist Yuri Tutov taken at 15:25 on 3 September 2004; 3) my
own photos of the floor under the window with the breach.
The experts pass a burnt area on the floor for that "hole"! The
photos by Yuri Tutov, attached to my report, clearly show all the
phases of burning of the five huge wooden ceiling shields the moment
they caught fire, then burning of all the surface of the shields, then
their dropping exactly at the place where the "hole" was found. As for
the scene inspection report, this official document established two
breaches of the floor near that northern window, the centers of
breaches being 0.75 m and 1.3 m respectively from the wall under the
window, and it established the burnout in that place. No breach of the
wooden floor was found at a distance of 0.5 m from the wall.
The experts did not complete the calculation for justification of the
consequences of the second explosion (the breach under the window, but
also the window frame undamaged with the shock wave). The matter is
that a charge of 5.2-6.2 kg of TNT equivalent, attached to the wall
from outside or delivered there with a grenade launching, can really
make a breach in the wall with a diameter of 1.5-1.6 m.
But when same quantity of the charge is placed at a distance of 0.5 m
from the wall, then there cannot have been any breach, let alone the
one with above mentioned diameter. Making such a breach would take a
charge of 12-14 kg of the TNT equivalent. To be on the safe side, the
experts say about the figure of 13.8 kg of TNT equivalent. However, no
explosive device of such a power was found in the gym. But let us
assume that an explosion of the above alleged power really took place.
Then the hole on the floor must have been no less than 1.5 m in
diameter and there must have been a significantly large crater on the
ground. Besides, such an explosion must have destroyed not only this
window frame but also those neighboring to it. Nothing of that
happened in reality. And none of the three expertises has been able to
explain that fact.
Q: Yuri Petrovich, what else is possible to be done by the
investigation to disprove your research results?
A: I don't think it's necessary to carry out new expertises. This is
very expensive and it has no sense as the best qualified experts who
are trapped by this situation have already given their opinion. To
prove the truth by the hostages we just need to force FSB to
declassify and submit to investigation and to the public the video
materials made by FSB employees during all the three days of the
tragedy, and especially for the period from 13 p.m. to 15 p.m. of 3
September 2004. It's been several years that the victims and their
relatives press for that to be done. But FSB refused it to Beslan
residents, Prosecutor General's office, both parliamentary panels, the
court, and even President of Russia. As for me personally, such an
attitude tells me much.
Besides, it's just inaccessible to reduce the Beslan tragedy only to
the topic of the nature of the first explosions, which is what only
first part of my report deals with. I would also want to draw
attention to a number of other serious aspects only partly dealt with
in my report:
Death of more than 100 hostages outside the gym, in the main ruined
southern wing and in the canteen. Those people had survived in the
exploded gym but met their death in another hell that was maybe even
Disappearing from the school over 30 terrorists in the morning of 3
Unimpeded coming to Beslan just one hour before that all the
police traffic blocks had been removed of the numerous motorized
terrorist group where present were gunmen who had been detained,
arrested and even prosecuted long before the Beslan terrorist act.
The full version of the complex expertise is published in Russian at: