Russian military officers accused of aiding Beslan hostage-takers
Russian officers 'helped in plot to seize Beslan
By Andrew Osborn in Beslan
28 January 2005
Beslan's increasingly restless residents were told
yesterday that high-ranking Russian military officers
who "were still at their posts" were suspected of
helping Chechen militants seize the town's school last
Two men holding a rank "higher than a major and a
colonel" were said to be involved in the plot and had
apparently deliberately not fulfilled the functions
for which they are paid, presumably in exchange for
some kind of bribe.
The revelation, disclosed by the parliamentary
commission investigating the atrocity, appeared to
shatter the illusion that the tragedy was the isolated
work of a small band of Chechen separatists.
It is likely to enrage the victims' mothers who are
becoming increasingly vociferous in their demands that
the president of North Ossetia, the republic where
Beslan is located, should resign. Last week they
blocked Beslan's main highway for three days to press
their demands and are threatening to take further
"illegal" action if Alexander Dzasokhov, whom they
accuse of failing to protect their children, does not
Alexander Torshin, chairman of the parliamentary
commission looking into the bloodbath, said yesterday
that "a terrorist act of such a scale would have been
impossible to commit without accomplices."
In the mayhem that followed the seizure of the school
on 1 September, 330 people died, 186 of whom were
children. Many residents have found it impossible to
fathom how a group of militants allegedly numbering no
more than 32 was able to hold more than 1,100 people
hostage for three days.
It is also unclear how they managed to smuggle so many
weapons into the school, passing through so many
official checkpoints. It is known that several
policemen readily accepted bribes to turn a blind eye.
Two accomplices have been detained, a further three
are on the run and yesterday Mr Torshin claimed that
he had passed information to the law enforcement
authorities concerning a further two accomplices.
While the accomplices identified so far have been
local civilians, Mr Torshin said the duo being sought
both held a military rank "higher than a major and a
Another member of the parliamentary commission,
Vladimir Kulakov, said the accom- plices being sought
worked at "the federal level" suggesting that some of
the officials/military officers being sought may be
based in Moscow itself.
People in Beslan reacted wearily to the news. "I am
not surprised by this. This is Russia after all and
people are often tempted to do anything for money,"
said a local man who declined to be named.
Only one of the actual participants in the siege was
captured alive. Nur-Pasha Kulaev, a 24-year-old
Chechen, admitted he had taken part. He is expected to
be formally sentenced in the near future while the
parliamentary investigation is expected to release its
final report in the next two months.