Kremlin to blame for Beslan deaths, claims Russian MP
Andrew Osborn / London Independent | August 30 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 gunfight.
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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