A girl holds a poster which reads "Only cowards fight with kids," during a rally to condemn Beslan attackers and to support the attack victims in downtown St.Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
September 7, 2004
MOSCOW (AP) - Tens of thousands of people answered a government call and rallied outside the Kremlin on Tuesday in a show of solidarity against terrorism, nearly a week after militants seized a school in southern Russia in a standoff that claimed more than 350 lives, many of them children.
Mourners in the grief-stricken city of Beslan lowered caskets into the damp earth in a third day of burials from the siege, which officials have blamed on Chechens and other Islamic militants.
The Moscow crowd of about 130,000 people - some bearing banners saying, "We won't give Russia to terrorists" and "The enemy will be crushed; victory will be ours" - observed a moment of silence at 5 p.m. on the cobblestones near St. Basil's Cathedral, adjacent to the Kremlin.
The hourlong demonstration, which was organized by a pro-government trade union, echoed President Vladimir Putin's call for unity in vast, multiethnic Russia and sought to rally its people against enemies he says have aid from abroad.
"I have been crying for so many days and I came here to feel that we are actually together," said Vera Danilina.
Although some in Beslan have criticized Putin for not meeting survivors of the tragedy, the president has avoided the brunt of the anger over the attacks.
"Of course I support him, and it's necessary to be even more harsh with terrorists," said Galina Kiselyova, a history teacher who was at the Moscow rally. "We cannot let go of Chechnya - the Caucasus is ours."
"Putin, we're with you," read a banner at the rally.
The demonstration was heavily advertised on state-controlled television, with prominent actors appealing to citizens to turn out. Banners bore the white, blue and red of Russia's flag, and speakers echoed Putin's statements that terrorists must be crushed.
"We came here to show that we are not indifferent to the series of terrorist acts that have taken place," said Alexander, a student at a Moscow technical college who did not give his surname.
However, the 18-year-old criticized Russian authorities' handling of the hostage crisis, and noted the rally was organized by authorities who "told us where and when to come" and was not spontaneous.
Militants seized the school in Beslan on Sept. 1, a day after a suicide bombing in Moscow killed 10 people and just over a week after two Russian passenger planes crashed following explosions and killed all 90 people aboard - attacks authorities suspect were linked to the war in Chechnya.
In footage broadcast Tuesday on NTV television, hundreds of hostages were shown seated in the school's cramped gym. Many of them had their hands behind their heads. A thick streak of blood stained the wood floor.
NTV said the pictures - which showed the hostages sitting beneath a string of explosives dangling from a basketball hoop - was recorded by the assailants.
One attacker in camouflage and a black hood stood amid the hostages with a boot on what NTV said was a book rigged with a detonator.
In an interview late Monday, Putin angrily denied his government should overhaul its policy on Chechnya because of the attacks.
The world should have "no more questions about our policy in Chechnya" after the attackers shot children in the back, he told visiting foreign journalists and academics. He said the Chechen militant cause was aimed at fomenting conflict in southern Russia and breaking up the country.
"This is all about Russia's territorial integrity," he was quoted as saying.
Putin also said his government would conduct an internal investigation but no public inquiry into the siege, warning that a parliamentary probe could turn into "a political show."
Two opposition politicians have called for an investigation, including into whether the authorities had prior information about planned attacks and what the government was doing to stabilize the situation in Chechnya, where deadly fighting persists a decade after Russian forces first moved to crush separatists.
Putin rejected calls for negotiations with Chechen rebel representatives.
"Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?" Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted Putin as saying.
"You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are child-killers?"
Differing with Putin, the United States said only a political settlement could end the Chechen crisis. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said U.S. officials had met Chechens in the past, although "we do not meet with terrorists." There may be additional meetings in the future, though none is planned, he said.
The Foreign Ministry said Russia will take new steps seeking the extradition of people it says are linked with terrorism, including Chechen rebel representatives Akhmed Zakayev and Ilyas Akhmadov. Zakayev, an envoy for separatist former Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov, has been granted refugee status in Britain and Akhmadov in the United States.
Britain's Home Office Tuesday refused to comment on whether it had received a request from Moscow for Zakayev's extradition.
A prosecutor said Monday the school attackers belonged to a group led by Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basayev, and a man identified by authorities as a detained hostage-taker said on state television that he was told Basayev and Maskhadov ordered the attack.
Zakayev, in Britain, denied Maskhadov was involved and alleged the detainee's televised statement had been extracted under torture.
In a statement faxed to media, he also said official statements about the presence of Arab and African fighters among the captors was disinformation.
In his interview, Putin said 10 of the attackers were of Arab descent, one was from North Ossetia and that others belonged to various ethnic groups of the former Soviet Union.
"A readers comment"
Whats the difference between Chechen Islamic militants killing children and family court judges?
Very little. Every year, thousands of fathers are killed by torture of the gender war against fathers. Family court judges know that they engage in the process of justification, that is whittle square pegs to fit in round holes and give custody of children to mentally ill, drug addicted violent mothers when they know a perfectly acceptable father will be permanently alienated.
The Beslan parents and family are grieving the death of only a few hundred children.
In Canada, tens of thousands of fathers are permanently tortured with the never ending grief of unjust criminal offences and child / parent alienation that is many times worse than a death.
What is the difference between Stalin , Castro and family court judges?
Quite a lot, Stalin and Castro both appear as ideal suitable grandparents loved by the people for the leadership and wisdom while in reality they killed and or tortured large numbers of people because of their personality and or mental illness problems.
Many family court judges get to be judges because they are highly skilled "survivors" who are political animals and know how to make political decisions to win power and influence.
Like Stalin and Hitler, many family court judges gain absolute power and abuse that power on a daily basis. Some family court judges are so brazen about their judicial abuse of discretion that they regularly make decisions for their former clients and friends in front of the legal community with the unstated challenge of "if you dare to complain, you will have me take my revenge out on you and or your clients and if that happens you might as well move to another city where I don't hold hearings or the word will spread around town that you don't win cases because judges hate you simply because you objected to judicial corruption.
Absolute power corrupts, not all judges are corrupt but MOST are, MOST abuse their power in some way, some more obviously and blatantly than others.
If you want to know which judges abuse their power and or who are corrupt you can see the results of court room gossip and readers comments in the Canadian Judges Directory of this web site which of course is purely opinions. It is to the reader to cross check and corroborate their information. If you find any errors email this web site at ottawamenscentre @ hotmail dot com.