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Return to Beslan
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, 30 2005

ImageSince June of this year the family of Natalya Gutnova has not lived on Murmansk Street, Maikuduk (Karaganda region, Kazakhstan). Thisyoung woman’s fate has been torn in twain, into life before the Beslan tragedy, and life afterwards. Natalya and her children, little Valera and schoolgirl Galya, will spend the anniversary of that black day, September 1st, 2004, in Ossetia. Galya attends classes in a new school built on the very same spot where a year ago her older brother Zaur wasslain.

After the terrorist attack it was decided to leave the bullet-scarred, blasted school as it was, to serve as a monument to the children and teachers who died on that bloody Knowledge Day (September 1st). There would be a new school for Beslan. Andtime willtell.

North Ossetia is located thousands of miles from Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Butonce again our peaceful city takes another’s grief to its breast.

No one is immune from troubles, if there is at least one place in the world where bloodletting goes on. After September 11th, 2001, the world thought that a more terrible tragedy could never happen. Butafter the calamity in New York there was Nord-Ost, then Beslan. Backthen all of us prayed for our peaceful country, which keeps her citizens from bloodshed and war. ButKaraganda residents even before this have been shocked that tragedy could be so close. Theattack on Dubrovka took the life of young Karaganda schoolgirl Sasha Letyago. Shewill forever remain 13yearsold.

Zaur Gutnov, who was born in Karaganda, was slain in Beslan.

Our city has never been surprised about international marriages. Russian Natasha and Ossetian Vladimir Gutnov met in Karaganda. Theyfell in love, wed, and then Zaur was born, followed by Galya. Volodya managed to persuade his wife to move to his hometown, the small, quiet city of Beslan. While riding in a taxi van back in Karaganda, Natasha heard on the van’s radio that terrorists had seized the school. Sherushed home, turned on the television, and saw footage of the terrible tragedy.

Volodya did not phone until the next day. Every TV station had have already shown terrible images of assault, and the wounded and dead children. Vladimir said: “Natasha, don’t blame me, it’s not my fault.”

He cried, and begged forgiveness

Natalya could not understand why he would blame himself, and could not grasp that her son had died. Volodya could not immediately identify little Zaur; he was so terribly mutilated. Allthe children were as if one bloodymass.

Natalya brought Zaur to this school for the first time when he started 1st Grade. Healways did well in school. In3rd Grade he got all 4's, which according to the Ossetian grading system were straight A’s. OnSeptember 1st, 2004, the boy went to school by himself, without his parents. Natasha by this time had returned to Karaganda to live with her mother. Living in Beslan is not easy for a Russian woman family problems are followed by ones of nationality. After the family underwent a complete split, her husband categorically stated that he would not give up his eldest son. Inthe Caucasus this is the norm. Notrue Georgian, Chechen, or Ossetian would give up his eldest son to his wife. Natasha brought their other two children back to Karaganda, but her heart ached for her oldest boy every day. Zaurwas also very upset by the separation from his mother, sister, and brother. Hewished he could go to Karaganda.

Hearing the terrible news, Natalya hurried to get ready to return to Ossetia, to stand by the grave of her son, but at such moments of terrible grief the power of money makes itself known. Justto fly to Moscow costs 50thousand tenge (~$350), and at this time Gutnova was living on the meager wages of her parents. Volodya did not support his family. Thewoe of a mother who had lost her son in far-away Ossetia was felt in the hearts of Karaganda residents. Monetary support was soon provided, and not just by the city Akim (mayor) and journalists, but also by various city firms and even many retirees. Natasha Gutnova was able to travel to Beslan, but the pain from it all never lessened.

Relatives there would not even let her have a copy of the child’s death certificate. Volodya acted like a complete stranger, and tried to avoid meeting his ex-wife.

Afterwards, Natalya Gutnova would not even think about again returning to North Ossetia, and a year without her eldest son passed as if a bad dream. Added to heartache were serious financial problems. ButKaraganda residents did not leave the family in distress, even though, legally, the responsibility for payments and most other benefits for victims of the terrorist attack should have been taken on by Russia. Sooner or later every tragedy becomes a question of money. Money cannot return one’s son, but the living must still live on somehow. Thespiritual emptiness from the loss of her son has been made worse by the openly hostile behavior of Zaur’s father. Oncelittle Varela was scalded by boiling water and was hospitalized for a long time and Galya is often sick, but Zaur’s father has completely forgot his other two children in Karaganda. Asbest they could, Natasha’s parents tried to make ends meet and provide a normal family existence.

But now Natalya has moved to Beslan, and intends to sue her former spouse. Theyoung woman must prove that she is the mother of the slain Zaur, and has legal rights. This, of course, is an unpleasant procedure. Gutnova and her children live in Beslan with her girlfriend Natasha, and hopes to receive justice at last. Itis highly likely, however, that Natasha and her children will once again be forced to return to Karaganda.

Aviatrek Region

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