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The memorial candles of Beslan
Written by Роберт Келлер   
Вторник, 31 Август 2010

Заур ГутновIt is the sixth year that the calendar page pauses intolerably long on the terrible date of September 1st, and Galina Sagityanovna's family lights a memorial candle. Her grandson Zaur Vladimirovich Gutnov, who died at the hands of terrorists, was born in Maikuduk, Kazakhstan. These days grandma accompanies Zaur's younger brother, first-grader Valera, to Karaganda School #35.  Galina Gutnova will attend the newly rebuilt Beslan School #1.  The tragedy has divided this family's life into «before the terror act» and «after».


A children's Golgotha


One cannot fail to remember.  Accomplices of Shamil Basaev did not err in their selection of a date for their monstrous crime, the beginning of the school year. There had been terror acts before Beslan, and after it, but this remains one of most ruthless and grotesque actions in the history of world terrorism.

Government authorities have still not given a straight answer: was it known at the highest levels of government that rebel fighters were preparing for September 1, 2004?


Many families left Beslan in order to forget the terrible tragedy, and get on with their lives.  Former Karaganda resident Natalya Gutnova, on the other hand, returned to where her 10-year-old Zaur perished. Today he would have been sixteen. 1128 persons, mostly women and children, were taken hostage by the terrorists. On Basaev's orders they were held for three days under the cruelest conditions, and given neither food nor water.  On September 3rd, after the gunmen had shot several hostages, Russian special forces went on the assault. There is evidence that during the barrage of the school flamethrowers, mortars and tanks were put to use. Zaur went to school alone on that day. He was shot when, after a series of explosions in the school gymnasium, he tried to escape.  As a result of this act of terror 330 people perished, including more than 180 children. Several more casualties were to be added later, as injured hostages died from their wounds and infections.  Ten officers of the Russian FSB and two from the emergency ministry died during the hostage rescue operation.  55 law-enforcement officers and soldiers received various injuries.  And the Beslan school building was destroyed.


From Karaganda to Beslan


During those days of mourning Karaganda residents felt the Gutnov family's grief as if it were their own.  Zaur's mother and grandmother left Karaganda and traveled to Beslan. Money for the trip was donated from around the entire world.  This September 1st marks the sixth anniversary of this horrific act of terror. The residents of North Osetia, just as they did during those terrible days, will again dress in black and remember those who died at the hands of the monsters.  Standing by the walls of the destroyed school, and in the memorial cemetery, will be Natalya and Galina Gutnova.  They have been living in North Osetia for three years. Valera Gutnov, before going to school, will help grandma put a photograph within a black frame of mourning.  The memorial candle will illuminate Zaur's face.  He will forever be ten years old…  On this day scarlet flowers will lay on the graves of children and adults, who smile from their headstone portraits.  We need this memory, so that something similar may never be repeated.  Flowers will cover the foot of the Tree of Grief monument at Beslan School #1, as well as inside the school’s scorched gymnasium. In memory of the slain innocents, a bell will sorrowfully peal within the grounds of the wrecked school.   White balloons will rise into the endless autumn sky, as if they were the pure souls of these murdered children and their parents.  One of the balloons will be in memory of a boy from Karaganda named Zaur Gutnov.


This year the Mothers of Beslan Committee decided on September 2nd to hold a requiem concert, called Memory of the Heart.  Poems and songs dedicated to tragedy will be heard.  And there will be another important event — the archbishop of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, His Holiness Father Theofan, will bless the erection of an Orthodox cross on the grounds of the destroyed school, and an Orthodox cathedral will be built on the site where hostages perished at the hands of terrorists.

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