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To Beslan to her son'sgrave
Written by   
, 15 2004

ImageKaraganda boy was shot during the terrorist attack

Zaur Gutnov, a ten year-old boy from our city, was slain by terrorists. Right after an explosion in the school gym, when a collapsing wall opened an escape route for the hostages. Theboy, however, did not make it. Hismother, who lives in Karaganda, could not find the money to make a dash to Beslan. Natalya Gutnova watched the explosions and shootings at the Ossetian school on television, but only after the funeral of herson.

The photograph, crossed by a black ribbon of mourning, shows a laughing boy. Hewas born in Karaganda, where his parents Russian Natalya and Ossetian Vladimir met and were married. Soonthe young family with Zaur and his young sister Galya moved to Beslan, where the boy attended first grade. I've been there (to his school) a few times, recalls Natalya, a nice young woman in a black scarf of mourning. Herhead is swollen, and her eyes dull. It’s a normal school. Notvery big, in an old building. Itook Zaur there.

The last time Natalya Gutnova saw her oldest son was a year ago. Thefamily relationship soured, and she and her husband divorced. Pregnant, and with her young daughter in her arms, she went back home to her mother in Karaganda. Zaurstayed in Northern Ossetia with his father and grandmother. Themother-in-law did not wish to part with her grandson. Natalya says that she agreed to part with her son because she worried that a new academic program in the school of another country might throw the boy, who was earning straight A’s. Thisyear Zaur entered the 4thgrade.

They shot everyone

That a terrorist attack had happened, that they'd seized the school, Ifound this out at 9o’clock on September 1st, Natalya said quietly. I heard it on the radio while Iwas riding in the van taxi. Iwent home and right away Iturned on the television. Igrabbed the phone, but Icouldn't get hold of anyone (in Beslan). Theonly person Igot was a neighbor who didn't know much. Hewas very elderly. Hewould only say that his wife and grandchildren were also hostages. Icontinued calling my (Beslan) friends and acquaintances. Finally the wife of a friend confirmed that, yes, School 1, where Zaur was a student, had been seized and that he was one of the hostages there. Later, on the 2nd, my sister called my friend. Andhe led us to hope. Hesaid that Zaur got away and was being evacuated with his grandmother. Webelieved that he was alive. Butlater, on the 3rd of September, when Iwas watching television and saw how everything had been blown up and how the children ran off, that evening Icalled my husband. Hesaid that Zaur had been killed. Whenthey said he got away, obviously they had just been trying to calm me down. Since the 1st and right up until the very last day, when he was buried, Ihadn't closed my eyes. Icouldn't sleep. Ifonly he hadn't been there, but he had so many friends, acquaintances among the children in that school. Almost all of them were there. HowZaur died, Idon't know a thing. Nowall sorts of rumors are going around, but only one thing is known for sure: when the hostages started running away after the explosion, he didn't make it. Manychildren were stuck with him. Theterrorists shot them all.


After the tragic news Natalya had only one thought to go to her son, by any way possible. Herrelatives were unable to collecting enough money for the trip, however, and the unfortunate mother did not want to burden anyone else with her grief. Whenthey buried those who were slain at Beslan, one of the homes on a street in Maikuduk held awake.

“I watched Zaur's funeral on television,” Natalya continued, almost in a whisper. “I saw many of our acquaintances, and him as well. Anice, affectionate boy. Henever refused to do anything. You'd just ask and he'd do it. Agentle, loving boy.”

The road to her son's grave

Last week local officials learned about the plight of the Karaganda resident. Theypromised to help, if they were asked. Television journalists from one of the local stations wrote Natalya about contacting the district Akim (Kazakhstani city administration). Thewoman was in such a dire condition that she could not place her signature under the text of her application. Theletter was sent to the Akimat. Thenext day she received a call from the district manager, who confirmed that the Akim would help the mother travel to Beslan, to her son's grave. Thetickets were ready in three days, and on Sunday Natalya is to fly to Moscow, then on to Vladikavkaz.

If you are able of helping out Natalya Gutnova, you may do this by calling or coming down to the offices of this paper. Oryou may transfer money to a bank account in the name of Natalya’s mother: AO Bank Turan-Alem, account 0301019189. RNN301910907349 in the name of Chernova, Galina Sagityanovna.

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