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Beslan Mothers moved to after the holidays
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, 05 2011
A meeting scheduled for yesterday between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and the mothers of children killed in the Beslan school failed to take place. Thismeeting was sought by the victims for several years, and its organizers were finally able to settle all the formalities, but still the ceremony was a miss.

Only two mothers traveled to the Kremlin: Susanna Dudiyeva and Elvira Tuayeva. Bothrepresent the 'Beslan Mothers' organization. Representatives of 'Voice of Beslan' were not invited to the meeting.

Here is how the invitation took place: In February, the president flew to Vladikavkaz for a meeting of the National Counter-terrorist Committee. Theroad from the airport runs past the cemetery, where victims (of the September 2004terrorist attack) are buried, and the president stopped there to honor their memory. Twowomen Elvira Tuayeva and Mzia Kokoity were able to approach Medvedev and exchange a few words with him. Others, however, were unable to get through, and remained outside the cordon with their handmade posters.

Both Elvira and Mzia are on the 'Beslan Mothers' committee, and it was these two mothers who came up to him at the cemetery that the president wanted to see in Moscow. Atan internal meeting, however, the mothers decided that it would be advisable to send the organization's chairwoman, Susanna Dudiyeva to see the president, instead of Mzia Kokoity.

But 'Voice of Beslan' which carries the same authority as 'Beslan Mothers' insisted on the need for a representative at the meeting, and wanted to convey to Medvedev, the real truth about the Beslan tragedy. Their website published an appropriate appeal, and the news was widely dispersed on the web. Yesterday afternoon, Ella Kesayeva, chairwoman of 'Voice', worried that the event, to which she was not invited but was anxiously awaited for so long by all Beslan residents, would not take place. Rumors are flying around, (according to Kesayeva) such as:

They now wish to cancel the meeting. Ostensibly it is because of our appeal that it will not happen. Forso many years we have been trying to have this conversation, and now they'll make it all look as if we are to blame for meeting breaking down.

By evening it became known that Ella had good reason to worry: instead of the president, the women ended up speaking with the president's envoy Khloponin, and the main visit was postponed until after the (Labor Day and World War IIVictory) holidays.

It is not ruled out that at a future meeting that the Beslan delegation might expand, thought is is clear that an invitation to the Kremlin is not some winning lottery ticket to be paid to whomever makes his way first to the President. Even if one of us managed to make it that day to see Medvedev, they'd find another reason not to invite us, said Kesayeva.

'Voice of Beslan' was formed as a result of quarrels and divisions within 'Beslan Mothers'. Overtime there arose many contradictions in the aims of the organizations, which earlier seemed identical, but differed in method. 'Voice of Beslan' is L'Enfant Terrible among Ossetian public organizations. Itdoes not shy away from bold criticism of the leaders of the republic and Russia as a whole, and a precedent was set when one of their appeals was recognized by a court to be extremist. Fromtime to time court cases are brought against members of its committee on any frivolous violation possible, and 'Voice of Beslan even had its status as a legal entity taken away as a result of some small intrigue at the local level. Because of this, 'Voice of Beslan' came with its claim before the European Court.

'Beslan Mothers' is also considered to be part of the opposition (to the government), but it works with the system. Theyprefer consistent, well thought-out actions with all diplomatic decorum. Itis probably this reason that the local authorities chose 'Mothers' to carry on the conversation about the Beslan tragedy, while throwing all sorts of obstacles in front of 'Voice of Beslan'.
It is difficult to say, however, which methods of social struggle are more efficient.

The committees are not at war with each other, and collaborate and discuss their next steps, including the planned meeting with the president. Itis likely, that had representatives of both organizations been invited, this would have had little effect on the content. According to Ella Kesayeva, the main issues that it would be put before the President is the investigation and a bill on the status of victims of terrorist acts that is stuck in committee*. Butthe fact is, will nuances the 'Beslan Mothers' intend to delve into with the President be exactly the same? Itis inevitable: what else could they talk about with the head of state? Whatelse might take place?

Of course, it is not just what the Beslan residents say to the President that is important: what is important is what good may come out of this conversation, if indeed it is even held. In2005, victims were invited to meet with Vladimir Putin **. Themeeting got emotional, and other than a meeting, nothing came out of it all.

* The legal status of 'victim of terrorist attack' in the present Terrorism Law has yet to be determined. Compensation of victims is the responsibility of the terrorists themselves. TheState's role in fate of these people is no greater than for any other socially disadvantaged citizen. Achild mutilated in the Beslan school is formally listed as a disabled child, while adults are listed as having a work injury.
** 'Voice of Beslan' did not attend back then: the audience with Putin was scheduled for September 2nd, and on that day many mothers were gathering to mourn their loved ones at the cemetery.

In 'Novaya Gazeta'



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