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European terror victim network France-Europe-Beslan
Written by   
, 20 2011

      Rosa Malsagova / RFIThe final working day of the 7th International Congress on Victims of Terrorism was held in Paris's Grand-Palais. Representing Russia were Irina Halay, victim of the September 1999Volgodonsk terrorist attack, Aneta Gudiyeva, co-chair of the 'Beslan Mothers' committee, and Svetlana Gubareva, herself a hostage at 'Nord-Ost' and lost her husband and 13-year-old daughter in that attack.

Russians never noticed that their country ended up sharing company with Israel and Iraq these countries are places where more frequently than anywhere else in the world there are reports of terrorist attacks. Evenapart from the regular excesses in the North Caucasus, the subway bombings, seizures of concert halls, and attacks on airliners would be enough to make Russia a world leader in terrorism. Thatit is “international” which the authorities oftentimes proudly report does not make it any easier on the Russians.

The government has turned out to be incapable either unable, or unwilling to protect its citizens from terrorists. Whenpeople are affected by these troubles, their loving country denies any responsibility and even worse denies them rehabilitation and compensation.

At the meeting in the Grand-Palais, victims told the press of their problems investigating terrorist attacks, and about the adoption of a law on the status of victims of a terrorist attack. “If there is a hell on earth, it was a hell of Beslan,” said Aneta Gudiyeva, co-chair of the 'Mothers of Beslan' committee. Onher second day of captivity, former Ingush President Ruslan Aushev led her and her baby from the ill-fated Beslan school gymnasium. Hereldest daughter remained behind todie.

Aneta Gudiyeva: “We are trying be heard. Notjust in our own country, but around the world. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources, nor the opportunities, in order to be duly heard and in our country and around the world. Thisforum cannot solve all our problems, but it a step towards ensuring that the scourge of terrorism is defeated. Until there are uniform policies around the world, however, people, and, above all, children, will continue to be killed.”

 ,   -, Rosa Malsagova / RFI'Volga-Don' chairman Irina Halay is proof that, until last year, people injured in the Volgodonsk terror attack were officially forbidden from receiving medical documentation (of their status). Eventoday they are considered victims of some kind of an accident.

15,380 were affected by the Volgodonsk terror attack, but at the time it was officially announced that only about 350were injured and maimed. Irina Halay, according to a decree by a Russian court, received 7rubles (about 25cents) in compensation from the perpetrators of the terrorist attack.

Irina Halay: “The State is required to protect human life, not just victims of a terrorist attack. Itis responsible for everything that happens in Russia, but, unfortunately, this is only on paper. Anyopportunity we have to speak at the international level is very important for us, since Russia listens only to an international voice.”

Left alone in their grief are the disabled former hostages, as well as mothers who lost their children and children who lost their parents. Theyare all trying to uncover the truth, which, in their opinion, the State buries along with the victims.

Lyudmila Dubinskaya, victim of the Volgodonsk terrorist attack: “Long ago, my hate for the terrorists gave way to my hatred for the State, which deprives me of everything. Fouryears of homelessness in my own native city has been worse than the terrorist attack.”

  , Rosa Malsagova / RFIThe search for truth by those who lost loved ones at 'Nord-Ost' and in Beslan and Volgodonsk has made its way to Strasbourg. Attorney Karinna Moskalenko represents the victims before the European Court (of Human Rights). Shealso attended theforum.

RFI: Russian citizens are seeking protection in Europe. Doesthis mean that Russia cannot protect its own citizens?

Karinna Moskalenko: “Russia, of course, is able to protect its citizens if she has the will to do so. Allof my clients, unfortunately, whose case Irepresent at the European Court of Human Rights relate to their situation as victims of terrorist attacks or victims of anti-terrorist activities, and they cannot find understanding in their own country. There has never been a real terrorism law established in Russia, and even where there are effective mechanisms of protection, they are all but reduced to null by misuses of the laws. Asa result and this is probably the most important indicator victims file complaints against the State. Thenecessity, the need to find out the truth about what happened to them or their loved ones is a real right guaranteed by international standards of human rights. There can be no apologies or explanations for concealment of such a truth. Making reference to official secrets cannot be taken into account.”

RFI: Why is it that in situations where police forces should have been involved, they were not? Howis it possible that Alpha-force commandos arrived on the scene only 40minutes after it began? Whydid the gassed hostages at 'Nord-Ost' die, and why did the physicians not even know what to do to save thedying?

Karinna Moskalenko: “All these bombings and hostage-taking were a result of the war unleashed in Chechnya. TheState does not fulfill its function of protecting the lives of its citizens. Moreover it contributes to their death.

“The Russian state is not homogeneous, and Ibelieve that within the Russian government there are forces who do not wish the truth to be made known to the entire public, especially victims of these terrorist attacks. According to a concept that exists at the European Court of Human Rights, a violation of the right to life is recognized not only in cases where the State itself takes the life of people, but in cases where the State fails to comply with its positive obligations in protecting the right to life. Ifhostage taking has already taken place, however, as happened at in Beslan and at 'Nord-Ost', then it is necessary to minimize casualties. How? Thismeans negotiations, which the Russian government, in fact, refused. Rescuing people must be done at all costs, except, for example, when it may have an even higher cost. Whatdid the Russian government consider too high a price to pay? Inthe explanation included with documents from the office of the prosecutor investigating the 'Nord-Ost' case, it is stated that the Russian authorities could not diminish the authority of the Russian state in the international arena. Thatis all that the public has a right to know.”

RFI: From a juridical point of view, is the statement of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, that “we do not talk with terrorists,” a statement that entails (the deaths of) hundreds of victims, is this punishable?

Karinna Moskalenko: “The refusal to negotiate, the rejection of any possibility of minimizing losses and perhaps bringing them to zero, this is a very large omission on the part of the State. Wedo not know who exactly is the ideologue behind this omission Didthis idea initially belong to Putin or someone else? Perhaps there was someone in charge of the (hostage rescue) headquarters who held that position, but the important thing is that Vladimir Putin also shared this attitude, which seems to me to be absolutely wrong. Itis a wrong understanding of (national) pride, because if a person had loved ones at 'Nord-Ost', then he knows that he would go in for any kind of negotiations that could save them. Ifthe people there are for you like some unloved stepchild, perhaps you might hold to such a proud position, that we will not do this or that. Ithink the Russian authorities understand that their refusal to negotiate was a great failure on their part, because, in response to the European Court's questions about negotiations, they pretend that people who came to 'Nord-Ost' were their messengers, their negotiators. Itwas never so! Thepeople who came were cultural figures, journalists, and singers everyone except for the officials whom the terrorists demanded. There were certain demands. Butwe do not bow before terrorists, we will not go to them! Butif we are talking about saving lives, why is there an argument? Myinterpretation of this necessity is completely opposite. There was, in my view, the necessity for negotiations. Thiswas the task of the State, and the State simply did not cope.”

RFI: What do you think, do your clients have any chance of finding out the truth in Strasbourg, or will international relations take precedence?

Karinna Moskalenko: “Relations between nations already have the upper hand, but this has no bearing on the European Court. TheEuropean Court found the 'Nord-Ost' complaint to be acceptable, and for a variety of issues. Notonly on positive obligation (of the State) regarding the right to life, but also under its obligation not to deprive life. Theuse of gas, in fact, claimed many lives. Thismeans that if a violation is found regarding the right to life, then the State should investigate the matter in this light. Backthen they should have named all of the 'heroes': those who made the decision and those who carried it out. Theresult of such a decision by the European court should be a proper investigation, and so we are really looking forward to their decision, and also in terms of compensation. Itis unacceptable that a victim has to go to court for years the first time Ifaced this was in the Chernobyl case it is a horribly ugly phenomenon that a victim has to go to court years, seeking payment of an appropriate, worthy amount of compensation.”

Svetlana Gubareva is a citizen of Kazakhstan and was among the hostages in the theater at Dubrovka. After the commando operation, her 13-year-old daughter Sasha and American fiancée Sandy Booker died because they did not receive timely medical assistance. TheRussian justice system refuses to recognize her as a victim.

Svetlana Gubareva: “The State has responsibilities with respect to victims, responsibilities that it does not carry out. Iunderstand that it is often impossible to prevent (terrorist attacks), but the government should have an adequate response to help the victims of a terrorist attack.”

      ()   , Rosa Malsagova / RFI

One last detail: attorney Karinna Moskalenko, who also represents the interests of the Beslan committee, the Volgodonsk bombing victims, as well as the 'Nord-Ost' hostages, was not given the floor during the last day of the International Congress of Victims of Terrorism.

This remains a mystery to many forum members, but not for Moskalenko. Theorganizer of the France-Europe-Beslan forum, Christian Maton, apparently does not wish to aggravate relations with Russia, especially since French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have such closeties.

In ‘RFI’:

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