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Here there will be no religion or politics
Written by   
, 01 2010

ImageOn September 1, 2004, terrorists seized a school in Beslan. Onthe third day the hostages were freed. 336people, most of them children, were killed. Sixyears later, Beslan preserves the destroyed school, is raising funds for the treatment of victims, and doe not expect any help from Russian authorities.

Among the hostages in the school Muslims were also killed

Beslan, high noon, School lane takes us to the ruins of School No. 1. Overthe course of these years the destruction has become even more pronounced. Thegymnasium, where they kept the hostages and where many were killed, they taped up photographs, children's drawings, and poetry. Thewooden floor has a large black hole where the bomb that was hanging overhead exploded on September 3rd. Black charred beams under the roof are a reminder of the terrible fire. Abroken dormer window and a bent basketball hoop are confirmation of one of the versions of the stories the hostages tell about the explosions being triggered by a shot from a neighboring apartment building, in which were located special troops. Thehuge windows, through which jumped children, tormented by thirst, and ran not for cover, but to a water fountain on Sept. 3rd, 2004. There they fell, slain in the crossfire.

In the center of the gym there is a large wooden cross. Whenthey brought it in, one of the victims pulled the cross from the hands of the priest and took it outside. Here there will be no religion or politics! he said. Butit did not work without religion. The cross remained. Andrecently in town the rumor was that next to the gymnasium in the school cafeteria, where on the first day of school seizure people were shot, and later hostages hid there to save themselves, bullet holes in the shattered plaster of the wall created an image. Nunsfrom the Monastery of Alania in Alagir, they looked at it and said that it was the image of Christ. Nowto this place return those who were trying to forget that nightmare six years ago. Religion has proven to be popular, and, for many, it has become the only source of consolation. Maybe that's why immediately after the Beslan attack, one sect after another appeared, working with the victims in place of psychologists.

Today in Beslan they have built a new mosque. Onceit was already here, but then it was torn down and over the last year they have begun to restore it. Locals say that the head of North Ossetia, Teimuraz Mamsurov, is a Muslim, and he helps the Muslim Spiritual Administration quickly resolve such issues. Beslan residents, however, refuse to allow the mosque to be opened.

They wanted to open it in early August when the month of Ramadan started, said a member of the Beslan Mothers Committee, Rita Sidakova, who lost a daughter. But many of the victims aren't able to live with it. People say that the terrorists in the school were Muslims. Theycame here to kill our children with Allah's name on their lips. Andso, after talking with us the spiritual administration decided to hold off and not open the mosque yet.

Aslan Ilkanov, who previously worked in the Muslim Spiritual Board of North Ossetia, a few years ago became a frequent visitor to the Beslan Mothers Committee.

We wouldn't receive him for a long time, says Rita. We shouted at him, that it was his brothers who were killing our children. Buthe came and went, patiently, silently, he sat and listened to us. Hesaid it was a terrible crime against the Muslims, too. Sowe received him. Ithink all Muslims should be like him.

Thanks to Aslan, last year for the first time Muslims were allowed to pray in the schoolyard. Theycame into the yard, spread a rug, and began reading prayers.

At first people took it very negatively, says chairman of the committee of mothers of Beslan, Susanna Dudiyeva. But then everyone realized it was wrong, these people are grieving with us. Among the hostages in the school Muslims were also killed.

Keep the hall just as it was on September 3rd.

The authorities were keen to forget about Beslan. Butthe former hostages and their relatives sought a full investigation into the attack. Atfirst they tried to quiet them down, promising that the case would be investigated and all questions would be answered. Finally Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov was sent to Osetia, and he filed several criminal cases against the North Ossetian officials, implying that many of them may suffer if the Beslan mothers did not quiet down. Apparently the goal was achieved, and no one talks about Beslan anymore.

Like the memory of the attack, the school was not to be preserved, nor this gym, either. Theyare going to demolish the school, and have convinced the mothers that it needs to be done and either way, it would fall apart. They found out, however, that there are technologies that allow the preservation of such buildings. Andsix years later, when the authorities finally managed to achieve their desired aim, and in Russia they have forgotten all about Beslan, at School No. 1work has begun on preservation of the building. Forthis purpose they hired the German construction company Knauf Kassel, which has carried out similar projects in Europe. Thebuilders have already cleared the area, removed the roof, roof beams, and window frames, leaving only the walls. According to the authors of this project, the school will be a memorial museum: one can enter the classrooms, as well as the gym.

When the German representatives visited for the first time, we told them that we wanted to preserve the wooden floor of the gym, and charred beams under the ceiling, says Susanna Dudiyeva. To keep the hall just as it was on September 3rd, this is very important to us.

In order to preserve the floor, the experts proposed to limit movement on it and lay a bridge through the windows over the hall, with this design the visitors can inspect the hall, passing through it, yet not touching the floor.

For School No. 1it is very urgent. Itcontinues to collapse because more and more people from Russian and foreign cities come every year.

Students started coming from Central Russia and Siberia, and their year-end trips now include Beslan, said Susanna Dudiyeva. Recently, at two o'clock, some students from Moscow arrived. Theywent away shaken. Herethey understood that life is not always bright, sunny days. Thatthere is good and evil. Manycome with their families. Thenthey write us that after visiting the school the relationships within their families are better. Children are changed, they realize that life is fragile and they must appreciate their loved ones.

They don't believe in anything anymore

The newly built mosque in Beslan is not open, they are afraid to offend the feelings of relatives of those who were killed by Muslim terrorists.

Many Beslan families are in dire need of psychological assistance, and sometimes psychiatric.

All families in which a child was killed have been wrecked, or live in a difficult psychological situation, says Rita Sidakova. Here, every other family is problematic.

Some children have only now began to manifest mental disorders, agrees Sveta, whose granddaughter Zalina Albegova was slain.

Susanna Dudiyeva tells about a teenager Vova Oziev, who watched his mother and brother being killed in the school. After the attack Vova came down with diabetes and also needs the help of a psychiatrist. Psychological help is also needed for his father. There is a very difficult family situation, says Susanna. We appealed to the Serbia Clinic, to Professor Kekelidze. Weare hoping that they will help.

Endocrine disorders, mental breakdowns and vision problems are now the main difficulties of those who survived the tragedy. Butthere is nowhere for them to be treated. InNorth Ossetia, the clinics and hospitals are overloaded, while getting into one of the major Russian clinics is based on a quota, which the republic receives very few slots.

In the first years after the terrorist attack the Red Cross and UNICEF came here. TheRed Cross department with its workout gym is still here, and so is UNICEF 'Binonta' Psychological Assistance Center, where they do massages and acupuncture. Butthe victims require more the assistance of psychologists.

The federal government built a medical center, but there is no pediatric department, said Susanna Dudiyeva. And even for adults who suffered from the terrorist attacks, for a long time there was no priority, we had to wait our turn. Justthis year we were able to get the parliament and the Ministry of Health let victims be examined in this center without the queue.

Really, there were no federal assistance programs for the terror victims? Iask.

The fact of the matter was that there wasn't any. There was only emergency care during the first months after the attack. Andthe RF Pension Fund allocated 20million rubles. Forthe victims. Fortwo years that money was used to send people to sanatoria to be treated. Butit was not all that easy smooth. These sanatoria were not very good, there was no water, or there residents of Ingushetia and Chechnya there on their quotes, and after the attack our people found this hard to bear, and many came back the very next day.

In an even more difficult situation today are those who were wounded during the assault and are still trying get back on their feet If the victims had direct funding from the Ministry of Public Health, many women and children would already able to walk and live full lives. Butthere is no such funding.

In addition, only recently the Beslan Mothers Committee learned about some victims. Marina Dutschko was shot in the back during the first minutes of the assault. Sheis 31, but for six of those years she was sitting in a wheelchair, and during all of those six years she has not received any assistance from the authorities.

We didn't know anything about her," says Susanna Dudiyeva. She never turned to us, and only recently did we find out by accident that she was in a tough situation. Marina Dutschko lives in a barracks-style house, very poor. Theydidn't appeal to anyone, because they don't believe in anything anymore. Butjudging from her medical records, she may get assistance. In the German clinics they get such patients up and around within a year.

The most important thing is that my mother and Children are alive

For Marina Dutschko, who ended up in a wheelchair after the attack, getting on the list of victims was a battle

I am going to visit Marina Dutschko, who lives on the outskirts of Beslan by the motorbus base. Ina yard overgrown with vines and trees is a small, one-room house, long in need of repair. Several years ago, Marina's mother, Tatiana, scraped some money together and built a kitchen with a bath onto the cottage, in order to bathe her daughter. Tatiana and her husband are retired, and besides their handicapped daughter Marina, they care for Marina's 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.

Former hostage Marina Dutschko sits in a wheelchair by a large table, and draws for me a schematic of the room in which she was with her son, sister and mother on Sep. 1st, 2004.

The first explosion was right beside us in the center of the hall, recalls a woman. After this Icould not longer feel my body. Whenthere was a second explosion, near the basketball hoop, mother crept up to me and said: Get up. Itold her: I can't, go save the children. Then Iwas alone. Everyone around me was dead and their bodies swelled right away, Idon't understand why. Sometimes the wounded were screaming. Aterrorist crawled over to me and said: Get up and get out of here. Ianswered: I can't feel my legs. He turned me on my stomach and forced to crawl on my hands to the window. Perhaps it was safer there, Idon't know. Hepicked up all the living and took them to the cafeteria. There in the cafeteria it was safer, no one died there. Thenour soldiers jumped into the gym, wearing civilian clothes, and dragged me through the gym out into the street.

On September 5th Marina was taken by Emergency Ministry cargo plane to Moscow, where, in the 37th Municipal Hospital, she was treated for a little over a month. Thensent to a sanatorium near Moscow, but one cannot seriously call this treatment cannot be serious, because Marina was prescribed only baths and massages. Shereturned home with a medical certificate, which states clearly: she does not need surgery, but rehabilitation courses. Butthere was no rehabilitation. And, after a course of massage at a local clinic, Marina became worse and could no longer feel her toes.

Tatiana helps her daughter the best she can: she bathes her, dresses her, and forces her to do her exercises. Shehas done this for this last year, having quit her job and retired. Shewould have retired earlier if she had known that as her daughter's primary caregiver she had the right to. Andso from morning until night, Tatiana worked at the factory and Marina spent five years alone in this room with the large table.

When Marina came back from Moscow, she was not on the list of victims. Ittook hard work by Tatiana to get the prosecutor's office to include her daughter on the list. They would look at me as if Iwas trying to pick their pockets, says Tatiana. And now Ithink, what is even the point behind these lists? Whenthe victims were given apartments, we were told that we were not supposed to get one; we have all the living space allowed. Herewe have all 33 square meters that's permitted. Thensomeone came out from the welfare office, we needed a wheelchair ramp, and they had our application. Andthey said: You get all the building materials and we will send some workers. Where were we supposed to get money for building materials? SoI don't go to any of those offices anymore.

During these six years, Marina began to feel her body below six centimeters below the ribs. Andwhen her mother runs her finger on the sole of her feet, Marina also feels that. Tatiana believes that if her daughter could have gone to good specialists, she would have been on her feet by now. But people like us aren't wanted. Thegovernment gives us one disposable and two washable diapers a day; even a nursing baby needs more. Allthe money that we got for her wounds, it all went to diapers.

Tatiana speaks without malice, and Marina's eyes do not despair. The most important thing is that my mother and children are alive, she says. And I'm happy that my son has stopped crying from fear in the night.

In the Magazine Vlast (Power) 34(888) from 30.08.2010

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