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How much an act of terrorcosts
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, 02 2007

By Gennady Savchenko, Alexander Sidyachko, poll conducted by Alexander Sargin.
Materials published 27.02.2007 in 'Gazeta' #35.

Osetian members of parliament demand a law covering the victims of terrorists

Soon the Parliament and government will act on an appeal signed today by Northern Osetian member of the Russian parliament, Larisa Khabitsova, which requests a federal law to govern social support for those suffering as a result of acts of terror. Itis unclear, though, if this appeal will lead to a specific legislative initiative and a government resolution, or if the matter will be limited to a lot of hot air. Russia, however, still reels from the effects of the 19992003wave of terror, and, paraphrasing Suvorov, no act of terror is over until all its victims have received assistance and rehabilitation.

The text of the appeal notes that the republic's government agencies have received numerous appeals from citizens who suffered as a result of terrorist acts, asking for assistance in treatment, restoration of housing, and in determining their status and the amount of social support. Thenation's existing legal system does not address these problems.

In particular, legislation has not even determined the status and meaning of a victim of an act of terror, and no specific delineation exists between to responsible federal and local governmental bodies in providing assistance to the victims of acts of terror, nor has the amount of compensation been determined.

Beslan = Chernobyl

In reality, this initiative was started by the victims of terror themselves, stated Azamat Khadikov, the initiator of the appeal and deputy representative from Northern Osetia to the Russian parliament, in an interview with 'Gazeta'. Heexplained: We were always running into victims of terrorism, so we decided to study the existing legislation and came to the conclusion that it was incomplete and, for the most part, protects the interests of government employees. That is, the interests of service members, members of the special services and MChS (Disaster Ministry), those whose duty is to prevent and handle acts of terror, but not the interests of the average citizen who usually is the victim of a terrorist attack.

Article 21of the law titled Countering Terrorism specifically states the amount of compensation and rules of payment to persons who participate in the struggle against terrorism, as well as their relatives. Butwith regards to the usual victims, Article 18of the same law states that it is to be decided by other government resolutions. In practice this leads to confusion. Itis not understood why victims of the Beslan tragedy are receiving compensation according to one scheme, while let's say, those who suffered as a result of the blasts in the Vladikazkaz marketplace are paid according to a different one, says Khadikov.

As an example, Khadikov brought up the law governing the status of participants in the disaster at the Chernobyl atomic energy station, where these questions are specifically addressed. Why can't they make the very same law with regards to all victims of terror? heasks.

In reply to a question from 'Gazeta' as to why the Osetian parliament had not prepared such legislation and then offered it to the Gosduma (federal parliament), since it has to right to do this, Khadikov replied that the peoples' selectmen were going to, and that the text of the law was already being workedout.

The MPs, however, wished first to receive approval in the legislatures of other federal subject states, which will also be receiving the appeal, even though they are not required to. TheMPs understand the necessity of adopting such a law, but do not wish to take on the individual responsibility.

What use is the law?

'Gazeta' turned to attorney Igor Trunov, who represents the interests of the victims of the act of terror at Dubrovka ('Nord-Ost'), for commentary. Heappraised the Osetian parliamentarians' initiative as a positive one, expressing hope that a law governing the status of terror victims would be adopted, and noted that the federal authorities have not yet shown any great interest: The Gosduma MPs prefer to speak at roundtables, but they are never in a hurry to get anything done. This appeal, in the attorney's opinion, contains some unnecessary positions. Inparticular, he believes that the question on the status of the victims of acts of terror is rather too specific: a victim of an act of terror is a person who has suffered a loss in a criminal case involving terrorism.

Trunov believes that the key point in the North Osetian parliament's appeal is the one covering the payment of compensation. Heholds the same opinion as the Osetian MPs, that a federal law must determine the amounts. Moreover, Trunov indicated, the government must take upon itself the responsibility for paying for moral (psychological) damage of the victims. According to his data, judges closely examined 62lawsuits brought by victims of the 'Nord-Ost' case. Alldemands for payment of moral damages were refused. Article 18of the law titled Countering Terrorism states that moral damages must be extracted from fines taken from the terrorists. But this is absurd! declared the attorney. They don't remain alive as a rule, and if they do, what can they pay with? Howmuch can Nurpasha Kulaev earn in prison?

Skeptics

Victims of acts of terror are skeptical about the law's prospects of being adopted, even though they admit that it is sorely needed. The government is very afraid of wasting money, said Dmitry Milovidov, sharing his suggestions with 'Gazeta'. So Ithink that they'll save money on our account to the very end. There are too many of us in the country. Dmitry Milovidov is a member of the coordinating council of the Russian community organization 'Nord-Ost', into which the relatives of victims at the theatrical center have united. Henotes that even of the 100thousand rubles (about$4000) paid to the relatives of the dead, a large part was lost: burial expenses, inheritance taxes, and other expenses. Why this ridiculous frugality? he asks. After all, it should've been possible to increase the compensation. Itturns out that the government gives compensation with one hand, while it takes it back with the other.

Trunov believes that a similar trap can by avoided only by using the lessons of foreign countries. Itis necessary to create a compensation fund, into which would go all the funds confiscated from terrorists and terrorist organizations, as well as voluntary contributions, at least at the start. Nowadays voluntary donations disappear in unknown directions, and it's become a profitable business. Ihave serious suspicions that this business is also funding terrorism, because certain entrepreneurs are interested in acts of terror being committed over and over again, said Trunov, though he refused to specify exactly whom he meant in particular.

There is another danger. Letus say that Moscow accepts this appeal and the law is adopted, but then they forget to work out a mechanism for its carrying-out. Itwill look like the government is taking action but no real changes willoccur.

Finally, there is another consideration, and perhaps the most essential one. Theycertainly do not want to waste money on the victims of terror, but the loss of prestige to national image is even more substantial. Alexey Makarin, assistant director of the Center for Political Technology, spoke to 'Gazeta' about one of these: Inevitably we compare themselves to the West. Howmuch did they pay to the victims of September 11th, and how much our people were paid. TheKremlin is at the very bottom. Dothey need it to be like this?

Compensation throughout the world for terror victims or their relatives

Israel:

Various governmental departments determine compensation for damage as a result of acts of terror. Forexample, to receive compensation for physical loss, the victims must have medical and psychological examinations, and the amount of payment depends on the results of the exams. Damage is measured in percentages. If, in the evaluation of the officials, a person suffered 20% loss as a result of an act of terror, then the compensation will be exactly 20% of the minimum wage (last year the minimum wage was 3,335 Shekels or$795 per month). Ifa family loses one of its members, it is paid a monthly benefit of from 5,000 to 7,000 Shekels ($1,200 to$1,650).

Great Britain:
The Criminal Injury Compensation Service makes payments to victims of illegal acts of terror. Victims are to apply there, and pass through a series of commissions. Specialists evaluate the physical and psychological health and determine how much the victim or his property has suffered. Damage is measured in 'balls'. There are 25levels of compensation, ranging from 1,000 to 250,000 Pounds Sterling ($1,900 to$490,000). Ifa victim can prove that, as the result of an act of terror, he lost money or had to make personal expenditures, then the benefit amount can climb to up to 500,000 Pounds Sterling ($980,000).

USA:
The compensation fund for victims of September 11th was created by a special act of congress immediately after the act of terror. TheUS attorney general at the time, John Ashcroft, named Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg to the post of director of this fund. Overthe course of the 33months of the fund's existence, Feinberg worked pro bono (i.e.: for the good of the public and without pay). Feinberg's task was to calculate how much compensation the family of everyone who died or was crippled was to receive. Forthis he had to estimate how much each person could have earned during his entire life had he not suffered. Ifrelatives disagreed with the assigned amount and refused to accept it, then they could contest the amount in court. During the fund's existence American courts heard 1,600 appeals, during 900of which Feinberg personally represented the fund. Bythe end of the fund's work 97% of the families had received compensation in the amount of about$7 billion.

Do you see any support for victims of acts of terror on the part of the government?

Ella Pamfilova, head of the president's council for developing institutes of civil society and human rights:
Wherever this support is lacking, or insufficient, it is painfully obvious to me. People do not come to me when everything is fine. Theyonly come to me with complaints and problems. Unfortunately, we have no single standard for protecting and helping the victims of acts of terror. Invarious regions the matter is handled differently, depending on the willingness and abilities of the local authorities, but there is no single federal protection, and there still is no effect system of medical and psychological rehabilitation on the government level. Thisis sorely needed by the victims.

Tatiana Karpova, cochairman of the regional organization Cooperative defense fund for victims of acts of terror:
"We see no support whatsoever! Wehave a victim who after the gas attack at 'Nord-Ost' gave birth to a child with cerebral palsy. Weappealed to Zubarov and asked for at least some help in financing for child's treatment outside the country. Wefound out that after such treatment there is hope that the child may be able to move around on its own, and asked him for a decision.

"The mother of this child got an interesting response, which read: 'If the health minister were to send children with such illnesses outside the country, it could undermine the prestige of the nation's medical institutions'.

And another case: last year we conducted a presentation of the book 'The incomplete investigation of the act of terror at Dubrovka'. Iremember that everyone came running: Shvetsova, General Vasilev, Gudkov, Gurov, Pamfilova, Torshin. Theywere afraid that the book contained specific materials from volumes and pages of the criminal case. Theyspoke with us tenderly and offered us vacations if we would not publish the book, and so, last summer, many hostages from 'Nord-Ost' went to sanatoriums and rest homes. Butthen we went ahead and published the book anyway.

Vladimir Vasilev, representative of the Gosduma security committee:
"We knew how to change the situation in the sense of the terrorist threat, and legislatively, as well as organizationally, this is noticeable and obvious. Buthere we still need to solve the problem of removing the long-term consequences (of the acts of terror).

"There is no easy answer here. Thefirst scheme that the world community lives by is insurance against risks, and we have a series of legal projects heading in this direction. Insurance of such a type, however, for objects, which, let us say, are of a trivial nature, this essentially limits their prospects of existence and development. Therefore we must find complex answers. Inseveral countries there are funds that participate in these processes, so it is a very extensivetopic.

We provide assistance to the victims of acts of terror, but it is insufficient and undifferentiated. Theyoften use supplemental regional help, that is, they are granted compensation (by the local authorities), but such assistance has to be paid for by the (federal) government! Weneed greater resources, legal foundations, and an intelligent system with corresponding mechanisms.

Sazhi Umalatova, representative of the Russian 'Peace and Unity' political party:
Before anything, I'd like to see the government providing for the impossibility of an act of terror ever occurring. Butif people have suffered, it means that the government was unable to protect them. Ifthey were unable to protect, this means that they should permanently care for them and their underage children, if they have any.


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