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Life afterdeath
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, 22 2009
On May 29th Moscow will host a charity concert by Anita Tsoy. Money raised from ticket sales is to be donated to families who lost loved ones during the seizure of the theatrical center on Dubrovka in 2002, as well as the tragedy at Beslan School No. 1in 2004. Commandos from the 'Alpha' Special Forces group will take the stage and sing a requiem in memory of the victims of terror attacks. Partof the funds will be used to create a museum in Moscow, dedicated to the victims of terrorist attacks. Andthere are tens of thousands of such victims in Russia. Among them are many disabled people, and those who are in need of psychological assistance. Today several of them do not have enough money even to buy food. Somelost an only child, or all of them at once. Orthey lost a mother. There are many people such as these, but no one needs them.
A correspondent from 'NI' visited one such family.
In her cozy kitchen, Elena Prostomolotova shows me photographs. Thepictures were taken 78years ago. There are of a young, attractive blonde. Elena Anatolevna (Prostomolotova) looks beautiful even today, younger than her years, though today she is completely different. InOctober of 2002her life ended after 'Nord-Ost'.

There's no life after the death of a child, none

But what about your grandson? Youmust go on for him.

I go on for him, but he doesn't need it. Hehas no mother, no birthday, nothing. Hehasn't found himself. He's tried it all alcohol, drugs. Nowhe draws pictures, writes poems and stories, because he's remained there, at that age, on that day when it all happened. He's also always telling me: 'You have me'. Hedoesn't understand that he can't replace my daughter. Shewas better than me, and after her death it seems that Ialso became better, because I'm always thinking: how would Sasha have done this, what would Sasha have said?

There wasn't a lifeline there

Elena Anatolevna's daughter, 31year-old Sasha Ryabova, went to the musical 'Nord-Ost' with her son Alexei. Whenthe terrorists released children, 'Lyosha' lied and said that he was 12, even though he was 2years older. Theybelieved him he looked small and frail. Theyreleased the boy. Twodays later, however, on October 26th, 2002, when Alexei turned 14, his mother was identified with difficulty at one of the capitol's morgues.

I never could've recognized her she was so swollen, said Elena Anatolevna. My friends identified her. Theauthorities gave me almost all her things her passport, and a writing book, in which she wrote me a farewell letter. Andthey gave me all her clothes.

Elena Prostomolotova is very calm on the outside, only she smokes continuously. Apack disappeared during two hours of conversation.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Iremember how she was buried. Atthe church, when they were doing the funeral service, Isaw death. Isaw it next to me, in a white shroud.

Elena Anatolevna stares at me:
I’m not nuts. Youknow, I'm good at reading palms. WhenSasha died, when Iwas by her coffin, Idecided to look at her palm. Whenmy daughter was alive, she never let me do this. She'd say something like, 'mama, I'm not showing you because you'll say that it'll come true'. Itook Sasha's hand and right away Iremembered that Isaw her hand once by accident, and what Isaw scared me so much that Iput it out of my mind right then and there. Irefused to remember it, because there wasn't a lifeline there. There just wasn't.

They only remembered us for the first two months

Everyone loves to talk about how they gave us money for our dead children, Elena Anatolevna again takes a drag on her cigarette. Yeah, they gave me 100thousand rubles for Sasha. Ithrew it away. Justlet it fly away in the wind. Certainly, Inever should've taken it. Butout of stupidity Itook it, left court, and tossed it away. Because it's funny that a human life is worth 100thousand. Bythe way, Sveta from Kazakhstan, whose husband and only child, a daughter, were killed, they didn't give her anything. Shewas from a different country.

Elena Anatolevna and Alexei today live in the same apartment that they once lived in with Sasha. Theapartment is in need of repairs, but there is no money to do it on. WhenSasha was alive she made fairly good money and supported her son and mother. After 'Nord-Ost', Elena Anatolevna became the guardian of her only grandchild. Thegovernment, besides the 100thousand, paid the boy another 50thousand, in addition to 10thousand for loss of personal property. Inaddition, Alexei was assigned welfare for the loss of his breadwinner 1,500 rubles a month, which he received regularly until he was 18. Nowit is no more: Alexei is 20and the government clearly knows its rights. Noone cares that Alexei pays tuition for college; his only support being his 58year-old grandmother. Elena Anatolevna could, of course, prove that her daughter until the moment of death was supporting her, and that would mean that she too was entitled to welfare for the loss of a breadwinner, but she did not wish to humble herself.

Everywhere they spit on us. Their position is that we're after money, and that's why we want to go to the Strasburg Court. It's not money we're after, but truth! Butthe 'Nord-Ost' case in this country is still open so we can't complain at Strasbourg, Elena Anatolevna loudly sums it up. A 14year-old child on my shoulders, could someone at least come and ask me or him what we're living on? Askwhere Iget the money to feed him? No, they only remembered us for the first two months. There was this 'Blagovest' organization. Theybrought us macaroni and buckwheat, like we were poor people. Theysent 'Lyosha' to live awhile in Holland, for a month with a family there, but for his travel there and back they took the money from me for some reason. Later Ifound out that according to their documents they paid for everything.

The terrorists' victims died from gastritis

After 'Nord-Ost' Elena Prostomolotova spend a few months in a neurology clinic. Later she got a job she had to feed her grandson. Theydecided to buy a car. Elena Anatolevna is handicapped and it is difficult for her to walk. Shefound work as a manager, but had to drive to different stores quite frequently. Sheborrowed money from friends for the car, a new Toyota, which was stolen within the month. Prostomolotova did not have the money for theft insurance, and so another grief was added to all the others for the family a 200thousand-ruble debt, which is still outstanding. Butshe is not going to sue the government for compensation.

What's the point? the woman laughs. A couple people sued them. Theygot themselves 120ruble pensions. Everyone's just waiting for us to die. Right next to my Sasha is the grave of a boy, 23years old. Healso died at 'Nord-Ost'. Nowhis mother is buried there. Theycould all care less that life for us has stopped.

But at least they provide you with free psychological assistance?

Give me a break! Everything's out of pocket! Allthe lawsuits for pain and suffering got tossed out. What's there to discuss, when the investigator in charge of our case looks us in the eye and says: 'your children all died because they were drug addicts'. Noone ever let us make copies at the prosecutor's office. Wehad to write out the autopsies by hand. MySasha had five autopsies. Whenwe got her at the morgue we had to sign a paper, stating there was no right to a repeat exhumation. Butwhat's to exhume? Theytook all the organs. Inthe first autopsy they wrote one thing, and in the second something else, while in the fifth one, the last one, that she died from acute gastritis.

Nonetheless, many of the 'Nord-Ost' victims took to court the government that could not protect their loved ones. Thelawsuits went on for several years. During this time several of the claimants died. Those, who made it to the end, received pensions from 120to 8000rubles per month. There is no law in Russia governing the protection of terror victims.

They care so little what we think, that they didn't even ask our opinion when they put a monument to our children near the Theatrical Center, said Elena Anatolevna. It was a plaque with the names of our children that was hung on the corner, inept and ugly. Butno one wants a monument in the center of the square. After all, that's where the parking lot is, in the center. Suchblasphemy.

From 'Novye Izvestiya'

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Comments (3)
1. Written by Nefrit, on 22-06-200902:33
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Written by , on 22-06-200917:45
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3. Written by , on 20-07-201019:46
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