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People have learned to live with the pain
Written by   
, 30 2013

Nine years ago terrorists seized a school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan. Thehostages were held for three days. Nineyears later, Susanna Dudiyeva, leader of the 'Mothers of Beslan' public organization, spoke with 'Vlasti' correspondent Zaur Farniyev on how the former hostages and their relatives have been living these years, and why they continue to believe that the truth is being hidden from them.

Image'Vlasti': The investigation into the Beslan terrorist attack continues. Whathas changed? Doyou have any hope that it will end soon?

Susanna Dudiyeva: They have even stopped notifying us, the victims, of extensions to the investigation. Personally, for the last year Ihave not received a single letter about the investigation being extended, which was the case during the previous eight years. During this same year, neither my friends nor Ihave received a single summons to see the prosecutor, nor have we gotten any answers to the questions we asked. Iam to understand that the investigation is at a standstill. There is complete silence. Ithink that the investigation team is called the investigation of the Beslan terrorist act, but it has apparently been busy with any and all the other chores and errands.

'Vlasti': Then, why do they not just close the case?

Susanna Dudiyeva: Because in the future there is a hearing in Strasbourg on the victims' complaint, and until this point it will not be closed. Inaddition, they still have not investigated two unidentified terrorists. (We have received) no response from the investigators to our request to re-examine the operational headquarters leadership, or to our questions about what went on at the school and the operational headquarters from September 1st to the 3rd. Ifthe case got closed right now, it would be unfair to us and would cause quite a stir among the victims. Right now all of us, the victims, are like one big, exposed nerve, and Icannot even imagine what people might be capable of if it turns out that the investigation into the terrorist attack gets shutdown.

'Vlasti': And what is the fate of the complaint the victims in Beslan made to the European Court of Human Rights?

Susanna Dudiyeva: The process of communication with the parties in the suit is finished. Allthe questions have asked of the victims and the defendant. Nowwe are waiting for them to assign the start date for the suit. Ithink that by the end of this year the suit will already get started. Recently we sent a petition that they conduct the proceedings in Russian, and tried to convince the court that our participation in the process would be fruitful. Wehave not yet received areply.

'Vlasti': What do you expect from the investigation in Russia?

Susanna Dudiyeva: Some kind of information should show up that dots the i. There remain a lot of witnesses who participated, either assisting in the hostage rescue, or, on the contrary, not participating, so this information cannot stay hidden forever. Justlike information got out about wires to the improvised explosive devices in the gym not being connected. Thiscame out during questioning of the Gaglovyev and Nabiyev, the leaders of the explosive ordnance disposal team, who were among the first who entered. Iwill not say how we got this recording, but the two sappers maintain that the explosion did not come from inside the gym. Iam sure that information such as this will certainly comeout.

'Vlasti': For a long time, high-ranking officials from Moscow have not shown up at anniversaries of the Beslan tragedy. Doyou expect anyone to visit?

Susanna Dudiyeva: For me personally it is not important, but there are people for whom it this. Sofar they have not named any of the law enforcement heads, those who were supposed to ensure public safety, yet, by their errors, allowed the terrorist attack to happen. There should be some investigation into these errors. Theyneed to tell everything to the public.

'Vlasti': Now you hold the position of director of 'My Family', a center for the prevention of child abandonment and the development family care for orphans and other children left without parental care. Yourally, Marina Pak, works at the Center for Rehabilitation of Children at a convent in Alaguir. There they care for children who suffered at Beslan. Other than taking control of the investigation into the terrorist attack, have you have found any new use for your authority?

Susanna Dudiyeva: At the center, which was built after the terrorist attack, there are children of different faiths and nationalities. Ithink that our mothers that work there find it gratifying to see the spiritual growth of Muslim and Orthodox children, simply our Ossetian children. Forthem, perhaps, it is kind of a relief. AndI am working with orphans and their possible foster parents. Ialready said that we are all one single nerve. Relief comes only when we are able to help others. Ourcommittee is at work, now we have a lot of issues there is the problem of university admission for former hostages, problems of with rehab in sanatoria, employment. Bythe way, the biggest problem is with employment.

'Vlasti': Why?

Susanna Dudiyeva: Our kids mainly attended schools that train law enforcement officers, but now it is very difficult to get a job because there is a decree according to which law enforcement agencies will not accept former hostages. Soit is difficult.

'Vlasti': And what has happened with the women who became handicapped to wheelchairs after the terrorist attack and the assault? AsI recall, in 2011Dmitriy Medvedev promised them help.

Susanna Dudiyeva: Yes, back then at a meeting with us, Dmitriy Medvedev, who was serving as president of the country, promised to help six women who needed treatment abroad. Three of them are mothers who risked their lives saving children. Thisyear, with help from the leadership of the (Ossetian) republic, we were able to send Zalina Khuzmiyeva, who lost her hearing, for treatment (abroad). Nowshe can hear. Twoof her children were killed in the terrorist attack, and the fact that she was deaf and can now hear is for us a great joy. Atthe meeting with Dmitriy Medvedev, we insisted that he send four women the most severe cases to Germany and leave them there until there was a positive change in their condition. Dmitry Medvedev said that this is not a problem for the government, but apparently it was a problem still. ButGermany is not the issue! Whynot send them to the Burdenko Institute of Neurosurgery, where our highly respected Professor Konovalov is working wonders with these patients?

'Vlasti': So, after your meeting with Medvedev these women got no help at all?

Susanna Dudiyeva: There was a clinical examination by our local physicians. Iwould like to remind you that these young women, the oldest of whom is 40, need a high-tech tests and treatment. Icannot understand how one can give up on them. Primary care physicians do not come see them, and it can be a whole year without even a call. Social workers do not work with them. Everyone is already used to the idea that these women bear their owncross.

'Vlasti': Iremember there were problems with psychological rehabilitation of former hostages. Isany such rehabilitation getting done?

Susanna Dudiyeva: No. Ifsomeone is working on this, it is only on a voluntary basis. Volunteers come and work with the children. Basically, these are people from overseas who are raise money all year so that they can work here. There is no special program for psychological rehabilitation, and because of that there are many problems. Thebehavior of many of these former hostages is often simply inadequate. Thehell through which they passed could not but leave an impression on their minds. Afterwards, their parents raised them suggesting that everyone owed them something, so there is a lot of work for the psychologists, but no one is engaged inthis.

'Vlasti': In working with orphans, you have probably heard about 'Dima Yakovlev's Law' (forbidding overseas adoptions). Howdo you feel about this?

Susanna Dudiyeva: If it is the law, then Iam obliged to carry it out, but as a woman and as a mother Idisagree with them solving political issues this way. Theyjust needed to tighten up on adoptions of children abroad and to agree on how to keep track of each child. Itis wrong when someone restricts children from the hope of a cure or a new and better life. InRussia it is always like this: in order for something to change, someone has to die. Thedeath of Dima Yakovlev impacts the fate of other children, depriving them of the opportunity to use a chance for recovery. Imean that children with congenital or acquired abnormalities could have replacement parents (foreigners) and get high-tech medical care. InRussia there are such people, but if you such an opportunity abroad, in America, it is simply not fair to the children to deny them assistance from foreigners, to deprive them of a chance to enjoy a fulllife.

'Vlasti': Nine years after the terrorist attack in Beslan, have people come to terms with what happened?

Susanna Dudiyeva: People have learned to live with the pain. Theyhave learned to hide it deep in their hearts. Wedo not even need to talk about it we see people's state of mind in their eyes. Webegin to speak of our grief only when we meet with weeping injustice.

In 'Kommersant'


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