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Text of the declaration of Voice of Beslan
Written by   
, 04 2008

Text of the declaration of ‘Voice of Beslan’ to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

To: Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

From: The victims of the Beslan terrorist attack

D e c l a r a t i o n:

On initiating criminal proceedings against former President of the Russian FederationV.Putin.

In response to statements made by former President of the Russian Federation, Citizen Vladimir Putin during an interview, where he stated the inadmissibility of negotiating with terrorists in Beslan, and further stated that the actions of security forces in School No. 1on September 3rd, 2004, were proper.

In August of 2004, in accordance with a previously developed plan, an armed gang formed inside the Russian Federation in order to seize School No. 1in Beslan.

On the morning of September 1st, 2004, this gang of as yet unidentified numerical composition, using the inaction, absence, and possibly the aid of law enforcement a scenario that the prosecution did not investigate, seized 1,116 hostages.

From September 1st through the 3rd, 2004, during the course of a special hostage rescue operation conducted by FSB commandos, 331persons were killed (not including two who later died from their wounds), and an additional 783persons, including 55law enforcement personnel, received various injuries.

In connection with the attack, the prosecutor's office of the Southern Federal District initiated criminal proceedings, and three trials were held. Forthe seizure of 1,116 persons and the murder of hundreds of hostages, however, not a single government official incurred any real criminal liability.

On June 1st, 2008, in an interview with French journalists, Putin said that negotiations with terrorists was not permissible, and he cited the Beslan terrorist attack, during which, according to him, the security officials had acted properly by refusing to negotiate.

We, the victims, are forced to ask that the statement by the former President of the Russian Federation be investigated, and for the initiation of a criminal case of criminal conduct (or inaction) on the part of the former President of the Russian Federation, the former Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the former head of the Security Council, and the former head of the Federal Security Service, V.Putin.

Our arguments are justified by the following:

For over three years, those who suffered in the terrorist attack have asked for an investigation into the tragedy and that all responsible be brought to justice, since a tragedy of this scale could not have been possible had officials not had blatant disregarded their professional duties.

One of these officials is V.Putin, the former President of the Russian Federation.
V.Putin's leadership of the country ended in tragedy for hostages and their families in the small town of Beslan, Ossetia.

The primary Guarantor of human rights, including the right to life, as well as the freedoms of the citizen is the Constitution of the Russian Federation. TheGuarantor of the Constitution is the President of the Russian Federation.

Article 2of the Constitution of the Russian Federation reads: a person, his rights, and his freedoms are that, which is the most valuable, thus the recognition, observance, and protection of human rights, and the freedoms of the citizen, is the duty of the state.

Article 20of the Constitution guarantees the right to life.

According to Part 1of Article 15of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, laws and regulations should not contradict the Constitution, particularly Article 20of Constitution: all have the right to life.

In the Beslan tragedy several articles of the Russian Constitution were violated.

V.Putin, as President of the Russian Federation and Supreme Commander, violated the rights of the hostages in the following:

1. Byfailing to conduct negotiations during the course of two and a half days. Thisprovoked (incited) members of the gang to even harsher acts against the hostages, and led to the shooting of 21people.

2. Theuse of indiscriminate weaponry in an anti-terrorist operation to free the hostages at the school in Beslan.

The death of 333people in the Beslan terrorist attack is evidence of Putin's neglect of his official duties. FromSeptember 1st through the 3rd, 2004, security forces subordinate to the President of the Russian Federation committed a crime by refusing to negotiate the release of the hostages, and, instead, used the army, thereby themselves becoming the equivalent of a criminal organization.

In accordance with Parts 3and 4of Article 33of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, the formation of a criminal organization in order to commit a crime is in itself a crime, and any person who abets the commission of a crime is himself a criminal. Theactions of the President of the Russian Federation, according to Part 3of Article 33, and Article 34, of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, make him the organizer of a criminal organization. Bynot negotiating with the terrorists to secure the release of the hostages, and by allowing the use of the Army against the school building, he is an instigator and accomplice to crime as well.

During the Beslan terror attack, when the hostages were captured the terrorists put forward certain demands: the withdrawal of troops from Chechnya, the release of terrorists from Ossetian prisons, and bringing in four persons to negotiate: M.Dzasokhov, M.Zyazikov, L.Roshal, and A.Aslakhanov. Officials were required to report these demands to the president of the country.

For two and a half days the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) did not bring these persons or any other officials to attend proposed negotiations. M.Zyazikov and A.Aslakhanov were banned from Beslan under orders from a high-ranking person. AfterV.Putin’s interview, we believe that this person was the President of the Russian Federation.

It was after a report by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission of the Russian FederationA.Torshin, a year and a half after the tragedy, that the public was able to learn that the militants had demanded the simultaneous arrival at the school of A.Dzasokhov, M.Zyazikov, A.Aslakhanov, and L.Roshal, and that on the night of September 1-2nd, 2004, but this was vetoed.

There is information (in A.Torshin's report and records of the hearings) that M.A.Pankov, then deputy Interior Minister, notified A.S.Dzasokhov, then president of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, that Pankov had orders to arrest Dzasokhov if he made any attempt to travel to the school. Itis not known if there really was such an order, or if there was, who gave it.

The above amounted to an actual refusal to negotiate the release of the hostages from the terrorists.

On September 1st, 2004, an Operational Headquarters (OHQ) was organized to rescue the hostages. Eventhough negotiating had been rejected, members of the OHQ lied to relatives of hostages, many journalists, and to the world, saying that the terrorists were unwilling to make contact and had made no demands. Later, the hostages themselves testified that this made their condition even worse. Because of the refusal to negotiate, the terrorists took out their anger on the hostages, making the conditions of their detention even harsher: they stopped giving the hostages water, and shot 21men.

On September 2nd, 2004, because of an act by R.Aushev, the militants made a gesture of good will: they would meet halfway the wishes of millions of people by freeing 24hostages. Dialogue with the militants on the part of the OHQ would obviously have been the salvation of the hostages. Intheir the refusal to negotiate the demands of the terrorists, however, officials deliberately aggravated the hostages' situation, and came into conflict with the Basic Law Article 20of the Constitution of the Russian Federation all have the right to life and the paragraph in Article 71of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation there is to be regularization and protection of the human rights, and the freedoms, of its citizens.

Two precious days were wasted as a result of the incompetent and irresponsible actions of the OHQ staff, the generals, and the presidents. Hostages later testified that the terrorists then herded them into the dining room, where they were forced to wave white clothes from the windows of the dining room, and shout: Don't shoot. Yet, despite this, random firing at the school building continued. Evenat this tragic moment negotiations could have begun to stop the slaughter, but the white clothes in the hands of women and their cries were not enough to make the OHQ conclude that the terrorists wanted to negotiate. Thisfact, and the interview on the part of the President of the Russian Federation, clearly demonstrates that the President of the Russian Federation and the OHQ are to blame for the absence of negotiations with the terrorists to release the hostages.
Discussions on the part of Zangionov and Roshal with the terrorists cannot be termed negotiations. According to the testimony of so-called professional negotiators Zangionov and Roshal, it is clear that the negotiators themselves were unaware of the demands, even though notes listing the terrorist demands were issued on September 1st and 2nd. Though terrorists had offered to let (Zangionov and Roshal bring) in medication and food for the hostages, they obviously had not taken hostages in order to treat and feed them.

When the terrorists seized the hostages, there were two means to release them: either through negotiation, or by force.

In Beslan they did not negotiate. TheOHQ brought tanks, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers to the school. These were to be the means they had chosen to rescue the hostages.

As the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, V.Putin allowed the use of indiscriminate weaponry in School No. 1.

V.A.Sobolev, commander of the 58th Army, transferred heavy weapons (tanks and other armored vehicles) to A.I.Tikhonov, chief of the FSB in North Ossetia and deputy commander of the OHQ. GeneralV.A.Sobolev explained his action at the trial: In peacetime the Army has no right to use heavy weaponry. According to the Federal Law 'On Combating Terrorism', in peacetime the Army can only be used to protect military installations. Following these illegal acts, the generals and the president of the country have failed to come to the appropriate conclusion, and, moreover, the former President of the Russian Federation now gives interviews saying that the solution to the Beslan tragedy is an example to be followed.

In his role as the President of the Russian Federation, V.Putin not only did not come to Beslan to rescue the hostages, he did not even send a single federal official to negotiate. Thus, by his refusal to negotiate, the hostages were abandoned to their fate. Theactions of the OHQ violated the hostages' right to life, and condemned them to torture and cruel treatment. Amajority of the deaths were as a result of the above facts, and the actions of the OHQ and the President of the Russian Federation.

As victims, we cannot but worry about the answer to the following question: what exactly was done, on the part of the OHQ and the President of the Russian Federation, to save the hostages, if they would not take any specific steps to alleviate the situation and win the release of the hostages? TheOHQ made believe that there was intense activity taking place to release the hostages, and spread false information, including assurances to Beslan residents that everything possible was being done. ThePresident did not speak (about the situation) until after the hostages had been killed, on the night of September 4th. Hespoke about how the terror attack in Beslan had been a threat to the integrity of the country. Thisstatement, however, is contrary to Article 5of the Federal Law 'On Combating Terrorism', that states that the fight against terrorists is primarily to protect individuals, then later society and the state.

Members of the OHQ testified that they had not been looking to secure the release of hostages though force by using the FSB and troops from the North Ossetian and Russian Federation Interior Ministries. Atnoon on September 3rd, some troops were even sent away for routine training, and this was considered to be strong evidence that an assault was not planned. We, however, consider this to have been a military maneuver a diversionary tactic to lull the terrorists before the deliberate shelling of the school that started at 1:03pm.

On September 3rd, 2004, the OHQ, with the knowledge of Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, carried out a military operation. (Proof of the direct subordination of the Army of the Russian Federation to the President of the Russian Federation is to be found in Article 87of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and in Article 10of the Federal Law 'On defense', which V.Putin gave as examples during his interview.) The assault began with two salvos fired from RPO-A and RShG-1 rocket launchers at the roof on the east side of the gymnasium, and through the first window on the west side of the school building. These were to provoke the assault. Noprovision was made to extinguish the resulting fire that led to the deaths of hostages.

The use of these weapons against a school building full of civilians is in itself a war crime.

From that point on, the hostage rescue headquarters became the ‘headquarters to monitor the deaths of hostages and commandos’. Tanks, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and other weapons began to indiscriminately fire upon the school building.

Numerous testimonies speak about the repeated use of tanks and grenade launchers, and we have interrogation reports and trial transcripts that state so. Ofthe 333slain hostages, the cause of death of 116, in the absence of any other signs of trauma, was because of charring and incineration of the bodies. Thismeans that 116hostages were burned alive, due to the use of flamethrowers in the gym.
The Geneva Convention of August 12th, 1949, 'On the protection of victims of war', and its additional four protocols in 1980, which Russia ratified, prohibit the use of weapons that are indiscriminate around civilians, that is, weapons that leave no chance of survival for either combatants or non-combatants during clashes or military conflicts.

Among the facilities that the Geneva Convention lists to be civilian are schools. Theinvestigation determined that the following weapons were used against the school: RPO-A and RShG-1, RShG-2, RPG-26, PG-7VL, and armored vehicles. Service members fired 7tank and 19grenade rounds, and expended 7,210 bullets. Witnesses and hostages spoke of the shelling against the outside of the school building, and their testimony is there in the records of the court proceedings.

By blessing the use of rocket-propelled grenades, flamethrowers, and tanks during this combat operation, President of the Russian FederationV.Putin overstepped his authority and entered into armed conflict with Russian Law and international treaties in force due to their ratification. President of the Russian FederationV.Putin, through his actions (or inactions) disregarded the lives of 1,116 hostages and the lives of members of the special services, and violated Article 20of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: all have the right to life. The actions and omissions of V.Putin, as an official, not only did not guarantee the safety of our families, but endorsed the illegal actions of the OHQ: the refusal to negotiate with the terrorists, and their use of the Army.

On the same level as the terrorists, the President of the Russian Federation disregarded the lives of children and adults, and bears joint responsibility for their deaths.

According to Article 13of the Federal Law 'On Defense', the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is the President of the Russian Federation. Heis the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

There is no need to search for any written order signed by President of the Russian Federation, with respect of the use of force to rescue the hostages in Beslan using the Army of the Russian Federation. Thelaw clearly points to the involvement of the President of the Russian Federation, as he himself confirmed during an interview.

According to Part 2of Article 10of the Federal Law 'On Defense', the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are intended to repel aggression against Russia and for the armed defense of the integrity and inviolability of the territory of the Russian Federation.

Part 3of Article 10of the Federal Law 'On Defense', the engagement of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and tasks using weapons for other purposes, is only on orders of the President of the Russian Federation, and in accordance with Federal Law.

According to the Article 10of the Federal Law 'On Security', the manager of the government security organs is the President of the Russian Federation.

According to Article 1of the Federal Law 'On the Federal Security Service', the manager of the Federal Security Service is the President of the Russian Federation.

In the actions of the President of the Russian Federation, by making a positive assessment of the actions of the security forces before the completion of a preliminary investigation, by using his official position to interfere with investigators and obstruct a full, complete, and impartial investigation into all of the circumstances of the tragedy, we see a violation of Part 3of Article 294of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation.

The Basic Right is the right to life, and it should not conflict with federal laws and the orders of officials.

Articles of the Federal Laws point to the personal involvement of President of the Russian Federation in the use of tanks, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers in Beslan, and his responsibility for the hostage rescue operation.

During the hostage rescue operation, 331people were killed, of whom 116were burned to death in the school gymnasium in Beslan. Their charred bodies could not be identified, and this is has brought further suffering to the relatives of those who were killed.

On September 4th, the school was cleared and everything deemed unnecessary, along with the ashes of incinerated people, with the permission and under the direct control of the prosecutor's office (Prosecutor GeneralS.Fridinsky), was tossed into the town quarry.

Article 19of the Constitution of the Russian Federation stipulates: all are equal before the law. This means that all Russian citizens have equal rights and duties, regardless of their position and rank. Wealso believe that it is time to end the bad practice of the prosecutor general in not charging high-ranking officials to the utmost extent of the law. Thispractice does not prevent terror attacks, but contributes to them. Anobjective investigation cannot pick and choose.

Due to nearly three days of inciting activity (or inactivity) on the part of the President of the Russian Federation and the OHQ, the hostages were abused and tortured by the bandits. V.Putin’s inciting actions as delineated under Part 4of Article 33, and Part 3of Article 34, of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, makes him subject to criminal liability under Part 2of Article 117of the Penal Code.
V.Putin must be held jointly responsible, together with members of the OHQ, for the deaths of 333citizens under Part 2of Article 105of the Penal Code, and for his treatment of the survivors under Articles 111, 112, and 115of the Penal Code.
Based on the aforesaid, and guided by Articles 42and 159of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation,

WE ASK:

1. Foran objective investigation into the actions (or inactions) of an official, former President of the Russian FederationV.Putin, in order to clarify the circumstances of his failing to negotiate the release of hostages from terrorists on September 1st through the 3rd, 2004, and to establish the involvement of the President of the Russian Federation in the failure to negotiate the release of hostages from terrorists, and investigate the use of tanks, flamethrowers, and rocket-propelled grenades against a school in the town of Beslan on September 3rd, 2004, this investigation to include the compulsory interrogation of the former President of the Russian Federation in accordance with Article 159of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation.

2. Forthe prosecution of former President of the Russian FederationV.Putin under Article 33, and Part 3of Article 34, of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, 'crimes against an individual', and under Part 2of Article 108, Part 1of Article 111, Part 1of Article 112, Part 1of Article 114, Part 1of Article 115, Paragraph d of Part 2of Article 117, Part 3of Article 286, Part 2of Article 293, and Part 3of Article 294of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, as the Guarantor of human rights, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the head of the Security Council, the head of the Federal Security Service, and as the director of a criminal organization whose actions (or inactions) resulted in death and injury to persons:

a. Byfailing to conduct negotiations for two and a half days, provoking (inciting) members of the gangs to even more harsh acts against the hostages, and leading to the shooting of 21persons.

b. Byusing indiscriminate weapons, and the Army of the Russian Federation, during an anti-terrorist operation to free hostages at a school in Beslan. Thedeath of 333people in the Beslan terrorist attack is due to failure to conduct negotiations, and the use of the Army, and is evidence of V.Putin's neglect of his official duties.

c. Byusing his official position to interfere with investigators, and in so doing to obstruct a full, complete, and impartial investigation into all circumstances of the tragedy.

3. Toinvestigate the refusal of the following officials to participate in the required negotiations: A.Dzasokhov, A.Aslakhanov, and M.Zyazikov.

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