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The value oflife
Written by , , ,   
, 12 2011

ImageTomorrow is the twelfth anniversary of the blast that destroyed an apartment building on the Kashirskoe highway in Moscow, which claimed 124lives. OnSeptember 8th, there was a requiem in the capital for the 106victims of the blast on Guryanov Street who were also killed the same way in 1999. Those who suffered in these and many subsequent terrorist attacks in Russia are still in pain. Thepain is caused not only by the loss of their loved ones, but by the insults these terror victims receive instead of assistance from the state. People who lost apartments are yet to received replacements, and those who lost their health must get treatment at their own expense. Commemorative events are subdued, and almost never attract the attention of the officials. Atthe same time, however, the U.S. observed the 10th national day of remembrance for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Observations began all over the country, even a week before the anniversary of the terrible terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, which claimed the lives of nearly three thousand. There are still, however, a few hundred who believe that their government has failed to help them, but an absolute majority of the victims received decent compensation, and so the U.S. authorities are not afraid of the public paying attention to the victims of these tragedies.

At 5:00 am on September 13th, near a memorial chapel that stands on the site of building number 63on the Kashirskoe highway, a requiem will be held. Twelve years ago, this house was completely destroyed by a blast. 124people were killed and nine injured. Achapel that stands on the site of building number 19on Guryanov Street held a funeral observance on the night of 89September. Twelve years ago a blast destroyed two stairwells of that building, killing 106and injuring over 200. Buildings number 17and 19were also extensively damaged in the blast wave, and were later torn down. Nowin their place are four new high-rises. In2004, Adam Dekkushev and Yusuf Krymshamkhalov were sentenced to life imprisonment for carrying out these attacks, as well as a bombing in Volgodonsk.

It is late in the evening of September 8th, 2011. Ithad rained, and in the chapel funereal has been music playing. People started arriving well after dark, at 11pm. Alltold about 200gathered here. There were many residents from nearby apartments. Theyalso felt the monstrous explosion almost every building within a radius of 500meters had its windows blown out. These people sympathize and come here every year bearing flowers. Pechatniki district council officials also attended the memorial event, as did officials from several other districts.

Those who 12years ago shared the same building, and now share a common pain, found each other in the crowd, hugged, kissed, cried, and were glad to see each other once again. “I don’t think there are fewer people than before,” says Svetlana Mantsulich, who used to live at number 19. “Many are elderly and find it difficult to attend, but now a lot of young people come, those who were children back then.”

At 11:58 pm, the moment when the explosion took place, wreaths and flowers are laid at a nearby stele. There, and in the adjacent ‘Joy of All the Afflicted’ chapel, which was built after the attack, they held a requiem for the dead. Thevictims admitted to Novye Izvestiya journalists that the dirge and the two-minute spot on the news about the terrorist attack is pretty much all the attention they ever get from the public and the government. Atall other times they are forgotten.

Meanwhile, yesterday was the national day of remembrance of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. OnSeptember 11th, 2001, terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners. Twoof the aircraft were sent against the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Thetowers, into which the airliners crashed, burned and collapsed. Oneaircraft was assigned to the Pentagon, located near Washington, DC. Thefourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania while the pilots and passengers tried to retake control from the terrorists. Thetotal number of victims from these terrorist attacks was 2,977. Morethan a thousand of the dead in New York City were never identified. Twenty-four people remain on the list of missing persons.

In many U.S. cities the memorial events took place on the eve of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. InNew York City, concerts were held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Washington Park, and many other venues. InChicago there were also concerts dedicated to memory of the victims, held on September 3rd in many city parks. Theslogan of every one of the many activities taking place in the city halls, churches, synagogues, mosques, and community centers was: “America will never forget you.” These words are also the beginning of a song dedicated to victims of terrorist attacks. Onthat day of remembrance, thousands of bouquets appear near the entrances of many city buildings, bus stops, gas stations, and store entrances.

Bodies in the landfill

Anna Pakhomova has come to the memorial stele at Guryanov on the night of September 89, just as she has done every night for the last 12years. Shecannot hold back her tears. “Nowadays Icry a lot even when I’m smiling,” she told Novye Izvestiya later during the day. “My nerves are shot. Mywork and my family are what keep me going. I’ve got a great job I’m a primary school teacher.” Anna’s parents were killed during the terrorist attack. Shewas able to bury her mother, but her father was never found. Theassistance the government provided Anna always seemed to be a mockery. Forboth her parents and everything that used to be in the apartment, for all the missing family photos and heirlooms, Anna received 70thousand rubles, a thousand dollars, and some groceries. Whenall the money had been spent on lawyers and she urgently needed money to pay for her son’s education, Anna asked the head of the social assistance agency for a one-time grant of financial assistance, but such expenditures had not been allocated by the state. After Anna was released from a neurology clinic, her husband asked the city for a trip to a sanatorium. Hereceived the reply that Anna was not directly affected (by the terrorist attack), and so she was not eligible.

Anna received no compensation for her parents’ apartment, which had been destroyed by the terrorists. “We had to sue to finance ministry for five years,” she said. “We wrote our petition exactly as specified in the Constitution. Theytold us that it’s all destroyed, where were they supposed to get my inheritance? Wespent all the money on lawyers and five years later got a tiny, two-room apartment. Myson was living with my parents. Hesurvived because he was not at home during the terrorist attack, but all his things were there. Theauthorities decided that we didn’t deserve a thing.” Anna knows many who received no compensation for destroyed apartments. They, like Anna, were not registered to live at Guryanov number 19, but they at least should have inherited the value of their deceased loved ones' apartments.

On the death certificate of Yuri Runov, Anna’s father, it states that he went missing in April of 2000. “No one said how to get death certificates for loved ones whose bodies couldn’t be found,” says Anna. “My relatives suggested that we go to court. Iwent and wrote a petition. Buthow do you do such a thing? Theywouldn’t even give me a clue.” When the court gave Anna the certificate, they explained that the date of death would be the day of the court hearing, because her petition was filled out incorrectly. After this, Anna ended up in the neurology clinic.

Along with Yuri Runov, 11of his neighbors were never identified. Their families understood that in some cases finding a body under the rubble of a collapsed building is impossible, but they do not understand why the debris was removed with excavators and taken to a landfill. Tatiana Karpova, a member of the ‘Nord-Ost’ public organization’s coordinating council, told Novye Izvestiya that 96body fragments from the terrorist attack on Guryanov Street are still in storage at the Lianozovo morgue, as the state has no funding to perform DNA testing. According to Dr. Pavel Ivanov, deputy director of the Center for Research into high-tech forensics, the remains arrived at the Lianozovo morgue a few months after the attack. “They were brought in from the landfill, where they ended up along with the debris of the building,” he told Novye Izvestiya. “But all the remains that were received over the course of the year were examined.”

Anna’s story is not exceptional. Every victim of the 1999terrorist attacks, and many subsequent attacks, can tell you about how they received nothing but humiliation from the state. In1999, compensation for a deceased victim was five thousand rubles (about$200). Those who survived, but lost apartments, received new ones, but had to sleep on the floor. According to Igor Trunov, lawyer for many victims injured in terrorist attacks, “people lost everything they had and they were given an apartment with empty walls and that scandalous five thousand rubles worth of financial assistance. Evenretirees. Howis a retire to buy everything else?”

According to Trunov, no more than 10victims of the terrorist attacks on Guryanov Street and the Kashirskoe highway ever turned to the courts seeking reparations, and not a single petition asking compensation for pain and suffering has ever been granted. Material damage is compensated in accordance with the law on combating terrorism, which is written so that victims are not reimbursed for loses by the government, but by the terrorists. Ina 2006article in Novye Izvestiya, Tamara Gorbyleva, who lost her daughter-in-law and grandson during the terrorist attack on Guryanov Street, won a lawsuit against Adam Dekkushev and Yusuf Krymshamkhalov. Thecourt ruled that they must pay her 1.8 million rubles. Since these terrorists are in prison and their salary is low, it will take about 500years for Tamara Gorbyleva to obtain thismoney.

According to Dmitry Milovodov, another member of the coordinating council of the ‘Nord-Ost’ public organization, those who lost their health in the terrorist attack have to seek treatment at their own expense. Yetthere is the appearance of assistance: “One time the 13th municipal hospital had a special rehabilitation center for victims of terrorist attacks,” Dmitry told Novye Izvestiya. “There was one room, in which one doctor kept an appointment sheet. Youcouldn’t get orders to get a blood test or an ultrasound or CAT scan. Theyclosed him down after everyone stopped coming to him.”

Street named for a rescuer

In 2001, in the United States a law was passed governing compensation for victims of September 11th. According to Igor Trunov, it is “a mathematical law” in which the price of health and life is calculated in the finest detail. Itis also a law that corresponds to the rules of a market economy. According to Trunov, the life of a janitor is worth several times less than the life of a businessman, even if they both worked in the World Trade Center. Thisapproach, according to Igor Trunov, caused a lot of discontent among the American public. Asreported by CBS News, the average payment for the death of a relative was set at about two million dollars, while the highest was equal to$7.1 million. Thelowest payment for injuries was$500, while the largest was$8.6 million. “Payments for loss of health were higher than for the death,” Igor Trunov told Novye Izvestiya. “But take into account that for these people money is going to be needed for rehabilitation, doctors, nurses, prostheses, crutches.”

Compensation was made from a specially created fund for the victims of September 11th. According to U.S. media, it was created not only to help the victims, but to also protect U.S. companies against claims. Nevertheless, victims have filed about 100lawsuits against firms. Several hundred firefighters and rescue workers have filed claims because they are unhappy with the amount of compensation they received. Theauthorities, however, have reached agreements with most of them prior to going tocourt.

Most applications filed with the fund are compensation for injuries, and were filed by firefighters, rescuers, and workers who dealt with debris. Onthe eve of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, many U.S. media outlets reported that these people continue to die from the toxic air they breathed 10years ago. 35thousand firefighters and workers who toiled on the ruins of the World Trade Center were screened by an affiliate of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, which was created to assist victims of September 11th. Their results show that 19% of them have begun to develop lung cancer. Eventhough$4.3 billion in compensation was allocated over the last five years for treating victims of September 11th, cancer is not on the list of diseases prescribed in the Act. Thisomission is to be decided by the American government. Meanwhile, the U.S. media on the eve of the anniversary of the terrorist attack are giving tribute to the victims and telling stories about the heroes. Forexample, John Mead, who searched for survivors in the ruins of the collapsed towers. In2008, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Since his death at the age of 67, the street in New York City where he lived now bears hisname.

According to Igor Trunov, there are very few people who believe that the U.S. government granted unfairly low compensation, and therefore the U.S. authorities are not afraid of the public paying attention to the victims of the terrorist attack.


In ‘Novye Izvestiya’



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