The Truth About Beslan Tragedy. Research Paper II PART

The phenomenon of russian leadership and media, of its trustworthy doesn’t represent news for me. Not a long time ago I prepared research paper about Beslan Tragedy and how russian media was covering this event. I think now it’s the best time to publish it and show the crime commited by Russian government and media during Beslan days. 

    1. International media about Beslan events

 “Russians lose faith in media after Beslan” – under this headline British Guardian published article on 8th of September 2004. “It took an hour for two of the country’s main three television stations to go live to Beslan, and even then one of them returned to its schedule to show a drama after just 10 minutes. Presenters stuck to the Kremlin-approved line about what was happening, insisting that the Russian troops had no plan for storming the school. The stations are all controlled by the state in one way or another and have been accused of providing a mouthpiece for government evasions and lies. They have reportedly toned down their approach since the Dubrovka theatre siege in Moscow, when President Vladimir Putin criticized them for abusing media freedom and accused them of jeopardizing the safety of hostages with their coverage. While TV stations appeared to have erred on the side of censorship, several Russian newspapers have been vigorous in their attacks on the government and the TV channels’ coverage. "My God, how our valiant state television stations took fright and lost their heads," wrote columnist Irina Petrovskaya in the daily paper Izvestiya on Saturday”.

Nana Lezhava and Levan Tetvadze, journalists of the Georgian TV channel Rustavi 2, were released on 8 September after being held for five days. The North Ossetia security services finally accepted that the two journalists’ passports giving their place of residence as Kazbegi meant they were legally allowed to travel to North Ossetia without visas. The Georgian Minister of Health said that the correspondent Nana Lezhava, who had been kept for fives days in the Russian pre-trial detention centers, had been poisoned with dangerous psychotropic drugs (like Politkovskaya, Lezhava passed out after being given a cup of tea).

Elsewhere, Zurab Dvali, of Georgian TV channel Mze, and his cameraman were expelled from Beslan to Moscow on the morning of 8 September. Regionalsecurity forces who arrived at their hotel the evening before demanding they return to Moscow said they "could not guarantee the safety of Georgian journalists". Their passports were confiscated but the following the day they were taken to the airport and were able to recover their passports on board their Moscow-bound flight.

On 7 September, Amro Abdel Hamid, the Moscow bureau chief for Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya, was detained at the airport in the city of Mineralniye Vody. He was returning to Moscow from Beslan, where he was reporting on the hostage crisis. He is an Egyptian who holds a Russian passport. His employers have not been told why Hamid is being detained.

For two reporters from the Washington Post, Beslan event represented “the worst terrorist attack in the world since September 11.” “That bloody carnage at a grade school in Beslan, Russia, last week made one thing clear: Now we are all living in 9/11 World,” – this is how deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page Daniel Henninger starts his column on 10th of September 2004. “This is 9/11 World, where tears flow constantly for the bleeding and burial of innocents. Three Septembers ago in America, children buried their fathers and mothers. This September in Russia, fathers and mothers bury their children. Even this universal ceremony of grief is desecrated by the designers of 9/11 World, for they leave little or nothing to bury.” In edition to this column editor published two pictures of two “September tragedies”: New York September 2001 and Beslan September 2004. 

On 7 October 2006 Anna Politkovskaya, Russian journalist and political activist well known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and Russian authorities, was shot dead in Moscow in an apparent contract killing. In September 2007, police and security forces in North Osetia neighboring republic of Ingushetia were issued orders to stop informing the media of any "incidents of a terrorist nature."20

Shortly, Russia become a place where journalists face arrest, attacks, raids and even murder. But it was during the coverage of the hostage terror in Beslan in September that its real failings were brought to light. In media freedom ratings 2004 Freedom House considered Russia as being ‘not free’ for the second time in a row. Even more Reporters Without Borders’ new press freedom index released in October 2004 Russia ranked 140th out of 167 countries. Russia has, in recent years, become dangerous ground for journalists, who face the threat of arrests, attacks, raids, and even murder on a daily basis.

There are warning signs that in dealing with journalists covering terrorist attacks, some Russian politicians continue to be guided by what is expedient from their point of view, rather than by what is legal. After the hostages were released, some Russian politicians commented on the work of the press. Nezavisimaya Gazeta interviewed some of these politicians. Lyubov Sliska, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, said “We should make sure that the media do not facilitate terrorist activity and all means are good for this. America has shown a decent example after 11 September. And the whole world said nothing. All the press limited its freedoms itself realizing that some of its actions help terrorists. This is why we should not be afraid of the suppression of freedom of speech, the suppression of democracy. We can take any temporary measures to prevent anarchic terrorism.”

The gravest consequence of the Government’s information policies were summed up by political analyst Dmitriy Oreshkin in his interview for Ekho Moskvy radio station: “In what we receive from the official media one can feel, to choose my words carefully, that some facts are not reported. And if we use real terms, one can feel that there is an attempt to lead the discussion in the wrong way. As a result they will not lead in the wrong way but will loose the people’s trust. One can hardly believe now in what is said on television. Excuse my using special terms, but the mechanism of communication between the power and the people is broken.”

There is also how several leading Russian and international human rights organizations – Amnesty International (AI), International League of Human rights (ILHR), International Helsinki Federation (IHF), International Federation of Leagues of Human Rights, Moscow Helsinki Group, All-Russian Movement for Human Rights, and Human Rights’ Defence Centre Memorial, Human Rights Watch – commented. On 8 September they issued a joint statement in which they pointed out the responsibility that Russian authorities bore in disseminating false information. “We are also seriously concerned with the fact that authorities concealed the true scale of the crisis by, inter alia, misinforming Russian society about the number of hostages. We call on Russian authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of the Beslan events which should include an examination of how authorities informed the whole society and the families of the hostages. We call on making the results of such an investigation public,” – the statement reads.

At about 5:00 a.m. on September 4th, Putin arrived in Beslan. No-one met him at the airport except for his personal guard. From the airport the president immediately went to the district clinical hospital where he visited all of the rooms containing victims… After thirty minutes he left the Hospital. Later in the day, Putin addressed the nation on state television: “To speak is difficult and bitter,” he began. “A terrible tragedy has taken place on our land…. We live in the conditions formed after the collapse of an enormous, great state (the USSR)… We exhibited weakness, and the weak are beaten.” Putin concluded by announcing that, “in the very near future a complex of measures will be prepared toward strengthening the unity of the country.”

When a nation goes through a tragedy, different responses ensue. The government takes steps to minimize the impact of the event and prevent a similar tragedy in the future, people try to make sense of what happened by transforming their experiences into stories, and the media serves as a looking glass for all these processes. Therefore, analysis of Russian media coverage of the Beslan school tragedy provides “a glimpse into the ideology dominant in the country and the methods by which this ideology is reinforced and reproduced.” 21  


  1. ‘Beslan: Russia’s 9/11?’ John B. Dunlop, October 2005
  1. Media Coverage: 
    Help Or Hinderance In Conflict Prevention, By Nik Gowing, Carnegie Corporation, New York, 1997
  1. OSCE report about Beslan media coverage, September 2004
  2. Organization REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS reports
  3. Russians lose faith in media after Beslan, Chris Tryhorn, September 8, 2004,
  4. 9/11 World: This Is the Way We Live Now. The war on terror will be won only if America leads it. by DANIEL HENNINGER, September 10, 2004.
  5. Russian editor ‘sacked by Putin’ over siege coverage. By Philippe Naughton, Times Online. September 6, 2004
  6. Richard Pipes, “Give the Chechens”
  7. See Anatol Lieven. Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.
  8. “World Socialist Web Site”, Vladimir Volkov, 8 September 2004,
  9. Silencing Chechnya Timur Aliev The Moscow Times January 27, 2005.
  10. Russia: Moscow Says It Will Punish U.S. TV Network Over Basaev Interview RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty August 3, 2005
  11. After Beslan, the Media in Shackles September 4, 2006
  12. "‘No mistakes’, Beslan report says", BBC News, December 26, 2005.
  13. Savelyev’s report. (August 28, 2005).
  14., articles
  15. Russia’s "Extremism" Law Should Be Withdrawn: WAN World Association of Newspapers July 13, 2006
  16. Russian-Chechen Friendship Society Closed RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty October 14, 2006
  17. BBC News, CNN, NTV; ROSSIA; RUSTAVI 2, MZE news casts.
  18. The Darkness Spreading Over Russia Carl Gershman The Washington Post October 21, 2006
  19. INGUSHETIA BANS REPORTING ON ‘TERRORIST ACTS.’ Radio Free Europe October 3, 2007
  20. research on THE RHETORIC OF THE RUSSIAN MEDIA, California State University
  21. Smokescreen Around Chechnya Francesca Mereu and Simon Saradzhyan The Moscow Times March 18, 2005
  22. Russian TV accuses military of censorship Yuriy Lipatov BBC News January 23, 2000
  24. Silencing Chechnya Timur Aliev The Moscow Times January 27, 2005.
  25. Chechnya: 10 years of conflict BBC News December 2, 2004
  26. Inquiry urged into ‘poisoning’ of Russian journalist Claire Cozens The Guardian September 7, 2004
  27. Silencing Chechnya Timur Aliev The Moscow Times January 27, 2005.
  28. Russia: Moscow Says It Will Punish U.S. TV Network Over Basaev Interview RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty August 3, 2005
  29. Russia’s "Extremism" Law Should Be Withdrawn: WAN World Association of Newspapers July 13, 2006
  30. Russian-Chechen Friendship Society Closed RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty October 14, 2006
  31. The Darkness Spreading Over Russia Carl Gershman The Washington Post October 21, 2006
  32. Editor Jailed for His Coverage of Chechnya Maria Levitov The Moscow Times November 21, 2006
  33. Beslan mothers’ futile quest for relief, BBC News, 4 June 2005
  34. Beslan School Massacre One Year Later, U.S. Department of State, August 31, 2005
  35. Putin’s legacy is a massacre, say the mothers of Beslan The Independent, 26 February 2008
  36. "Putin meets angry Beslan mothers", BBC News, September 2, 2005. Chechnya Vow Cast a Long Shadow The Moscow Times, February 26, 2008
  37. No Terrorist Acts in Russia Since Beslan: Whom to Thank? The Jamestown Foundation, May 24, 2007
  38. Vladimir Khodov: Where were the Arabs from? Where were the blacks from? And this number – 354 hostages…. Novaya Gazeta (October 18, 2004).
  39. "Timeline: Russian school siege", BBC News, September 3, 2004.
  40. "120 funerals in one day for Russian town", CBS News, September 6, 2004.
  41. Joint NGO statement on the Beslan Hostage Tragedy. Amnesty International (September 8, 2004).  

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