Sunday, September 05, 2004

Preferring Not To Know

An interesting clipping from the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza (translated by Marius at CHECHNYA-SL):

Russians prefer not to know what's going on in the Caucasus

Waclaw Radziwinowicz 03-09-2004, last update 03-09-2004 19:50

Before I began to write this text last night, I switched for hundredth of time my TV to the Russian government channels. And I didn't get disappointed again. On the RTR, theater artists were talking about their friendships, on the ORT, there was a movie about adventures of female astronaut - Valentina Tereshkova. All the world's channels already for many hour had been reporting only this Beslan's tragedy, and here the same as in the last days, when the terrorists kept hundreds of hostages in the school in North Ossetian town - dance, shows or movies about the big Soviet past.

This unending holiday was being broken only by short news, from which the Russians were getting informed that the school in Beslan was assaulted by Islamic fundamentalists, sent by al-Qaeda. They were also learning that the whole world tands together with Moscow, it sympathizes with her and supports her with her fight against international terrorism. They didn't hear anything about demands of the terrorists, about this, that this event in Beslan reminded to the world the tragedy of Chechnya.

These two TV channels are the main, if not the only one source of information for the majority of Russians. Moscow's newspapers which are still keeping some independence have a very small circulation, and beyond Moscow are practically unreachable.

What has happened with the media in Russia? After all, for these channels still work people, who in Beslan without helmets and bulletproof vests were coming under bullets and without the blink of an eye were reporting live from there. And the same people while standing at attention in the front of some officer of special services were taking his stories about that Beslan was raided by "mercenaries of world's terrorism", and were afraid to ask an obvious question: - How many hostages got killed?

But, why this question, when Russia, Moscow in reality don't want to know what's going on in the Caucasus. They don't want also to hear about tragedies that had taken place much closer. I won't forget Sep. 11th 1999. Then, on the Manezh Square in the center of Moscow, a military orchestra was playing and people were dancing - exactly at the place, where 12 days earlier, in the first bomb attack in that summer, a woman was killed. Two days earlier, explosion in the house on the Guryanov Street killed more than 100 residents of Moscow. And they were dancing, having fun.

On Friday, after the tragedy in Beslan, I was calling my acquaintances in Moscow. They were telling me, that for the whole day in offices, their work places there were discussions only about the massacre, and were repeating that everyone was indignant on the authorities, because "children got killed, and the Chechens, these monsters, walk our streets and nobody hits them on their mugs", adding that the president, the government should act, "like Stalin" - without any mercy - and "take them all away somewhere to hell"

I recalled myself that on the 11th of Sep. of 1999, when I had enough this image of dancing on the Manezh Square, I went to the river Moscow, to the famous House at Naberezhnaya, where in the 30's, the Soviet elite used to live. In 1937, people were disappearing from there every night, taken away by the NKVD. Neighbours were pretending that they weren't noticing this, pretending that nothing was going on. How strong in this country is still this Stalinist ghost?

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