Thursday, December 15, 2005

Beslan Probe to Deliver Report

According to RIA Novosti, the Russian federal parliamentary commission investigating the terrorist attack on Beslan will present the results of its work on December 28. This was announced by the deputy speaker of the Federation Council (The RF Duma's upper house) Alexander Torshin, who is heading the commission.

There is also a Reuters report today in which an uncompromising Torshin goes on record as saying "it was a mistake to blame anyone other than the rebels loyal to Chechen leader Shamil Basayev who launched the raid." Further hardline statements by Torshin are also noted:
"Why is the public so interested in seeing guilty bureaucrats punished and not in the arrest, say, of the masterminds behind the terrorist act," he told the official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

"Basayev is still at large and we do not know if he is planning any more outrages."

His comments contradict an investigation by local parliamentarians in the North Ossetia region which concluded last month that the bloodshed was "first and foremost the fault of law-enforcement bodies".

Ossetians have long argued that corrupt officials either ignored or colluded in the rebel group's journey to the school, and then failed to organise an effective response.

Torshin accepted officials would have to answer for failing to stop the raid, but said concentrating on their guilt was bizarre.

"The blame for the most bloody terrorist act in Russia's history lies with the terrorists ... This should not be forgotten," he said. "It's as if on Sept. 1 they came to the school not with guns and explosives but with bunches of flowers. If people talk about those who are guilty these days, people only look for them among the security forces."

His comments chimed with the hard-line approach of President Vladimir Putin who considers the 11-year Chechen war and related raids to be attempts by international terrorists to destabilise Russia, rather than a battle for independence.

After the siege, Putin demanded -- and received -- extra political powers to allow him to stop guerrilla attacks, although he has promised that officials will be punished if they are found guilty by Torshin's probe.

Basayev himself has said the raid was a security services' sting that went wrong after rebels ignored where a Russian agent wanted them to go, and seized the school instead.
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