Friday, December 16, 2005

Beslan: Taking the Blame

Valery Andreyev, head of the Beslan crisis headquarters during the 2004 siege and hostage-taking, has been giving evidence at the trial of Nurpashi Kulayev, whom the Russian authorities claim is the only terrorist to survive the attack. Andreyev was also in charge of the North Ossetian branch of the FSB at the time, and admitted yesterday that he had given the orders for the federal forces to seize the school. On other questions, however - questions which continue to rouse emotions and divide opinion both in the local community and wider afield - Andreyev was less inclined to take full blame. The Moscow Times has the following:
Andreyev appeared to indirectly confirm that senior FSB officers had overruled him, saying that he had not ordered the use of flamethrowers and tanks in the taking of the school. The use of heavy weaponry is believed to have caused many deaths among the hostages.

"Responsibility for the deployment of tanks and flamethrowers is borne by the head of the [FSB] Center for Special Operations [Alexander] Tikhonov," he said. "This matter was not under my authority."

Andreyev began his testimony by offering condolences to in the courtroom who had lost relatives in the attack. The relatives responded angrily that they did not want his sympathy.

"I feel moral responsibility for what happened," Andreyev said. "All the pain is in my soul."
RFE/RL places emphasis on Andreyev's assertion that the crisis centre that was set up to deal with the school hijacking "remained directionless for nearly 24 hours".
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