The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Russian authorities failed to implement measures that could have prevented the 2004 attack in Beslan, in which more than 330 people were killed.
The court said authorities knew terrorists were preparing an attack in the area, but didn’t act to stop them from meeting and preparing.
“Insufficient steps had been taken to prevent them traveling on the day of the attack; security at the school had not been increased; and neither the school nor the public had been warned of the threat,” the ECHR said in its ruling.
In September 2004, Chechen terrorists surrounded a school in Beslan, North Ossetia in Russia, and held more than 1,000 people, including 800 children, hostage. Russian security forces stormed the building after three days and deployed heavy weapons. At least 330 hostages were killed in the crossfire, including 186 children.
The ECHR ordered Russia to pay the survivors and relatives who brought the case before the court close to a total of €3 million in damages and €88,000 to the applicants’ representatives.
The site of the tragedy, former school #1 in Beslan, a small town in Russia’s North Ossetia, will become the center of the remembrance ceremonies which have been annually held since 2005.
In what has now become a tradition, the three-day events to commemorate those killed in the attack, will start at the schoolyard with a bell ring. Such bells ring in all Russian schools on September 1, symbolizing the beginning of a school year. For survivors of the Beslan massacre and relatives of the victims it is the bell toll that divided their lives ‘before’ and ‘after’.
The bloodiest terrorist attack in Russia’s history claimed – in official figures – the lives of 186 children, 118 relatives or school guests, 17 teachers, 10 special forces officers, 2 Emergencies Ministry employees and one policeman. A further 810 people were injured.
RT looks back at 2004 Beslan hostage crisis
Shortly after 09:00 am local time 32 heavily-armed gunmen on two vehicles broke into the school and opened fire. Several civilians were killed in the shootout between the attackers and local police who ran to the scene after first gunshots were heard.
The terrorists ordered the people to get inside the school building. Between 50 to 100 people – primarily high-graders and adults – managed to run away, but about 1,100 hostages were forced into the sports hall.
The gunmen barricaded doors and windows in the gym and started mining the building with explosive devices. Russian media reported that there were two women wearing suicide-bomb belts among the attackers.
At around 10am one hostage, an adult man Ruslan Betrozov, was reportedly shot dead in the gym, right in front of the children, after trying to talk to the terrorists and calm down the captives.
The attackers, filming everything that was happening inside the school, announced they would only talk to the president of North Ossetia, president of the neighboring Republic of Ingushetia or Vladimir Rushailo, who was Russia’s Interior Minister in 1999-2001. The latter was however confused with Professor Leonid Roshal, a famous Russian pediatrician, by the hostage who was taking down the note. The terrorists demanded the withdrawal of armed forces from Chechnya (a Russian republic in the North Caucasus) and the release of a group of arrested gunmen.
The hostage-takers threatened to blow up the school in case police attempted to storm the building. They put children in the windows using them as human shields and said they would kill 50 hostages for every killed member of their group and 20 – for every wounded one.
At 3:50 pm the Russian Air Force delivered the first groups of Special Forces troops.
Between 4 and 4:30 pm, a blast and shooting were reported in the seized school. Several hostages died and their bodies were thrown out of the windows shortly later.
Dr. Roshal, though unwanted by the gunmen, still managed to establish contact with them at around 8pm. They insisted that the presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, along with Putin’s advisor Aslambek Aslakhanov, must participate in the talks as well.
By 9 pm a large crowd of people – mainly the hostages’ relatives – had gathered outside the school building. The gunmen refused to accept medicine, water and food for the hostages.
Thursday, September 2, 2004
Negotiations between Roshal and the attackers continued late into the night, but brought no breakthrough.
In the morning, the head of oil refining company RussNeft, Mikhail Gutseriev, offered terrorists money in exchange for hostages. They declined the proposal.
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By William J. Nemeth, Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Modern states are increasingly challenged by violence that has been created through the devolution of states. Devolving states are those states that have returned to a more traditional socio-political organization and as a result operate under a differing set of norms than modern states. Devolving states are unstable, highly violent, anarchic societies, as traditional norms are mixed with modern socio-political theories, norms, and technology resulting in a mixed society or a hybrid society. This thesis sets out to describe a hypothetical hybrid society by examining the ideal types of modern and pre-state societies. Likewise a hypothetical hybrid military is described by examining the salient characteristics of modern and pre-state military forces. The ideal type hybrid society and military will be explored through a case study of the Chechen separatist movement. The Chechen case study will explore the linkages between society, religion, and how the traditional and modern mix to create the hybrid society. This thesis postulates that hybrid warfare will become increasingly prevalent, and the Chechen insurgency a model for hybrid warfare. The hybrid model of society and warfare will then be used to provide recommendations as to what modern military forces; the United States in particular, can do to successfully counter the rise of hybrid warfare.
RECOMMENATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
Three salient points are essential to understanding hybrid societies.
1. Hybrid societies appear anarchic and unjust when viewed through a Western or modern lens.
However, when viewed in the context of the society’s traditional mores with an understanding of the role pre-state institutions play in that particular society, the hybrid is not as anarchic as it first appears. Furthermore, the imposition of Western style values and institutions can have a highly destabilizing effect on society as norms and the institutions to inculcate and administer them are imported into the society rather than grown from within society.
2. War and a high level of inter-personal violence are accepted as normal in most hybrid societies.
This is a direct link to the pre-state roots of these societies and helps explain the apparent willingness of hybrid societies to set few, if any, boundaries to military activities. Hybrid societies practice a form of pre-state warfare, which recognizes few, if any, of the modern limitations on warfare. For example little distinction between combatants and non-combatants is made, kidnapping is commonplace, and massacres are common in the period following a victory. Similarly, the concept of law or international conventions regulating war, when even acknowledged by the hybrid society, is either couched in terms that tend to justify their actions, or dismisses these conventions as not applicable because they are Western or Christian in origin. The debate over which is proper the Palestinian suicide terrorists killing Israeli citizens or the Israeli soldiers accidentally killing Palestinian civilians in refugee camps is a case in point.
3. Hybrid societies, while emphasizing their traditional roots, create and use state institutions and exploit modern technology that suits their needs.
As seen in the case of Chechnya, the Chechens are a modern people who wish to live in a more traditional manner. They are not a lost people or throwbacks to an ancient era, and as a modern people they have been able to choose what aspects of modernity they wish to include in their society. The result is a tribal style society that has a nominal central government along with nascent bureaucratic institutions, which are used by the hybrid society to interact with more modern societies. Few societies attempt a radical elimination of modernity, as did the Khmer Rouge and Taliban. Most choose to adapt
technology to be useful in more traditional settings.
Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who directed the Beslan school siege and numerous other terrorist attacks in Russia in a long-running separatist campaign, was killed by an explosion in southern Russia, officials here reported.
The death of Russia’s most-wanted man is a milestone for the Kremlin and its Chechen allies in their battle against an increasingly decimated rebel movement in Muslim-majority Chechnya. The guerrillas have fought two full-scale wars with an often brutal Russian army in the past 11 years, and recently have sought to spread instability and violence across other republics of the Northern Caucasus region.
“This is a just retribution for the bandits,” President Vladimir Putin said in televised remarks. “For our children in Beslan . . . and for all the terrorist acts carried out in Moscow and other regions of Russia.” But he warned Russians not to expect the violence to end.