Final report on '04 deaths at Russian school blames only terrorists

December 23, 2006|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MOSCOW -- A Russian Parliamentary commission issued its final report yesterday on the terrorist seizure of a public school in Beslan in 2004, briefly highlighting law enforcement mistakes but placing blame for the hundreds of deaths on the terrorists alone.

The long-awaited conclusion, read aloud by the commission's chairman during a session of the parliament's upper house, ended more than two years of investigation into the worst terrorist act in modern Russian history.

It suggested a hardening of the Kremlin's position on one of the most painful public episodes of President Vladimir V. Putin's administration, brushing aside lingering questions about the events and insisting that authorities, in spite of many well-documented problems, had done an adequate job.

The Kremlin had pledged that the special commission, stacked with politicians loyal to Putin and working out of public view, would establish the facts and report the truth.

But the delivery of the report did little to satisfy embittered survivors and bereaved families, some of whom labeled it a whitewash.

More than 1,100 people were taken hostage at a school in Beslan on the first day of the 2004 academic year. The terrorists had been sent by Shamil Basayev, the fugitive leader of a group that sought the independence of Chechnya.

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