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Beslan Mothers Who Blamed Putin For School Tragedy Sentenced

A group of women who blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Beslan school massacre have been sentenced to either community service or fined.

At about 3 a.m. on September 2, a court in Beslan found the women guilty of violating the law on holding public gatherings and sentenced three of them to 20 hours of community service, while two others were fined 20,000 rubles ($305).

Another woman, who did not wear an anti-Putin T-shirt but stood with the protesters to express her support, was also sentenced to 20 hours of community service.

The women's protest was held on September 1, the 12th anniversary of the 2004 hostage tragedy at Beslan's School No. 1 that left 334 people dead, including 186 schoolchildren.

As a school bell rang near the ruins of the school on September 1, the five Beslan mothers whose children died or were hostages at the school took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts that read "Putin is the Executioner of Beslan."

Armed Islamic militants, mostly from the Russian regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia, stormed the Beslan school on September 1, 2004 -- taking about 1,200 children, parents, and teachers hostage and demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya.

Most of the victims died when Russian security forces used armored vehicles to try to rescue the hostages, who had been held in a gym that the militants had booby-trapped with explosives.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta