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Beslan Commemorations Begin

1 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Schools in Russia today launched the new academic year with a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Beslan school hostage massacre. The tragedy began one year ago.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Beslan, in the Russian Caucasus republic of North Ossetia, to take part in three days of ceremonies and events to honor the victims.

On 1 September 2004, armed pro-Chechen separatist militants took hostage more than 1,100 pupils, parents, and teachers. The standoff ended two days later, on 3 September, when bombs exploded and Russian forces stormed the building.

At least 318 hostages, more than half of them children, were killed.

Radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev has claimed responsibility for organizing the hostage taking.

Ahead of the anniversary, mothers of some of the victims have renewed accusations that government authorities mishandled the crisis, in part leading to the high death toll.

They are due to meet with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on 2 September.


See RFE/RL's dedicated webpage, see "Remembering Beslan"

Audio Slide Show -- Beslan: One Year Later. Real Player, Windows Media