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Beslan: Portraits Of Grief


Boris Ilyin, holding photographs of his granddaughter Zarina, his daughter Elvira, and his grandson Amirkhan - Boris Ilyin brought his family from Tashkent to Ossetia to visit their historic homeland two weeks before the siege. The family decided that they should let their first-grader, Zarina, go to school in Beslan during their stay so she wouldn't miss too much of the school year. On September 1, 2004, Boris's daughter Elvira took Zarina, her 4-year-old son Amirkhan, and their 8-year-old cousin Georgy to school. Georgy was the only one who survived.
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Boris Ilyin, holding photographs of his granddaughter Zarina, his daughter Elvira, and his grandson Amirkhan - Boris Ilyin brought his family from Tashkent to Ossetia to visit their historic homeland two weeks before the siege. The family decided that they should let their first-grader, Zarina, go to school in Beslan during their stay so she wouldn't miss too much of the school year. On September 1, 2004, Boris's daughter Elvira took Zarina, her 4-year-old son Amirkhan, and their 8-year-old cousin Georgy to school. Georgy was the only one who survived.

Elvira (left), Artur, and Georgy Tuayev, holding portraits of Karina (seventh grade) and Khetaga (fifth grade) - The family remembers Karina balking on the first day of school: “I don't want to go! Let's go home!” “She had a premonition -- why didn't I listen to her?" her grieving mother, Elvira, asks. She went with her two children to the first-day assembly. A three-day nightmare followed that ended with Elvira being carried out alive. Her children didn't survive. Three years later, Elvira was invited to the United States to talk about her ordeal. "I thought, God, what am I going to talk about? There was a room full of people, a table full of food. I remember, I picked up a glass of water and looked at it, and it all just rushed out of me. 'Do you know what a drop of water is? What it tastes like? How much you can crave it? I sat and watched as people were dying in front of me, not eating, not drinking.' I told them everything -- how we sat, how thirsty we were, how we drank urine fr
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Elvira (left), Artur, and Georgy Tuayev, holding portraits of Karina (seventh grade) and Khetaga (fifth grade) - The family remembers Karina balking on the first day of school: “I don't want to go! Let's go home!” “She had a premonition -- why didn't I listen to her?" her grieving mother, Elvira, asks. She went with her two children to the first-day assembly. A three-day nightmare followed that ended with Elvira being carried out alive. Her children didn't survive. Three years later, Elvira was invited to the United States to talk about her ordeal. "I thought, God, what am I going to talk about? There was a room full of people, a table full of food. I remember, I picked up a glass of water and looked at it, and it all just rushed out of me. 'Do you know what a drop of water is? What it tastes like? How much you can crave it? I sat and watched as people were dying in front of me, not eating, not drinking.' I told them everything -- how we sat, how thirsty we were, how we drank urine fr

The Kusov family with a portrait of Anzhela - Her family called her Zyozya. On the first day of school she went with her former classmates, her cousin Aslan and her best friend Diana. Her parents were in Moscow at the time. Anzhela and Diana were killed; Aslan was seriously wounded. In the gym, Anzhela helped the children, giving them cloths soaked in urine so they could somehow quench their thirst. One of the terrorists shouted, "Don't you understand that you have to sit quietly?" and he wanted to shoot. He heard us laugh and say, "Well, go ahead and shoot. What are you standing there for?"
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The Kusov family with a portrait of Anzhela - Her family called her Zyozya. On the first day of school she went with her former classmates, her cousin Aslan and her best friend Diana. Her parents were in Moscow at the time. Anzhela and Diana were killed; Aslan was seriously wounded. In the gym, Anzhela helped the children, giving them cloths soaked in urine so they could somehow quench their thirst. One of the terrorists shouted, "Don't you understand that you have to sit quietly?" and he wanted to shoot. He heard us laugh and say, "Well, go ahead and shoot. What are you standing there for?"

Zhanna Dzogoyeva with her son Georgy - Georgy's sisters, Fatima and Zalina, were in the school during the siege. Only one survived. Fatima, the older of the two, is now partially paralyzed as a result of a shell fragment that lodged in her skull. The younger, 8-year-old Zalina, died in the fire that consumed the school at the end of the siege. Her family remembers her as a natural leader and a social butterfly who loved to entertain guests. "Let's move down from the fifth floor!" she told her parents. "No one wants to climb all that way." Zalina died together with her best friend, Olya.
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Zhanna Dzogoyeva with her son Georgy - Georgy's sisters, Fatima and Zalina, were in the school during the siege. Only one survived. Fatima, the older of the two, is now partially paralyzed as a result of a shell fragment that lodged in her skull. The younger, 8-year-old Zalina, died in the fire that consumed the school at the end of the siege. Her family remembers her as a natural leader and a social butterfly who loved to entertain guests. "Let's move down from the fifth floor!" she told her parents. "No one wants to climb all that way." Zalina died together with her best friend, Olya.

Tamara Shotayeva and her grandson, Georgy Kuchuyev - Tamara lost her daughter Albina and her granddaughter Zarina, who was starting second grade. Tamara's husband, Tsara, couldn't cope with the loss and died soon after of heart failure. During the siege, Tamara was visiting her sick mother in Siberia. Her friends thought she wouldn't be able to bear the news. She suffered from asthma and had already undergone three complicated operations. But it was Tamara who identified the body of her daughter, and who has since become the source of support for the men in her family who survived the tragedy.
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Tamara Shotayeva and her grandson, Georgy Kuchuyev - Tamara lost her daughter Albina and her granddaughter Zarina, who was starting second grade. Tamara's husband, Tsara, couldn't cope with the loss and died soon after of heart failure. During the siege, Tamara was visiting her sick mother in Siberia. Her friends thought she wouldn't be able to bear the news. She suffered from asthma and had already undergone three complicated operations. But it was Tamara who identified the body of her daughter, and who has since become the source of support for the men in her family who survived the tragedy.

Lidiya Urmanova - "My grandchildren Yulechka and Yanochka visited me on the evening of August 31. We drank tea and joked. They showed me a new dance they'd learned and then went home. I saw them out and then called my daughter to ask if they'd returned safely. Then I called my eldest son Sergei. My youngest granddaughter Zalinochka picked up the phone. She was bursting with happiness. "Granny, I'm so happy!" she said. "I'm starting school tomorrow! I wish morning would hurry up and get here, I'm so excited to learn. I've prepared everything for my first day!" When I spoke with my daughter-in-law Rita, she was nervous about everything, especially that she hadn't been able to find Zalina a notebook in the Ossetian language."
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Lidiya Urmanova - "My grandchildren Yulechka and Yanochka visited me on the evening of August 31. We drank tea and joked. They showed me a new dance they'd learned and then went home. I saw them out and then called my daughter to ask if they'd returned safely. Then I called my eldest son Sergei. My youngest granddaughter Zalinochka picked up the phone. She was bursting with happiness. "Granny, I'm so happy!" she said. "I'm starting school tomorrow! I wish morning would hurry up and get here, I'm so excited to learn. I've prepared everything for my first day!" When I spoke with my daughter-in-law Rita, she was nervous about everything, especially that she hadn't been able to find Zalina a notebook in the Ossetian language."

Lidiya and Sergei Urmanov - In those September days of 2004, Lidiya lost her daughter Larisa Rudik-Urmanova, grandchildren Yulia, Yana, Zalina, Maneshka and daughter-in-law Rita. Her other daughter-in-law Natalya and her son were severely wounded. The first victim was 12-year-old Yana. She suffered from diabetes and died in the gymnasium on the second day, in front of her mother. There was no medicine. Zalina was starting first grade in 2004. She was 6 1/2 years old. Eight people from the family left for school that day. Only two returned.
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Lidiya and Sergei Urmanov - In those September days of 2004, Lidiya lost her daughter Larisa Rudik-Urmanova, grandchildren Yulia, Yana, Zalina, Maneshka and daughter-in-law Rita. Her other daughter-in-law Natalya and her son were severely wounded. The first victim was 12-year-old Yana. She suffered from diabetes and died in the gymnasium on the second day, in front of her mother. There was no medicine. Zalina was starting first grade in 2004. She was 6 1/2 years old. Eight people from the family left for school that day. Only two returned.

Soslan Batagov, whose mother and two sisters were killed - Soslan -- or Sosik, as his family calls him -- was left in the care of his father and grandparents after his mother Marina and his sisters Yulia and Alana were killed in the Beslan tragedy. Soslan, who was just 1 year old, was home with his grandmother at the time of the attack. During the siege, Marina was able to breast-feed some of the youngest hostages. A month after the tragedy, her body and those of her daughters had still not been found and the family was hoping for a miracle. But in the end, there was no miracle.
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Soslan Batagov, whose mother and two sisters were killed - Soslan -- or Sosik, as his family calls him -- was left in the care of his father and grandparents after his mother Marina and his sisters Yulia and Alana were killed in the Beslan tragedy. Soslan, who was just 1 year old, was home with his grandmother at the time of the attack. During the siege, Marina was able to breast-feed some of the youngest hostages. A month after the tragedy, her body and those of her daughters had still not been found and the family was hoping for a miracle. But in the end, there was no miracle.

Alla Sartoyeva and her son, Soslan Alikov, former hostages - When the militants began shooting and forcing people into the gym, Alla, her 11-year-old son, and a group of frightened children and adults took refuge in the school's boiler room. Some people stayed in the room. Alla knocked down the boarded door to a second room, a dark storage closet. There were 17 people in the closet. Some lay down on the floor, some hid behind basins. Soon the militants entered the boiler room and everyone there was taken to the gym. One of the militants was peering into the second room, which was dark and dusty, but did not see that people were hidden there. Everybody could hear their own hearts beating. Finally, it was quiet. After several hours, the adults broke a window leading to a small basement, where they put the children. In the end, these 17 people were saved by military forces after hiding for seven hours.
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Alla Sartoyeva and her son, Soslan Alikov, former hostages - When the militants began shooting and forcing people into the gym, Alla, her 11-year-old son, and a group of frightened children and adults took refuge in the school's boiler room. Some people stayed in the room. Alla knocked down the boarded door to a second room, a dark storage closet. There were 17 people in the closet. Some lay down on the floor, some hid behind basins. Soon the militants entered the boiler room and everyone there was taken to the gym. One of the militants was peering into the second room, which was dark and dusty, but did not see that people were hidden there. Everybody could hear their own hearts beating. Finally, it was quiet. After several hours, the adults broke a window leading to a small basement, where they put the children. In the end, these 17 people were saved by military forces after hiding for seven hours.

Alisa Bekuzarova with her grandson Djambalat - Djambalat was lucky enough to survive. But he lived through hell -- 52 hours on the floor of the school gymnasium, almost three days and nights without food or water, in sweltering heat, without the right to go to the bathroom or even move his legs when they fell asleep. And all the time sitting under grenades and bombs suspended from the ceiling, at gunpoint, along with another 2,200 people, being sworn at and threatened, watching how men are killed right in front of them. There were children of all different ages – from babies to the ones who were 16, 17 years old. Children shared all the sorrows and burdens along with the adults, and sometimes even defended their parents and grandparents.
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Alisa Bekuzarova with her grandson Djambalat - Djambalat was lucky enough to survive. But he lived through hell -- 52 hours on the floor of the school gymnasium, almost three days and nights without food or water, in sweltering heat, without the right to go to the bathroom or even move his legs when they fell asleep. And all the time sitting under grenades and bombs suspended from the ceiling, at gunpoint, along with another 2,200 people, being sworn at and threatened, watching how men are killed right in front of them. There were children of all different ages – from babies to the ones who were 16, 17 years old. Children shared all the sorrows and burdens along with the adults, and sometimes even defended their parents and grandparents.

Alan Kodzhayev (left), Tamara Beroyeva, and Zalina Kodzhayeva - Two members of this family were Beslan hostages: Tamara and her grandson Alan, who was entering second grade that year. When asked how they managed to survive, Tamara says, "With God's help!... During the explosions at the end of the siege, I was sheltering Alan with my body and part of the ceiling, full of iron bars, fell down on me. It got quiet, and I came to. I whispered to Alan, 'Let me get my legs free and we'll run away.' But when I got out from under the weight, I realized Alan wasn't there. I looked for him everywhere, but he wasn't around. I started running and shouting. And then one of the terrorists came toward me and ordered everyone to move to the cafeteria. I told him, 'I won't move until I find my grandson!' But he hit me with his gun, so I followed him. I went into the cafeteria, and there was Alan, hiding between the furnace and the table, in his underwear, holding a cookie in one hand and a glass of wat
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Alan Kodzhayev (left), Tamara Beroyeva, and Zalina Kodzhayeva - Two members of this family were Beslan hostages: Tamara and her grandson Alan, who was entering second grade that year. When asked how they managed to survive, Tamara says, "With God's help!... During the explosions at the end of the siege, I was sheltering Alan with my body and part of the ceiling, full of iron bars, fell down on me. It got quiet, and I came to. I whispered to Alan, 'Let me get my legs free and we'll run away.' But when I got out from under the weight, I realized Alan wasn't there. I looked for him everywhere, but he wasn't around. I started running and shouting. And then one of the terrorists came toward me and ordered everyone to move to the cafeteria. I told him, 'I won't move until I find my grandson!' But he hit me with his gun, so I followed him. I went into the cafeteria, and there was Alan, hiding between the furnace and the table, in his underwear, holding a cookie in one hand and a glass of wat

Timur (left) and Khetag Tamayev - These two brothers became orphans. Their entire family -- father, mother, and an older brother -- were killed in the siege. Eight-year-old Timur and 9-year-old Khetag remember only a little about them. Since they were small, their parents, Artur and Inga, left them at home with relatives on September 1, 2004. Their brother, Totraz, was starting first grade. Artur was killed during the first day of the siege. Inga and Totraz died on the last day. Timur and Khetag are being raised by their paternal grandmother.
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Timur (left) and Khetag Tamayev - These two brothers became orphans. Their entire family -- father, mother, and an older brother -- were killed in the siege. Eight-year-old Timur and 9-year-old Khetag remember only a little about them. Since they were small, their parents, Artur and Inga, left them at home with relatives on September 1, 2004. Their brother, Totraz, was starting first grade. Artur was killed during the first day of the siege. Inga and Totraz died on the last day. Timur and Khetag are being raised by their paternal grandmother.

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