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EU Deputies Press For Action On Beslan Mothers

Heidi Hautala, head of the EU Parliament's subcommittee on human rights
Heidi Hautala, head of the EU Parliament's subcommittee on human rights
Three members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who visited families of the victims of the 2004 Beslan school massacre at the beginning of September say they will press EU authorities to demand from Russia greater openness on the issue, RFE/RL reports.

Thijs Berman, a Dutch Social-Democrat MEP, said Beslan Mothers and other nongovernmental organizations representing victims' families are denied elementary courtesy by Russian authorities in their quest for the truth behind the events that left more than 300 children dead.

"When they ask, judges or prosecutors say, 'Why do you care? They're dead, aren't they?'" he said. "That's what they told us in Beslan. It was extremely shocking to hear about the really cynical and cold way the Russian authorities treat these women. And I think it's typical of the way they treat their own citizens."

Heiti Hautala, chairwoman of the European Parliament's subcommittee on human rights, said the EU must make Beslan part of its human rights dialogue with Russia.

She also said the parliament's upcoming report on a new strategic EU-Russia treaty currently being negotiated will broach the issue.

On September 1, 2004, armed Chechen militants seized more than 1,100 hostages, most of them children, at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia.

More than 330 people died in the chaotic storming of the school three days later by Russian forces.