“I don’t feel guilty that women and children died,” he said. “But I can say neither I nor anyone else could have saved them. Because the decisions were made by other people.”
Kulaev has been serving a life sentence for being part of the terrorist group responsible for the September 2004 Beslan tragedy, which took a total of 334 lives.
Celebrating the first day of the school year turned into a nightmare for 1,128 Beslan children, teachers and parents, who were taken hostage by terrorists, rigging the school with explosives.
For three days hostages were held at gunpoint and denied water, food or medical help, until the captors detonated explosives inside the school. After that security forces intervened to free the hostages.
“I wish I could or would want to curse you or your children,” Alevtina Khanaeva, who lost her daughter in the attack, wrote in a letter to the only surviving Beslan terrorist. “There’s nothing more painful than seeing your child die when you can’t help!”
Kulaev says he did not know that the school was to be seized until the group arrived there. Learning that children were the target did not change much for him, though.
“They were in charge. Let them do what they want. I did what I had to do, that’s all,” Kulaev says. “Why should I have [objected to going to the school]? They would’ve killed me first.”
Instead, they killed children. Susanna Dudieva, who lost her son Zaur in the attack, recalls the horror of discovering his body in a morgue.
“As I entered, I only saw his heels but I knew it was Zaur,” she told RT. “I went up to him. His chest was wounded. It was broken. I could see his bones and, as far as I understand, I saw his heart. He was so handsome. His face was untouched. His hands and head were a little burned… but nothing else was wounded. Just his chest and head.”
Dudieva was also among the parents who marked the grim anniversary by spilling out their insatiable grief in letters to the terrorist. They asked a lot of questions: “Why do people kill each other? What would you do to a person who killed [your children]? What would you like your children to be?”
Kulaev refused to reply to the letters, but still picked one question to answer on camera.
“She asked me if I want my kids to be like me. I’d really like them to be like me, sure,” he said. “But I don’t want them to share my fate. I wouldn’t want that. But I’d only be happy if they really were like me.”
The terrorist might sound confident, while not actually feeling that way, said Alevtina Luchnikova, the senior psychologist at the penal colony Kulaev is kept in.
“When I talked to him, he confessed he often has nightmares. He sees blood coming from the walls,” she told RT.
“A terrorist’s logic is distorted,” the psychologist added. “It’s based on emotions, there’s no common sense left. They believe in some mission based on some religion which is also distorted. I don’t know any religion that would approve of murdering children.”
More stories from the survivors of the most abhorrent terrorist acts ever committed in RT’s new documentary “Letters to a Terrorist”.
The site of the tragedy, former school #1 in Beslan, a small town in Russia’s North Ossetia, will become the center of the remembrance ceremonies which have been annually held since 2005.
In what has now become a tradition, the three-day events to commemorate those killed in the attack, will start at the schoolyard with a bell ring. Such bells ring in all Russian schools on September 1, symbolizing the beginning of a school year. For survivors of the Beslan massacre and relatives of the victims it is the bell toll that divided their lives 'before' and 'after'.
Hundreds of people, including public activists and top officials, are expected to come to the site to pay their tributes to the hostages and those who lost their lives in the tragedy. They will lay more flowers and light candles at the walls of the ruined school building and a recently opened monument: a 50-meter long granite memorial with the names of all the victims carved on it. Toys and bottles with water will be brought in: the captives were held in the cramped, stuffy school gym and suffered from unbearable heat and thirst.
On September 2, a requiem concert will be held on the stage of Beslan’s culture center. On Wednesday, at a ceremony in the schoolyard, students will release into the air 334 white balloons - the number of people who died in the hostage crisis. Later in the day, the commemorating ceremonies will move to the town’s cemetery – called The City of Angels – where hundreds of the victims were laid to rest.
The bloodiest terrorist attack in Russia’s history claimed - in official figures – the lives of 186 children, 118 relatives or school guests, 17 teachers, 10 special forces officers, 2 Emergencies Ministry employees and one policeman. A further 810 people were injured.
RT looks back at 2004 Beslan hostage crisisWednesday, September 1, 2004
The Day of Knowledge, the beginning of a school year. A long-awaited event for first-graders: dressed nicely, with their brand-new school kits they rushed to Beslan’s school #1 for their First Bell ceremony. Many pupils were accompanied by relatives and younger siblings. A noisy crowd of people – including 859 students and 59 teachers - gathered in front of the school building for festivities.
Shortly after 09:00 am local time 32 heavily-armed gunmen on two vehicles broke into the school and opened fire. Several civilians were killed in the shootout between the attackers and local police who ran to the scene after first gunshots were heard.
The terrorists ordered the people to get inside the school building. Between 50 to 100 people – primarily high-graders and adults – managed to run away, but about 1,100 hostages were forced into the sports hall.
The gunmen barricaded doors and windows in the gym and started mining the building with explosive devices. Russian media reported that there were two women wearing suicide-bomb belts among the attackers.
At around 10am one hostage, an adult man Ruslan Betrozov, was reportedly shot dead in the gym, right in front of the children, after trying to talk to the terrorists and calm down the captives.
By 11am the school territory was surrounded by police forces and residents of nearby buildings were evacuated. Senior public officials arrived at the site. Two authorities suggested exchanging themselves for captured children, but the terrorists turned down the proposal. President Vladimir Putin canceled his summer vacation in Sochi and returned to Moscow.
The attackers, filming everything that was happening inside the school, announced they would only talk to the president of North Ossetia, president of the neighboring Republic of Ingushetia or Vladimir Rushailo, who was Russia’s Interior Minister in 1999-2001. The latter was however confused with Professor Leonid Roshal, a famous Russian pediatrician, by the hostage who was taking down the note. The terrorists demanded the withdrawal of armed forces from Chechnya (a Russian republic in the North Caucasus) and the release of a group of arrested gunmen.
The hostage-takers threatened to blow up the school in case police attempted to storm the building. They put children in the windows using them as human shields and said they would kill 50 hostages for every killed member of their group and 20 – for every wounded one.
At 3:50pm the Russian Air Force delivered the first groups of Special Forces troops.
Between 4 and 4:30pm, a blast and shooting were reported in the seized school. Several hostages died and their bodies were thrown out of the windows shortly later.
Dr. Roshal, though unwanted by the gunmen, still managed to establish contact with them at around 8pm. They insisted that the presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, along with Putin’s advisor Aslambek Aslakhanov, must participate in the talks as well.
By 9pm a large crowd of people – mainly the hostages’ relatives – had gathered outside the school building. The gunmen refused to accept medicine, water and food for the hostages.
Thursday, September 2, 2004
Negotiations between Roshal and the attackers continued late into the night, but brought no breakthrough.
In the morning, the head of oil refining company RussNeft, Mikhail Gutseriev, offered terrorists money in exchange for hostages. They declined the proposal.
At 2pm President Putin made his first official statement on the situation: “Our main task is, of course, to save the lives and health of the hostages. All actions of our forces dealing with the hostage release will be focused on that exclusive task.”
As a result of negotiations, by 4pm the gunmen agreed to meet with former Ingush President Ruslan Aushev. After the talks, 26 hostages – women with babies – were released. The gunmen also handed a message to Aushev with their demands: the withdrawal of troops from Chechnya and full sovereignty to the republic.
Meanwhile, Roshal continued negotiations with the attackers, asking them to allow food and water be passed to the captives, but the talks yielded no positive results.
Friday, September 3, 2004
Several blasts rocked the school and shooting was reported during the night and early in the morning.
Those released said that the number of hostages inside the building was over 1,000 instead of 354 as it had initially been thought.
Shortly after the noon, the terrorists allowed Emergencies Ministry workers to approach school to retrieve the bodies of those killed that had been lying in front of the building for two days.
At around 1pm, as rescuers got to the site, two powerful explosions ripped through the school gym followed by gunfire. It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts, but later reports suggested that the gunmen provoked them accidentally. According to one version, a suicide bomber blew herself up. According to another, explosive devices placed into hoops in the gym fell down.
The blasts triggered chaos, with hostages trying to flee through a hole in the wall and terrorists opening fire on them. Security forces returned fire and helped a dozen captives run away, often sheltering them with their own bodies.
The gunmen attempted to force the remaining hostages from the partly ruined sports hall to the canteen.
At 1:10pm security forces started storming the building. Snipers opened fire on terrorists’ firing points while troops were evacuating the hostages. Federal Security Forces (FSB) officers broke into the gym: there were dozens of wounded and exhausted hostages there, but the terrorists had moved to the school canteen and were shooting from there.
At about 2.20pm a blaze broke out in the sports hall. By the time fire brigades arrived at the scene, the majority of hostages from the gym had been evacuated. About a hundred special forces troops were inside the building. Five militants were reportedly killed.
After 3pm evacuation from other parts of the school was still ongoing amid a continuing gunfight. Mobile medical units were deployed in the area to immediately help the wounded before taking them to hospitals in Beslan and Vladikavkaz.
Between 6 and 7pm, after it was established that there were no more captives in the school building, troops used Shmel rocket infantry flamethrowers against the militants. Two T-72 tanks were also deployed in the nearby area. By 9:30pm the hostage-takers were proclaimed eliminated and shortly before midnight the school was under full control of security forces.
Saturday, September 4, 2004
Rescuers continued recovering the bodies of the victims from the school debris.
Relatives who had not found their loved ones alive flocked to hospitals and examined the long lists of injured placed on the walls, hoping to find names among them.
Those who lost hope had to look among the dead bodies.
President Putin arrived in Beslan in the early hours on Saturday and visited one of hospitals.
Sunday, September 5, 2004
The official death toll rose as some of the badly injured died. Over 50 remained in critical condition.
The first funerals took place.
North Ossetian Interior Minister, Major General Kazbek Dzantiyev, announced his resignation. He said that “as an officer and a man” he had “no right” to occupy his post after what happened in Beslan.
Monday, September 6, 2004
Mass funerals took place in Beslan. Two days of national mourning began in Russia.
The aftermath of the Beslan hostage crisis
A decade on, the survivors of the tragedy still cannot forget those terrible days they spent on the verge of death. Those who lost their loved ones do not believe their psychological wounds will ever heal. They keep coming to site of the attack – which has since been turned into a memorial – and to the cemetery, the City of Angels, one of the rare graveyards in North Ossetia where both Christians and Muslims were laid to rest.
“There are no Muslims and Christians here. They are children. They are innocent creature. And all people come [to the cemetery] – Christians and Muslims…They come in tears and go in tears,” Kaspolat Ramonov, the keeper at the City of Angels told RT. His family was taken hostage in 2004. The wife and son seriously injured and his eldest daughter was killed.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
More than 100 A-Listers have reportedly fallen victims to a hacker, who shared the photos online, exposing photos of Hollywood’s celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Keegan and Kristin Dunst.
Although not all of the pictures’ authenticity could be confirmed, Jennifer Lawrence's representative already said that the movie superstar's photos were stolen calling the hacking a <="" em=""> the Mirror reports.
“The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Popular Destination 3 took to the Twitter to react to having her images exposed.
Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked.
— Mary E. Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) August 31, 2014
To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.
— Mary E. Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) August 31, 2014
Ariana Grande and Victoria Justice, whose names appear on the hacker's exposure list both denied the pictures of them are real.
These so called nudes of me are FAKE people. Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*
— Victoria Justice (@VictoriaJustice) August 31, 2014
GUYD WE ARE SO STUPID THE VICTORIA JUSTICE NUDES ARE FAKE, LOOK. CLEARLY AN OLD PICTURE OF HER EDITED & FLIPPED. pic.twitter.com/T9cayuc2ZI
— Domi | 40 (@JusticeCosgrove) August 31, 2014
Other reported victims include, Kate Upton, Hope Solo, Krysten Ritter, Yvonne Strahovski, and Teresa Palmer.
According to some reports the pictures could be retrieved due to Apple’s iCloud vulnerability that allowed the hacker to get access to celebrities’ photo streams. The perpetrator then posted some of the images on 4chan, an image-based bulletin board, along with a list of possible victims.
Twitter is the meantime has begun suspending all accounts that published any of the leaked photographs exposing celebrities.
I just hope to heck this doesn't ruin this amazingly talented, grounded young woman's confidence, & thus career. #JenniferLawrence
— Katie (@SciPhiKat) August 31, 2014
OpenBazaar, one of the first fully functional decentralized p2p online Bitcoin marketplaces, plans to release their first beta sometime Sunday night, kicking off what is expected to be the beginning of the end of centralized exchanges like eBay who impose both strict regulations and heavy fees on their users. The software will be released for […]
The post Decentralized marketplace, OpenBazaar, to release first beta Sunday appeared first on CoinBuzz.