MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti)
European Court Calls Russian Government to Account over Beslan
The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear the case of the siege at the school in Beslan by Chechen terrorists, Russia’s worst ever terrorist atrocity, and the actions of the Russian security forces in September 2004.
The complaint was lodged by 447 Beslan survivors and victims’ relatives, who claim that Russian officials infringed their right to life and a fair investigation and trial.
The Strasbourg court previously held an enquiry into another deadly hostage crisis, at the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow, ruling that almost 1.3 million euros in damages be awarded to the survivors and relatives of the victims.
According to the ECHR, Russia suffered several major terrorist attacks in 2004, which should have prompted the authorities to step up security. It appears that North Ossetia’s security service was aware that militant groups from Chechnya were planning an attack on a major civilian facility.
“On August 27 the local police received instructions to tighten security on the first day of school on September 1,” said Ella Kesayeva, head of Voice of Beslan, a support group for parents of children who died in Beslan. “But they did nothing.”
The only police officer present at the ceremony, which was attended by 1,200 children, parents and teachers, was an unarmed woman. Sources say the police were escorting the convoy of North Ossetian leader Alexander Dzasokhov, leaving the school unprotected.
The local police department faced charges of dereliction of duty, but was never punished. “The State Duma granted an amnesty to the members of the counterterrorism operation. This amnesty was also extended to the heads and officers of the Pravoberezhny Interior Department, located just opposite the school, who had been also busy with the convoy. The government may have forgiven them for the deaths of our children, but we haven’t,” Kesayeva said.
The hostages, including children aged from 2 months to 18 years, spent two days without sleep, food or water. The terrorists executed 16, and another 16 were injured.
“The police stormed a school full of children and civilians using tanks, flamethrowers and grenades. We doubt they were trying to save the hostages. It is more likely they were trying to destroy the terrorists,” Kesayeva claims.
The deaths of the 334 hostages could have been the result of the excessive and indiscriminate use of lethal force by the security forces. No ballistic tests were carried out.
The investigation into the tragedy has not been completed. But officials are reluctant to investigate the conduct of their colleagues, said lawyer Karina Moskalenko. “Investigators become deaf every time we mention the guilt of any officials,” Kesayeva added.
A parliamentary commission led by Alexander Torshin produced a non-committal report stating that the performance of the security services was “appropriate to the situation” and “in compliance with regulations.”
The European Court will now be asking the Russian government the same questions that Beslan survivors have been trying to ask for the past eight years. “It was the government’s duty to prevent the attack and to minimize casualties,” Moskalenko said.
Multiple Launch Rocket System Tests to Conclude Soon
Tests of Russia’s Tornado-G multiple launch rocket system tests will be completed by late May. A Defense Ministry source told the newspaper that the system will be test-fired at the Kapustin Yar development center in the Astrakhan Region.
Military and independent analysts have little doubt that the tests will be successful. The system will then be adopted by the Army to replace the Grad (Hail), Smerch (Sand Storm) and Uragan (Hurricane) multiple rocket launchers whose service lives will expire within the next eight years.
Viktor Murakhovsky, editor in chief of the defense industry magazine Arsenal, said the Russian Army still uses Soviet-made Grad systems which need replacing. “It would be better to replace them with new improved systems,” he said.
The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces estimates that the Army currently has about 600 multiple rocket launchers which are scheduled to be replaced with Tornado-G systems by 2020.
The Tornado-G version can fire 122-mm Grad munitions. The Tornado-U and Tornado-S versions are also available. The Tornado-U version can fire the same munitions as the 220-mm Uragan multiple rocket launcher. And the Tornado-S version can launch the same rockets used by the largest, 300-mm, Smerch multiple rocket launcher.
These modified, interchangeable variants differ only in their barrel diameter and can be converted to Tornado-G, Tornado-S or Tornado-U specifications.
The Tornado-G has two 15-barrel modules, and the Tornado-S features two six-barrel modules. Each launcher is mounted on a four-axle BAZ-6950 truck platform manufactured by Bryansk. Each launcher has an estimated cost of about 32 million rubles.
The Tornado multiple rocket launcher was developed by specialists at Splav (Alloy) State Research and Production Association in Tula, Russia. Splav was also the developer of the Grad, Smerch and Uragan systems. A corporate spokesperson noted that several dozen launchers could be produced annually but that production volumes could be increased. The spokesperson added that the Tornado system’s range had increased two-and-a-half fold and that it could fire reconnaissance capsules that can hover above a battlefield, plus target acquisition systems and guided munitions. In the long run, the Tornado system will be able to launch cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
Sex Bomb Goes off in Kiev
A FEMEN activist was injured in an anti-Euro-2012 rally.
A recent campaign by the FEMEN feminist movement resulted in an ambulance having to be called. The movement is famous for its provocative actions involving topless women and eye-catching slogans. On Thursday, it was the planting of a ‘sex bomb’, otherwise known as Marina Marinina, a ‘pretty woman’ of stately proportions, who was left lying at the Khreshchatyk metro station in Kiev. As her fellow protesters, clad in pink overalls, began disposing of the ‘suspicious object’, some passengers reacted oddly to the feminist escapade. One of the activists, Diana Senich, was injured in the scuffle that followed.
It started out as a peaceful protest. At 11:30, a young woman stripped to her crimson panties to display her ample curves and the words ‘Sex Bomb’ on her breasts. A yellow wig, red gloves and black stockings completed the memorable look. Passers-by stole sideways glances and edged their way to the station entrance. The more squeamish recalled Ukrainian lard and scurried away, while the more daring filmed the young lady on their mobile phones.
But that was not the end. The bomb disposal team of pink-clad FEMENists fenced off the ‘sex bomb’ with striped tape and shouted “Sex bomb in the subway!” The older and more hard of hearing passengers took fright at the word ‘bomb’. Others started swearing. All hell broke loose.
Not everyone found the ‘forced evacuation of the affected area’ funny. A man blocked off by a FEMEN activist hit the woman happened to be on his way past. She doubled up in pain on the floor. This was when most of the passengers took the women’s side. The bully was handed over to the subway guards. Diana Senich had to be hospitalized with suspected concussion.
Anna, another FEMEN member, told Moskovsky Komsomolets that the antic was designed as a protest against the Ukrainian security services, who responded to the recent blasts in Dnepropetrovsk by doing nothing more than taking garbage bins off the streets.
“The most dangerous bomb, one that can actually deform society, is the sex industry, which is rampant in Ukraine, having so many protectors in official circles,” Anna added. “We are holding the Sex Bomb campaign ahead of the Euro-2012 soccer tournament in Poland and Ukraine.”
The FEMEN movement was the first to cast doubt on the benefits of Euro-2012 and point to the destructive consequences of sex tourism and prostitution that will flourish during the championships. “So many young Ukrainian women, the most beautiful and unhappy women in the world, will be abused,” Anna believes.
The protesters recalled that in 2009 they sent a bill to the Ukrainian parliament that would hold clients rather than prostitutes liable for the crime. So far, the bill has not been read, which means the topless protests will continue. Where will the next bomb go off?
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