After a weekend of commemorations the people of Beslan are mourning the day, three years ago, when more than 300 people died in a terrorist siege, half of them children. Time may have passed but for many the pain has not. Today one white balloon for each of the lives lost that fateful day in September 2004 were released at the children’s cemetery which President Vladimir Putin has never visited.
The bereaved want him to tell them the truth about the siege. They have taken their demand to Moscow, with a protest accusing the authorities of covering up the facts.
Putin, who spoke about the Beslan loss on Saturday during a school visit, marked the deaths with a one minute cabinet silence today. But the president has so far refused to respond to parents’ accusations that it was his forces which caused the massacre. The people of Beslan are convinced Russian troops fired first, after negotiations with the Chechen terrorists broke down, and that it was their weaponry which killed so many of the victims.