Beslan Crisis


Beslan Crisis
   On 1 September 2004, the first day of the new school year, Islamist terrorists took control of School Number One in Beslan, North Ossetiya. More than 1,000 people, mostly children, were taken hostage for three days. The hostage takers, reputedly directed and funded by the Chechen guerilla leader Shamil Basayev, demanded an end to the second Chechen War. Ultimately, Russian security forces, which had initially stated that force would not be used, stormed the school, resulting in the deaths of more than 330 hostages, including 186 students. The assailants, 31 of whom were killed in the assault, were mostly of Ingush and Chechen backgrounds, though there were also a number of foreign fighters including two British citizens of Middle Eastern origin. The terrorist attack inflamed ethnic relations between the local Ossetian population and their Muslim Ingush neighbors, as well as sparking attacks on various individuals of North Caucasian appearance across other parts of Russia. Vladimir Putin used the postcrisis political environment to augment his promised vertical of power, most importantly by abolishing direct election of regional governors and instituting a proportional system for the State Duma. Both reforms served to expand his own influence and deter criticism of the Kremlin.
   See also Electoral reforms of 2004–2005; Ethnic violence; Nord-Ost Theater Siege.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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