International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 10, 2004

September 10, 2004





**  With the "sick massacre" of Beslan's children, terrorists "crossed a new line" in barbarism.

**  Condemning the "cowardly" attack, writers also fault Russia's "ruthless Caucasus policy."

**  Russian dailies split over Putin's persistence in maintaining a "tough line."

**  Critics imply Putin is trying to play the "al-Qaida card" to win West's support on Chechnya.




A 'higher level of savagery' in terror; rebels deserve no 'understanding'-- Global writers held nothing will ever justify "butchering children"; any sympathy for the Chechen independence movement "evaporated at School No. 1."  Writers shared the conviction of India's right-of-center Pioneer that "coldly and consciously" treating children "as lambs to an outrage against humanity."  Reflecting how "not so long ago" many in the West had sympathized with the Chechen cause, Prague's mainstream MF Dnes averred the tragedy "totally obliterated any memories of the brutal actions of the Russian army in Chechnya."  It was "a new low," added the center-left New Zealand Herald, and "in fact marks an end for the Chechen rebels."


'Strength and dialogue'-- Although they had "no doubt" Chechen militants and their supporters were to blame, observers also faulted "Russian repression" and President Putin's style and policies for the "tragic outcome."  Euro critics flatly declared Beslan a "patent failure" for Putin and proof that he is "unable to improve the security" of his nation.  Although many understood the "pain and urge to do something," they opposed Putin's taking an even "harsher policy" and fear his vow of "pre-emptive military strikes" could, as Financial Times Deutschland warned, "turn the next level of the counterterrorism war...into a horror trip."  Papers advocating a political solution, such as London's left-of-center Guardian, stressed "Russia's friends have a duty to urge it to seek political dialogue that promises some slender hope beyond the bloodshed."


'Compromise' is 'out of the question'-- While Russian dailies acknowledged Beslan was a "terrible defeat for Russia" and a "severe political crisis for Putin," editors scorned outside calls for "dialogue" with separatist leaders.  A literary weekly rejected the very suggestion that Putin "should start talks with those monsters."  Official Rossiyskaya Gazeta intoned that "for all its arrogance, the West must realize that no country...can teach Russia the 'right' policy in the Caucasus."  But business and opposition papers challenged Putin's adherence to a "deeply and tragically erroneous view."  Rather than "razing another village to the ground," advised Vedomosti, the Kremlin "would do well to develop a wiser strategy, not a sterner one."


Terrorism following 'its sinister script of sowing hate'-- Skeptics implied that Putin was exploiting the possibility of an al-Qaida connection to gain support from the West--similar to the "carte blanche" Washington received after 9/11--and camoflauge his "heavy-handed, ineffective" Chechnya policy.  Italy's financial Il Sole-24 Ore explained Putin has "no intention of publicly linking" Beslan with Moscow's "barbarian war" in Chechnya, but is rather portraying the Caucasus conflict as part of a global struggle, with Russia "an innocent victim" of terror.  Some argued that "wrapping" the Chechen problem in the global war would lead to "more violence and drive more Chechen nationalists into the arms of religious fundamentalists."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR: Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 97 reports from 38 countries over September 4-9 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Putin's Wasting Asset"


An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph (9/8):  "In the immediate aftermath of Beslan, public attention is naturally focused on the paramount evil of taking children hostage for political ends.  However, given the deep-seated corruption of the Russian security forces and bureaucracy, this is unlikely to be the last incident of its kind.  With each new terrorist attack, Mr. Putin's reputation as the strongman who can sort out Chechnya will suffer....  Having propelled Mr. Putin to power, Chechnya has become a wasting asset."


"Against All"


An editorial in the conservative Times stated (9/7): "It does not help those Muslims brave enough to say candidly that terrorism now has dangerously deep roots in Islamic culture if EU ministers rush to 'understand', where they should without qualification condemn....  President Putin insisted on an urgent session of the UN Security Council to pass a resolution on Beslan.  This is a striking departure from his previous reluctance to internationalise the Chechen problem.....  Moral grandstanding in 'old Europe' helped to erode the international solidarity brought to bear after 9.11; the Beslan tragedy could help to reknit that unity.  The opportunity must not be thrown away."


"Our Business Too"


An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian read (9/7):  "But sympathy for innocent victims and their families is not enough: what, if anything, can others do to help Russia in its agony?...  In current circumstances it is bleakly certain that the Russians will be no more amenable than before to any international pressure for change.  Last week's UNSC resolution, actively sought by Moscow, was framed to condemn the 'heinous crimes' of the Chechens, not to give the UN a role in monitoring or policing the conflict.  But if there is to be a way forward, outsiders must get more involved in whatever ways they usefully can....  It will now be harder than before, but Russia's friends have a duty to urge it to seek political dialogue that promises some slender hope beyond the bloodshed."


"Putin's Media Censorship"


The conservative Daily Telegraph held (9/7):  "The importance of the media as a check on the executive is all the more important in the absence of a proper parliamentary opposition.  During his four years in office, Mr. Putin has created what one commentator calls 'a political desert' based on strong presidential power and a loyal bureaucracy.  Yet if the Russian people are to respond to his call and unite against the scourge of terrorism, they deserve to be taken into his confidence by an honest presentation of the facts.  The curate's egg of the Beslan coverage suggests that old habits of disinformation die hard."


FRANCE:  "Russian Issues"


Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (9/8): “Why do Western capitals give so much support to Vladimir Putin? Realpolitik dictates to the West that Russia is still a major state.… In the geo-strategic game, Moscow counts because it has nuclear power and holds a permanent seat at the UNSC.… But also because of its energy resources.… Even if for the U.S. those resources are far away, they can mean a second source of oil in case things go badly in the Middle East. Putin knows this. This is why he is putting the energy sector back into the hands of the State.… Another reason for this support is that 9/11 and Islam’s growth in the region have altered the name of the game, with a new solidarity in support of ‘the war against terrorism.’ By assimilating the Chechen ‘separatists’ to Islamism, Putin has the argument he needed to pursue the war in Chechnya.”


"Police Power"


Gerard Dupuy in held left-of-center Liberation (9/8): “Security in Chechnya has not been restored. Chechnya, duly controlled, is hell for its people.… For Putin it is a patent failure, but the lesson will not be drawn. His mistake is not to have failed to negotiate with the terrorists, as accusers point out, but to have excluded every option and reverted exclusively to repression.… Everything seems to indicate that Putin will continue in the famous Russian tradition of remedying the weaknesses of the police system with more police.”


"The West’s Support For Putin"


Bruno Frappat in Catholic La Croix (9/7):  “What can we say about Putin’s heart, and the visible part of this iceberg of a man? The compassion he has shown, and its limitations are enough to make us wonder.… The man who was elected in 2000 as the winner of the war against Chechnya is accountable for the perpetuation of that war, the ‘dirtiest’ ever, since the conflicts in former Yugoslavia.… Democracies have no choice: Putin is their de facto partner and their relative ally. They think that Putin and his enigma are better than the contingencies of a ‘post Putin.’ They know that the keys to the Kremlin are in the hands of Russian society. And so they make do.”


"Putin’s Failure"


Pierre Rousselin wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/6):  “In a normal country, Putin’s address after the Breslan tragedy would have been interpreted as an admission of his own impotence....  Glacial and determined, and faithful to his image, Putin showed absolutely no emotion....  He repeated what he says every time blind violence hits Russia:  it is a violence that emanates from the same international terrorism that has hit the U.S. and the West.  Once again not a word about Chechnya, as if the dirty war the Russian army is waging there had nothing to do with the determination of terrorists whose killing madness forecast more tragedies....  In a normal country public opinion would have raised its voice....  The tragedies which have hit Russia in the last ten days prove that Putin has been unable to improve the security of his citizens....  Putin is hiding his failure through repeated calls to Russian patriotism.  It is a leitmotif that will, in time, and after repeated acts of terrorism, begin to lose some of its appeal....  For the first time Putin appears extremely alone.  His stubbornness in refusing to see the real causes that lie behind terrorism may end up costing him dearly.”




Antoine de Gaudemar noted in left-of-center Liberation (9/6):  “Europe’s blindness when it comes to Russia’s Chechnya policy continues.  It is true that in matters of fighting terrorism no one is in a position to give lessons.  Everyone is keeping a low profile, including those who are quick to demonstrate in favor of the Iraqi people oppressed by America’s imperialism.  Double standards?  The solitude of the Chechnyan people in face of Russia’s imperialism is without bounds....  Moscow’s regime has shown the same insensitive, cruel and brutal face after the Breslan tragedy that it showed after the hostage-taking episode in a theater in Moscow....  Putin’s pale demeanor on television proved that he was aware of the disastrous outcome of the carnage, for himself and for the Russian army.  But one could feel he was ready to adopt an even harsher policy.”


GERMANY: "Call For Glasnost"


Christoph von Marschall noted in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (9/9): "Russia is on the move, after all.  People in small towns, in the South in particular, are demonstrating not only against the inhuman acts of terrorism, but also against a state that is not taking care of the victims and withholds information from relatives.  There are protests despite years of the party mouthpiece.… Putin's defense, which is that he does not negotiate with child murderers like the West does not negotiate with bin Laden, is fake.   Nobody asked Putin to talk with radical terrorists, but to negotiate with moderate Chechens over autonomy.  He will not be able to solve the conflict militarily."


"Escalating War"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (9/9): "The war on terror is reaching a new level.  Following the superpower America, Russia now wants to fight terrorists across the world.  Moscow wants to destroy their bases anywhere in the world by preemptive strikes.… So the next level of the counterterrorism war might turn into a horror trip.  Isn't Russia allowed to do the same after the massacre in Beslan like Washington did after 9/11?  Moscow hopes that the world faced with the devastating pictures of dead children would accept an escalating war.  It overlooks that the announced attacks on terror camps are an attack on the sovereignty of other countries.  Even a mature democracy like the U.S. has its problems with such a war - see the violations of human rights in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.  What will happen if an autocratic country like Russia is starting such a hunt?  We have seen a touch of it in Qatar recently, when two Russian agents eliminated a Chechen leader with a car bomb.  Will we see similar actions in Istanbul, London and Stuttgart?  The anger, the pain and the urge to do something is understandable after the terror attacks in Beslan, but Putin's policy is wrong." 


"What Russia Will Be"


Berthold Kohler commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/8): "The West's hope that President Putin might solve the recent act of terrorism politically was dashed immediately.  Putin's program contains the usual elements. He said that he wouldn't negotiate with child murderers, although nobody had demanded that.  Is every Chechen a child murderer?  A political solution, which Putin supposedly sought, was based on the condition that terrorists lose the support by the people, but Putin's policy of oppression has caused the opposite.  No critical comments on the war in Chechnya are allowed in the Kremlin - it would be a criticism of the person whose will is law in Russia.  As a result, there will only be an 'internal' investigation of the events in Beslan.…  Also, the West has no silver bullet to solve the Chechen conflict, but we should worry even more about the future of Russia under Putin."


"No Annoying Questions"


Barbara Oertel noted in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (9/8): "There are not just funerals in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, but also the Kremlin is acting as a gravedigger, burying annoying questions about the actual events in Beslan and whether the authorities bear any responsibility for the outcome.   In this respect, it does not come as a surprise that Putin rejected the idea of a public investigation.  This will be done internally.  We already know the result - like in the case of Moscow's Musical Theater two years ago.  All we will hear will be in line with Russia's political leadership.  Another one of Putin's failed strategies is the 'Chechenization' of the conflict.  His current diverting maneuver is to internationalize the Caucasus conflict.  He therefore does not see any link between the hostage-taking in Beslan and the barbarian war Moscow has been waging in Chechnya in the last five years.  Russia simply sees itself as an innocent victim of international terrorism."


"Putin Not Interested In Truth"


Center-right Ostsee-Zeitung of Rostock (9/8) opined: "We will never hear the full truth about the mass murder in Beslan, not least because Putin is not interested in it.  He has only agreed on an internal investigation.  Almost twenty years after glasnost not a lot is left of the new openness.  Putin is wrong if he believes he can portray the Chechen conflict as a part of the global war on terror.  The reasons of the conflict lie within Russia, and there they must be solved.  More violence will only drive more Chechen nationalists into the arms of religious fundamentalists."


"Too Confidential"


Christoph von Marschall opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (9/6):  "The Chechen terrorists and their allies do not deserve any understanding.  Our solidarity must focus on the victims, the Russian and Chechen civilian population who have suffered for years from war and terror.  But Putin?  It is true that one has to cooperate with him, including against terror.  But a conscience that stirs because of the U.S. cannot be silent over Russia.  What has happened to the claim of the Red-Green government to give human rights a greater value?  Is this government blind in one eye?"


ITALY:  "Putin: ‘Preventive War Against Terrorists’” 


Roberto Fabbri notes in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (9/9): “The day after reminding his western interlocutors that ‘there is no negotiating with child murderers,’ Vladimir Putin takes action.  Starting today, Moscow claims its right to carry out pre-emptive military strikes against ‘terrorists’ ‘anywhere in the world,’ just like the United States.… Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian military’s general staff, made the announcement yesterday during a meeting with U.S. General James Jones who was in Moscow to bring NATO’s support.… Baluyevsky, however, stated that the use of force would be ‘a last resort in the fight against terrorism.’  Whether words will be followed by action remains to be seen.  The Russian Army is in notoriously poor shape and its nuclear arsenal is the only thing that works within the framework of embarrassing ruin for a former superpower.”


“Useless Protests


Antonella Scott opined in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (9/8): “Russia is Putin: having assumed all powers, the President is the one accountable for a series of failures due to the fact that nothing gets done in Russia without his authorization.  There is no division of system of checks and balances, there are no organizations or parties capabile of getting the Kremlin to loosen its hold on the country.… It’s easy to support world and Russian protests...but Putin stops there.  He has no intentions of publicly linking the Beslan incident to Russia’s policy in Chechnya.… Allowing a debate within or outside Russia would compel Putin to accept criticism, suggestions, compromises, and a solution.  This is not possible.  The only way out is via the Kremlin’s intentions, which implicates a normalization of the region according to its own rules.… NATO and Russia yesterday reiterated ‘their determination to strengthen and intensify common efforts’ to combat terrorist groups.  But if their statement doesn’t include the term ‘Chechnya,’ then it will be meaningless.”


"Putin: I Owe Europe No Explanations"


Maria Ferretti noted in Rome center-left daily Il Messaggero (9/8): “During a press conference with foreign journalists...President Putin used harsh words towards the West in response to a request for clarification put forth by Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Bot, and French Prime Minister Raffarin.… Putin appeared strong and self-confident.… Putin’s Russia has been offended.  Russia has irreparably fallen from its super power rank, and after succumbing to years of humiliation, it resolved to offer the West strong support following September 11, hoping to get the same understanding in return --meaning the West’s approval of their approach in Chechnya, as well as its acceptance to classify the separatists as international terrorists.  This, however, clashes with European laws, leading to reprimands that in turn lead to frustration.  A symptom of this environment was evident in the news daily Gazeta’s violent attack yesterday against western and foreign media and its reporting of  the events in Beslan: ...instead of calling them murderers and bandits, it ennobled them in the world’s eyes by calling them ‘separatists and freedom fighters.’”


"Common Duties" 


Managing editor Stefano Folli commented on the front page of centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/5): “On September 11, 2001, the world ceased being what it had up to then been.… Three years later, another month of September in a far away Russian republic laid plain the extent to which the world has changed.  Global terrorism is in our homes. The children of Ossetia are our own. The candles lit for those deaths are the same ones that were lit for the victims of the Twin Towers.  The question is: what’s next?  We don’t know. But we know that mix of nationalism and religious fanaticism does not require a mastermind who is hiding in some cave turning out bloody illusions and endless mourning.  The ubiquitous contagion in the moderate world and the network of alliances between fundamental groups suffices. This is how Chechnya, crushed by Russian repression, became a laboratory for fundamentalism.… Putin must not be left alone with his ghosts, regardless of Moscow’s responsibilities in the Chechen issue. The Russian ghosts are ripe for a return to an exasperated form of nationalism, to the prevalence of military units, and to the hindering of democratic process.   Similarly, the solution in Iraq can be found only with the help of the international community, and not with its disengagement. The truth of the matter is that crucial months lie ahead for relations between the United States and Europe.”


RUSSIA: "Doing Things The American Way"


Gennadiy Sysoyev wrote on the front page of business-oriented Kommersant (9/9): "Yesterday the United States declared that it was not going to give up contacts with Chechen separatist leaders.  This means that Moscow's hopes that, after the Beslan terror, the West will give it full support on Chechnya, are in vain.   The hopes were based on the experience of three years ago, when the United States, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, got a carte blanche to start a global war on terrorism.   More than that, Washington reserved a right to call anyone threatening its interests a terrorist.   That, too, was accepted in the world as being in order.  Moscow decided it could act likewise.   Evidently, Moscow reckoned that, under the circumstances, its tough stand on terrorism and approach to the Chechen problem would win support (at least full understanding) in the West. Yesterday's statement by Richard Boucher, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, however, poured cold water on Moscow's plans.    Mr. Boucher, speaking of the United States' intention to continue cooperating with the Russians in combating violence and terrorism, made it clear that his country's assessments of some representatives of Chechen separatists differ from Russia's."


"The U.S. Sends a Double Signal"


Yuliya Petrovskaya and Artur Blinov noted in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (9/9): "A pause for the Beslan tragedy over, the United States is back, speaking of a need for a political settlement in Chechnya and of its readiness to contribute to a settlement in the North Caucasus heavily, including through talks with the separatists.   A statement to that effect by an official spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Richard Boucher, has caused a negative reaction from Moscow.   Washington is sending Moscow a double signal.   On the one hand, the United States has sided with the Russian authorities rating the Beslan hostage crisis as an act of international terrorism.   On the other hand, Washington is turning up the heat, insisting on a political settlement in Chechnya."


"Russia Knows Best"


Vitaliy Tretyakov argued in official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (9/9): "For all its arrogance, the West must realize that no country there or in the whole wide world for that matter can teach Russia the 'right' policy in the Caucasus, simply because no country knows the Caucasus better than Russia does.  A majority knows nothing about it at all.   This is not to say that Russia need not change its policies, both external and internal,including in the Caucasus.   One of the obstacles that make the change difficult is local leaders who have been hard on the Kremlin, demanding more power and claiming that, without them, their republics will plunge into chaos....   The latest series of terrorist acts in Russia has confronted Vladimir Putin with a severe political crisis, the worst in his presidency, one that will bring about radical changes in this country's foreign and domestic policies."



"Fatherland In Jeopardy"


Under this headline, literary weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta front-paged a piece by Aleksandr Tsipko stating (9/8): "People are right when they compare terrorist atrocities in Beslan to Nazi brutalities.   More shockingly, in the days of the Beslan tragedy, some politicians suggested that Putin should start talks with those monsters.   Beslan is not only a terrible death toll.  Putin's enemies, we must admit that, reached their main goal.  Millions of people have been shocked, realizing that their country is incapable of ensuring elementary security and that what befell Beslan may happen anywhere in Russia....   Putin is right to attribute our woes to the disintegration of the great nation of the USSR, speaking of those who, as they stimulate the Chechnya war in the North Caucasus, continue to view Russia, weakened as it is, as a strategic threat and turn out of their way to get it taken apart piece by piece.   The great country fell apart not only because it was not up to the challenges of the times but also because it was in the way of a strategic rival."


"Putin's Error"


Kirill Rogov said in business-oriented Vedomosti (9/8): "The Beslan hostage crisis is a terrible defeat for Russia.  It will stay in people's memory as an unfortunate outcome of a battle in the war on terrorism, a lesson to be carefully studied and learned.  In his answers to questions from a correspondent of the British Guardian, President Putin persisted in what seems to be a deeply and tragically erroneous view, rejecting the idea of talks with the 'bastards' and 'murderers of our children.'  The tragic dilemma, however, is that the children were alive then.   It is very important to know that the terrorists' aim was not a troop withdrawal from Chechnya.  Their aim was to cause confusion in people's minds.   This is exactly what they did.  Putin's 'tough line' on terrorists has increasingly been transforming into a 'tough line' on society and its rights to information, emotions, and opinions."


"Outrage And Grief"


Boris Lebedev had this to say in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (9/7): "As the authorities were trying to hide the truth, all their clumsy attempts did was evoke popular anger.   In a country that has for years been fighting an undeclared war, telling stories about two planes crushing at the same time because of the pilots' errors and bad fuel plumbs the depth of indecency.  Why lie to us?   They would have done better if they had admitted an oversight.   The country is in the doldrums, with negligence, a lack of discipline, and irresponsibility reigning supreme.   Innocent people die for lack of security, as the government can't protect them, failing to perform its chief constitutional duty.   Outrage and grief come over you as you think about the misery we have brought on ourselves and about the incompetence of the authorities who have turned our life into one appalling and endless nightmare."


"Short-Sighted Policy"


Yuliya Latynina declared in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (9/7):  "Special services rule in Russia.  Their people account for 70 to 80 percent of the new elite, sitting on the staff of presidential envoys, heading the Drug Control Service, the Audit Chamber...they are everywhere.  For all that, our special services, though they are in charge, are not up to their job, failing in preventing terrorist acts, which is their only professional responsibility.   Why is it that special services, as they show a great interest in whatever concerns the re-division of the Yukos property and the shutdown of the free press, don't do what they are supposed to do in the first place, which is combating terror and ensuring national security?  That there have been an awful lot of also a result of Russia, its president and the Kremlin pursuing a shortsighted policy in Chechnya, and not telling us the truth....  The reason why the war continues has nothing to do with national security or glory.  It is hard to tell whether the authorities can change to become more reasonable, particularly because, as terrorists have been acting irrationally, destroying children and challenging not just the government but the entire nation, a compromise with them, obviously, is out of the question."


"Change Tack.  Give Them A Chance"


Business-oriented Vedomosti contended (9/7):  "Putin, himself a former KGB officer, while reforming the special services and militia, have had them focus on his political opponents....  Russia needs effective police measures against its true enemies.   President Putin likes tying himself to the U.S.' war on global terrorism, often with a view to camouflaging his heavy-handed ineffective policy in Chechnya.  But the disturbing reality is that Chechnya exports Islamist terror.  Rather than sending untrained rookies to battle or razing another village to the ground, the Kremlin would do well to develop a wiser strategy, not a sterner one, trying to improve intelligence gathering for starters....  There is a need for a new political approach based on talks with legitimate Chechen leaders.  The Russian president, who evidently considers all Chechens--except for those whom he knows personally--terrorists, pushed for a political solution, but failed to win public support.  The Moscow-staged elections on August 29 were neither free nor fair.  Moscow's failures in Chechnya are no justification for terror, anyway.  Just as the wave of terrorist acts of the past ten days is no justification for being rougher on Chechnya.  As we speak for both Chechens and Russians, we remain hopeful that President Putin will change his policy soon enough to give a chance to war-ravaged Chechnya."


AUSTRIA:  “The Lesson From Beslan”


Chief editor for mass circulation weekly News Peter Pelinka opined  (9/9):  “Chechnya, together with the neighboring Caucasian regions, is one of the three most dangerous tinderboxes in the world, comparable with the Far East between Afghanistan and Iraq and the Middle East with its smoldering conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. In these three conflicts, three men are trying to present themselves as hardliners against terror:  Bush intends to use 9/11 and the Iraq war to prevail against Kerry, Sharon wants to win the Israelis’ fight for survival by steering a tough course against almost all Palestinian factions, and Putin seeks to prevent a secession by the Chechens by taking a hard line.… However, they have not won their fight against terror in spite of pugnacious rhetoric and actions. On the contrary, Iraq has become the territory of international terrorists, with pacification or democracy nowhere in sight.  In the Middle East a vicious circle of mutual violence remains, and Russia is  being shattered by a wave of terror whose brutality exceeds almost all comparison.… Victory against terrorism is not to be achieved by military means alone, on the contrary. This is the lesson from Beslan that Putin has to learn, as do Bush and Sharon.”


BELGIUM:  "No Limits To The Harm Muslim Terrorism Is Prepared To Cause"


Chief editor Rik Van Cauwelaert in liberal weekly Knack (9/8): "The school in Beslan was the umpteenth victim of Muslim terror that has left a trace of blood over the whole world: from the WTC in New York and Kuta beach in Bali to train stations in Madrid and beheadings in Iraq.  Only today - after years of horror--the first hesitant voices of protest against Muslim extremism are heard in the Arab world.  There is also protest against 'the sheiks and imams who like to send other people's sons and daughters to their death while they let their own children study in Europe and the United States,' as al-Arabiya boss Abdel Rhaman al-Rashi recently said.... The Russians have always refused to negotiate about more autonomy for the Chechens.  The spreading of the conflict might have been avoided.  Chechnya has almost no natural resources.  Its oil wells are almost depleted.  Strategically, the country has only little or no importance for Russia's security.  In the meantime, with his war against the Chechens, Putin has created his own version of the war on terror.  He tries to convince his Western friends - who prefer to look into the other direction - that he is the last rampart against approaching chaos and Muslim extremism that threatens Europe and the rest of the world from the Caucasus....  The past - and the tragedy in Beslan - show that there are no limits anymore to the harm that Muslim terrorism is prepared to cause."


"Same Mistake"


Chief commentator Luc Van der Kelen commented in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (9/6):  "In Chechnya, the Russians made exactly the same mistake as the Americans in Iraq.  That conflict cannot be solved with military means.  The struggle in Chechnya has become part of a much large conflict that is flaring up everywhere in the Islamic world.  The problem is that that struggle is not conducted in a regular manner and not between a regular army and a regular state with which negotiations can be started.  The Western world--including the old Soviet empire--is confronted with an enemy who cannot be defeated with bombers and tanks.  That enemy is elusive, invisible and can hit anywhere in the world--preferably not in Islamic countries....  The Americans and the Russians will have to understand that military actions will not lead to solutions.  Europe must realize that its cities with millions of people are not safe.  Who or what can stop terrorists in a region like the Caucasus where a 10-euro note is enough to get a truck full of explosives across the border?  Or with a 'dirty' bomb or chemical weapons?  The cooperation of all the democratic forces is the only thing that can help."


"Chechnya, That Is Here, In Europe"


Chief Editor Beatrice Delvaux stated in left-of-center Le Soir (9/6):  "Nothing will ever explain or justify such barbarism.  But it is certain that, whoever the terrorists ultimately turn out to be, it is not by simply condemning these acts and by responding with the use of force only that one will prevent them from happening again.  For it was not an isolated act, but it was part of the long-lasting Chechen conflict.   And yet, as he has been doing since he made the wrong decision to invade Chechnya, Putin does not face his responsibilities and only offers the use of force as a response, whereas the failure of this policy is obvious.  Putin suddenly acts in a Stalinist--and therefore frightening--manner.  Europe made a mistake when it approved the Chechen elections, which were a farce.  It must now prevent Beslan from being forgotten, like the tragedy of the Moscow theater that was quickly forgotten.  There is an unacceptable ambiguity in condemning the adventurism of George Bush in Iraq while at the same time giving Putin a blank check, whereas in Chechnya or in the Caucasus--i.e. actually in Europe."


BULGARIA: "Putin's Responsibility"


Second-largest circulation 24 Hours commented (9/8):  "For Russia, Beslan is what 9/11 is for the U.S.  The difference is that 9/11 marked the start of a new, unexpected and global war for the U.S.  Beslan is the result of an old local conflict, no matter how many Arabs and Africans the Russian authorities seem to have seen among the hostage-takers....  President Putin should take the responsibility for the chaos in Beslan as well as for failing to  resolve the Chechen issue, even partially.  After all, this is what he was elected for.... Instead, Putin is only concerned with his macho image instead of  focusing on a lasting solution of the problem.  Beslan once again  demonstrates tragically, that stubborn bravado does not solve  hot ethnic conflicts."


"Jihad On Civilization"


Socialist-affiliated Duma held (9/8):  "The  Beslan tragedy left no doubt about the terrorists' methods - the  purposeful massacre of children was supposed to convince the public  that for the 'rebels with a cause', the most innocent human beings are  a legitimate target of their jihad....  The methods used by these  people transform their goals into a grotesque façade of religious genocide harking, back to the Middle Ages....  Those who claim that democracy has no future in Iraq or elsewhere in the Arab world not only justify the preservation of the undemocratic regimes in these  countries, but also condemn them to the growing influence of religious  extremists and fundamentalist political models.  In  reality, there is  not clash between the civilizations, but rather a terrorist attack of the new Barbarians against civilization."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "The West Will Win The Battle With Islam"


Jiri Pehe reflected in mainstream MF Dnes (9/8):  "Despite arguments presented by tolerant western experts of Islam, who warn that it is not possible to link Islam with fundamentalist violence, it is difficult to ignore the simple fact that all recent international terrorist attacks were committed by Muslim terrorists; that except for Turkey there is no other democratic Islamic country; and that the massacres of western civilians is not broadly denounced in the Islamic world.  The terror in Beslan will once again prompt discussions over 'the clash of civilizations' and whether the 'oversensitive' West can ever win over Islam.... In reality, the response of the West to terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists is proof of the incredible power of our democratic civilization.  If ever we were to start thinking in the same patterns as the Islamic fundamentalists, the West, with its technological predominance, could easily wipe out all major Islamic centers in a matter of hours without sacrificing one soldier... However, the Americans, led by their tolerance of different religions, hesitated for months before firing at the Islamic shrine in Najaf where radical Islamists built their base....  I am firmly convinced that our respect for freedom and values that are superior to mass murders in the name of race and civilization, hate and religious fanaticism are the very things that will enable us to win the battle with Islamic fundamentalism."


"Beslan Should Open Our Eyes"


The MF Dnes Editor-in-Chief, Pavel Safr observed in the mainstream MF Dnes (9/6):  "Pictures from Beslan depict hell....  Not so long ago, many people in the West...used to be  sympathetic with the Chechens.  However, the sick massacre of children in Beslan has totally obliterated any memories of the brutal actions of the Russian army in Chechnya.  Terror has become a globally interlinked phenomenon.  The various terrorist groups don’t need any central leadership, they more resemble Internet operations.  When the Americans decided to remove Hussein from power, they wanted to destroy a base for setting up criminal actions aimed at targets all around the world.  They did not provide themselves with a good PR strategy, and made a lot of mistakes, but they were trying to protect their safety.  Israeli PM Sharon made a number of statements and actions that turned many Western politicians against him, but in fact he has been doing nothing else but seeking to protect the citizens of his country.  In both cases, the UN is against [the U.S. and Israel], since especially European politicians regard [terrorism] with a mixture of naivety (‘We should not provoke the terrorists’) and cynicism (‘It’s not our problem, anyway’).  The devastating tragedy in Beslan is a warning: the criminals and fanatics in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya are global allies, and our enemies, whatever we may think.  They did not ask the Beslan kids whose side they want to take.  They simply murdered them."


DENMARK: "Russia Pulls Al-Qaeda Card"


Vibeke Sperling noted in center-left Politiken (9/9): “Russia is exploiting the fact that al-Qaida may have been involved in the Beslan tragedy.  They are making the point that they should be allowed to respond to the same enemy as the U.S. faces, in the same way.  Put like this, it is very difficult for the U.S. to criticize Russia.”  


GREECE:  "The Cycle Of Violence"


The lead editorial of influential, independent Kathimerini held (9/4): “People cannot understand this extreme form of terrorism that uses little children as shields.... Everyone knows that Chechnya is occupied and strongly oppressed by Russia.   Many people consider Chechnya to be Russia’s Iraq, as it is a region where one side exercises occupational practices, and  the other side exercises practices of guerrilla warfare....  What we see lacking in principle are political means, and so violence becomes the main form of expression....   Life has lost its value.…  Violence, coupled with religious and nationalist fanaticism, takes on incredible dimensions, and therefore it is not easy to deal with. We have seen this in Palestine, we see it in Iraq daily.”


“Violence And Politics”   


The lead editorial of left-of-center, influential, elitist Eleftherotypia argued (9/4): “The globe’s public opinion unequivocally condemns the hostage-taking of little children.  At the same moment, the international media hold accountable not only those who make the most of unacceptable methods of blind violence in order to succeed in their struggle, but also those governments that deal with political problems by means of suppression.  As a result, violence is reproduced.... Humanity is not going to find a solution to the vicious cycle of violence and the incredible barbarity that expands from the Middle East and Iraq to Afghanistan, from Africa to Chechnya, and also across Europe (Spain, Ireland) through the ‘war on terrorism’ launched by U.S. President George Bush and other warlords who have been following him to the deadlocked course of suppression.”  




Left-of-center, influential Ta Nea editorialized (9/4):  "The dramatic adventure of the [school] hostages brought to the fore anew the problem of terrorism, which is a threat for world peace.  Not only thanks to the [terrorist] attacks per se, which may destabilize various countries, but also thanks to the reactions of the states affected by terrorism.  Those reactions usually incur results that are usually opposite from those pursued, and create a vicious circle of violence and blood.  Best examples are the behavior of the Russian troops in Chechnya, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq....  Military operations only cannot confront terrorism.  A framework of dialogue has to be created through which political solutions will be found.”


HUNGARY: "Old Reflexes"


Foreign editor Gabor Stier indicated in right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet (9/8): “The Kremlin would have ‘grown into ’ the ‘job’ of handling the tragic moment properly if the Kremlin had allowed the public to face the sad facts right away.  Russia’s shoulder is still heavy with the burden of the past decades and the problems show themselves in the roughest way at a time when one would least want it.  President Putin felt that too.  Putin, visibly touched and deeply emotional, traveled to the scene [of the tragedy]. (Let’s recall how Bush disappeared on 9/11!).Covering up the facts [manipulating the reports about the number of victims], just like hypocrisy, plays into the hand of the terrorists.”


"Russia And The World After The Hostage Drama In Beslan”


Respected Russia expert Agnes Gereben observed in influential business/political Vilaggazdasag (9/7):  “Nobody can doubt today that in the Euro-Atlantic civilization terror has replaced traditional wars. It is the Jihad of the Islamic  world’s radical groups against the Jewish-Christian culture.  It is additional bad luck that in the entire process of settling accounts [with the terrorists] the two largest target countries, the United States and Russia, are both  led by politicians, who instead of being charismatic statesmen use these kinds of horrible tragedies for gaining personal political capital.  President Putin ought to destroy the regime he has created himself if he wants to see changes.”


"No Good Solutions"


Liberal Magyar Hirlap concluded (9/4):  "There were only bad and worse solutions to choose from at the school in North Ossetia.  The Russians can’t really win the war without achieving less than a genocide.  They can’t really grant independence [to Chechnya], like they did in 1991, because in that case a state run by terrorists and criminals would be their neighbor, offering even better grounds for al-Qaida than today.  The Chechen freedom fighters have become extremists.”


"Hostage Freeing Ended In Blood Bath"


Pro-government left-wing Nepszava pointed out (9/4):  "It is hardly questionable that President Putin is personally responsible for the situation.  He kept promising security for the voters for five years. But Russia’s  security today is more fragile than ever before.  Moscow's ruthless Caucasus policy has failed.  And hundreds of innocent people, women and children, have ‘paid’ for the chosen wrong policy [of the politicians] instead of those who are accountable.”


IRELAND:  "Putin Is Unlikely To Be Another Victim Of The Siege"


Daniel McLaughlin held in the center-left Irish Times (9/7):  "Putin and the Kremlin will get away with lying about what happened in Beslan because that is the way it is in Russia... critics are again accusing Mr Vladimir Putin of shirking responsibility for a bloody and humiliating crisis.  But in a country where political opposition is in disarray, parliament is packed with the president's men and the most influential media is under state control, it is unlikely that the former KGB spy will become another victim of the siege in Beslan."


NORWAY:  “A Russian Tragedy That Demands An Answer”


The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (9/6): “A solution must be sought by opening up other channels for political participation, also in Chechnya, and pressure the followers of terrorism to use these channels. It could even start to look like democracy when a majority prefers these channels.… A closer coordination of the Russian and American war on terror can now be expected. Iraq, which has just had one of its bloodiest weekends, should stand out as a warning against an exaggerated belief in the blessing of armed force. What we lack today, to a larger extent than ever before, is a strategy for the war on terror that gathers the United States, Europe and Russia.” 


"Russia’s 9/11"


The social democratic Dagsavisen noted (9/4):  "The political and psychological effect on Russia and the Russian people will be like 9/11 to the Americans.... We fear that Russia after this will tighten their grip on Chechnya even more. This will turn even more Chechens into extremists and terrorists. President Putin will therefore get sympathy and wide support from most countries in the world if he, despite the tragedy in North-Ossetia, assembles the parties for a conversation to find a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict.” 


POLAND:  “Putin’s Truth”


Editor-in-chief Adam Michnik wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (9/8): “This is the most difficult moment for Vladimir Putin. If he wanted to radically change his policy--and there is nothing to indicate he does--he would take an enormous risk and expose himself to the anger of his own political base. If he sticks to his tough-road-leading-nowhere policy--and everything indicates that he will--then he will doom Russian democracy to degeneration. For the time being, he is moved by sheer emotions. In the face of this horrible tragedy, one can understand it.... But when Putin rejects with contempt the idea of setting up a parliamentary investigating committee, he declares he fears having the truth of the tragedy disclosed.”


"Chaos And Death"


Jerzy Haszczynski contended in centrist Rzeczpospolita (9/4):  “Will the tragedy in Beslan be the last straw, or will ruthlessness in dealing with terrorists--and militants for Chechnya’s independence who are treated similarly--continue to matter only in Russia?  Perhaps the people of Russia will no longer want to bear new tragedies.  One must hope that terror will not last indefinitely, that the time for negotiations has arrived after such bloody events.”


"Hostages To The Russian Power"


Editor-in-chief Adam Michnik opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (9/6):  “[Putin’s] mysterious searching for some anonymous enemies outside Russia does not change the obvious fact:  Putin’s policy toward Chechnya has failed.  The second Chechen war, which lifted Putin up to the apex of popularity, has turned into a spiral of violence with neither principles nor scruples.  All bars--even the most inhuman--are allowed.  Meantime, Putin has announced he’s tightening the screw even more.  This is a road nowhere.”


ROMANIA:  "Terrorism Is Not Afghan-Taliban Or Just Iraqi Any Longer"


In the independent Ziua,  foreign policy analyst Victor Roncea opined (9/7):  “The horrors in the Moscow Dubrovka Theatre, where 132 people were killed by Russian special forces, are just a bad dream compared to the massacre perpetrated by Putin’s men in Beslan … The Russians took over a Hollywood horror script by only changing the characters a little bit.... After the bitter experience that the entire world had during the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of the 'anti-terrorist fight,' Russia felt it was losing ground. It has imagined that it can continue this mockery of human intelligence by using Islamic terrorism as a pretext for maintaining strategic and political control over huge areas of the world.  Was it only a coincidence that Saddam ‘the terrorist’ with his ghostly WMDs was sitting on the second largest oil reserves in the world?  Was it a coincidence that Afghanistan is the turning point of the oil and gas pipelines for all of Asia and the largest opium plantation in the world?  Is it a coincidence that Chechnya plays this same role in the Caucasus area?  How real is the fact that this ‘revival of terrorism’ is taking  place now, in America and Russia, after these imperial powers had messed around in every corner of this world? … Both Putin and Bush, who has hypnotized his voters with his ‘anti-terror fight,’ should put an end to these policies of force which stir up violence, and should treat this new global cancer in its depth, from its origins.”


"Fight Far From Over"


In the opposition Romania Libera, political analyst Razvan Scaesteanu opined (9/6):  "The terrifying hostage taking in Beslan, North Ossetia, during which hundreds of children and adults lost their lives or were wounded, and the statements of President Putin, who said that Russia was the target of international terrorism, indirectly gave two electoral arguments to the incumbent U.S. President.  The first issue (the Ossetia hostage taking) has undoubtedly awakened in Americans’ minds the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11, when 3,000 people died, and the conviction that a clear and tough position has to be adopted against terrorism, and that means exactly what Bush has done and promised that he will continue in doing.  Second, Putin’s stand underlined the fact that, despite all efforts up to now, international terrorism still has resources, and, for this reason, the fight is far from over.”


"Putin Confronted With The Most Serious Crisis Of Confidence"


In the English-language daily, Nine O’Clock, foreign policy analyst M.Hareshan opined (9/7):  “In ten days, Russia was hit three times by Chechen terrorists.... The geographic dispersion of these strikes, the losses registered on these occasions and the variety of the means used by the terrorists, have all proven the fact that all of Russia has been affected by this war.… It is undeniable that the Putin administration, and President Putin himself, is confronted with the most serious crisis of confidence on behalf of his own nation.  Likewise, it is also obvious that the Russian President will have to act very quickly to restore the nation’s confidence.  And this will undoubtedly mean a settlement of the Chechen conflict.  How will this settlement be effected - through an intensification of the war against the rebels, or through the launching of a new political process - remains to be seen.  What is however expected is the fact that Russia will get powerfully involved in fighting international terrorism anywhere where the latter might manifest itself, in Iraq or anywhere else, to be certain that it is not alone in the fight."   


SPAIN:  "Putin Rectifies"


Conservative ABC wrote (9/9): "Russia has had to suffer its own 9/11 in order to change its mind....  [Its] bet in favor of the doctrine of diplomatic means, followed by the self-called Franco-German axis, has totally changed.  Its complete opposition in the Security Council to the badly-named 'preventive war' has been replaced....  After the terrorist atrocity committed on September 3, nothing will be the same again in Russia.  The giant has been wounded.  Self-defense justifies its  reaction.  But if Russia wants to see justice done and avoid new attacks, it will have to adapt its actions to proportionate means, and try future ways of self-government that deny terrorists' propaganda.  Otherwise, Russia will fall into the same mistakes of the past....  If Putin wants to win the reputation of a leader of an open society, he has now his opportunity.  The fragility of democratic institutions should not be the excuse for a reactionary option that responds to terrorist horror with more indiscriminate horror.  Russia should learn from its failures and try to combine force with practical intelligence.  Only that way will it be possible to win the battle against Islamic totalitarism appearing in the Caucasus.


"Consequences Of The Slaughter"


Conservative La Razon wrote (9/5): "The Chechen pro-independence movement has lost at a stroke any sympathy it might have had for its age-old fight against Russia....  But Putin...should also stop considering the Chechnyan problem as a strictly internal affair of Russia and coordinate solutions with other countries....  The international community, for its part, should take  note of the massacre and face once and for all the fact that we are at war....  It is possible to defeat terrorism, but only by acting in a coordinated way among all countries, especially in the Muslim world; and by not forgetting that, together with police or military measures, one must simultaneously act diplomatically, in order to deprive groups such as Al Qaeda of the possibility of sanctuaries or havens in any country....  Politically, the world must isolate terrorists and deny them any possible sign of support or justification."


"Force And Dialogue" 


Conservative ABC columnist Ignacio Sanchez Camara wrote in a signed op-ed (9/7): "Do not let grief cloud vision.  Terrorism is not blind, so neither can be the fight against it....  What is most relevant is to understand that a nationalist cause has turned into another Islamic one.  A new focal point of Islamist terrorism is not a threat just for Russia, but for the whole civilized world....  Not having supported the intervention in Iraq does not, then, constitute a guarantee against terror.  The truth is that the only ones who don't see it don't want to see it; but the threat against the world in general and the West in particular long predated the Twin Towers and the international alliance against Saddam Hussein....  It is not Bush's foreign policy that has destabilized the world or made it dangerous.  His response may be more or less correct, but it is not the cause of Islamist terror....  The solution is not choosing dialogue and repudiating force, but rather in distributing each with discernment and efficiency....  The worst thing would be to use dialogue where force is needed, or use force when it is pertinent to negotiate.  Knowing where to use one or the other is the key....  What is needed is to decipher if there is a threat against the West that intends to destroy it, where this threat comes from and how to fight it.  The rest is secondary."


"Putin's Drama"


Left-of-center El País maintained (9/5):  "Putin should be aware that, even if he doesn't intend to change his policy on Chechnya, it has shown signs of weakness ever since he came to power.  And now it might be more difficult to change it because he doesn't have, or doesn't want to find, a valid interlocutor....  What was in the beginning a nationalist claim has become for him a terrorist phenomenon, and is now fundamentally international....  The rulers of post-Soviet Russia have been unable to manage a policy of minorities in the chaotic ethnic framework that the Federation remains....  It is not easy, just as it isn't easy in Western democratic societies either.  The problem worsens when it exists in a nation whose leaders maintain strong autocratic signs and where there are not the practices of the rule of law."


SWEDEN:  "Stop Violence And Oppression"


Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet commented (9/7):  "By disguising the war in Chechnya as one part of the war against terrorism, Russia has managed, least of all, to make the U.S. take an extenuating attitude towards the problem.  But the opposite is needed.  To shut one's eyes to Russian atrocities is neither morally appropriate, nor good realpolitik....  Judging from President Putin’s statement, a change of policy is not being considered...and to help put a stop to the (Chechen) conflict a tougher approach from the U.S. and the EU, including more frankness and criticism, will be needed....  After Beslan we must both support Russia in its fight against the terrorist groups that have been established there and increase pressure on President Putin to seek a peaceful solution in Chechnya.”


“A Continued Russian Hard Line"


The independent, liberal Stockholm morning Dagens Nyheter (DN) (9/6): "Today Chechnya is a tattered and torn society where Russian officers and Chechen gangs of robbers make great profits from organized crime. Anarchy is prevalent, a situation that encourages terrorist groups.... Normalization is quite likely the prerequisite to stop or at least reduce the terrorist attacks. In this regard the surrounding world has reason to take an active part....  Everyone had much to gain when Russian relieved itself from oppression and opened up. That the world around at that time, when the situation was in the balance, chose to keep a low profile on certain issues and prioritize the normalization of the country and its integration into the West was easy to understand. But it is not so today.”


TURKEY:  "The Side Effects Of Terror”


Sami Kohen noted in the mass appeal Milliyet (9/8): “The North Ossetia disaster is big enough to shake up both Russian domestic and international politics.  The Russians voiced their strong reaction against the terrorists, yet the Russian incompetence in dealing with the problem has also put the Putin administration on the spot.  People are upset at those Russian officials who either showed a very weak performance or lied to them.  Even Putin himself has been subjected to harsh criticism.… This is the most serious crisis Putin has faced as President.  He might try to be ‘tougher’ from now to restore his weakening popularity, or he might try to silence his opponents.  Based on his most recent remarks, the latter course seems more likely.… The incident will also have an effect on Russian foreign policy. Putin is trying to gain Western support on the Ossetia issue by making a linkage to international terrorism.  Some leaders, including President Bush, have already lined up next to Russia.  However, some political circles of Europe and some in the U.S. press are treating this issue with greater caution.  The Dutch Foreign Minister, for instance, struck a suspicious tone, which drew an angry reaction from Putin, who blamed the Europeans for applying double standards. Putin seems bound to go through a very tough period, both internally and internationally.”


"How Content You Are As A Muslim?"


Cuneyt Ulsever observed in the mass appeal Hurriyet (9/4): “Let’s look at the recent performance of Muslims worldwide:  Children were treated as enemies in North Ossetia; terrorists crashed two planes in Russia and killed nearly 100 passengers; three Turkish Muslims in Iraq were murdered for nothing but trying to earn a living; another Turkish Muslim businessman has been kidnapped; three journalists from France, which stood against the American occupation, were kidnapped; ongoing bombings in Iraq continue to kill more Iraqis than American soldiers; another sabotage against the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline has been reported; Hamas killed innocent people in Israel despite its claim that Israel is the one killing innocents.  Even this recent compilation shows that regardless of how right their cause may be, Muslims have been producing nothing beyond treachery and death.  99.9 percent of Muslims worldwide have nothing to do with this, of course, but by now it no longer matters.  The word Muslim is being identified with treason, not even with terrorism.  A fly is almost invisible, but is always enough to spoil the soup.  Muslims should never forget this fact.”





SAUDI ARABIA: “The Lesson From A Tragic Event”


Daily columnist Mahmoud Rimawi reflected in semi-official, influential Arabic Al-Rai (9/7):  “The tragedy to which the hostage-taking situation in the south of Russia ended regrettably shows that many mistakes are being made in the handling of the phenomenon of terrorism, in the sense that force, and excessive force at that, is being resorted to, which in turn threatens the lives of innocent people on a massive scale....  Instead of being sensitive to criticisms, it would be better for the Russian authorities to admit that they made serious mistakes, going beyond that to the need to find a political solution to the Chechens issue, which is an issue being used by some extremists to perpetrate abhorring actions….  In all circumstances, the requirement is to solve problems of a nationalistic and historical nature, rather than resorting to short-term solutions that only lead to more problems.”


The Crime Of Killing Children”


Columnist Bassam Umoush, an Islamist, wrote in an op-ed for semi-official, influential Arabic daily Al-Rai (9/7):  “The crime of the Beslan school is completely rejected by the Islamic Sharia and all others, and is only acceptable by the rule of the jungle, the Nazis, the Zionists or warlords.  Those who commit such acts have nothing to do with Jihad, because the battles of Jihad are clear and honorable.  We are the first to denounce the principle that the end justifies the means.  Those who killed the children in that school are the kidnappers and, with them, the Kremlin that proves its failure in handling crises, thus leading to the death of hundreds of victims of a crooked policy.”


"International Alliance Against Terrorism"


Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (9/6):  "The bloody end of the Beslan crisis was a horrible human tragedy and has stunned the whole world. The world was outraged against those who used such excessive brutality. This disaster demands that the international community take a determined stand against terrorism, similar to the worldwide sympathy for the victims. These deviant groups will keep breeding more killers unless the international community takes strong action against them to root out their bloody delusions."





AUSTRALIA:  "Russia’s Politics Of Terror"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald editorialized (9/7):  "Mr. Putin signaled a sweeping security overhaul which will consolidate his central government's power and override Russia's fledgling civil liberties.  And Mr. Putin's traumatized citizenry will likely applaud him for it.  Liberal democracy has largely failed to fulfill the high hopes which accompanied the extraordinary, peaceful dissolution of the Soviet empire....  The grim wave of terrorist attacks across Russia over the past week is, at least in part, a crisis of Mr. Putin's making.  As a rising political star, he gravely miscalculated when he tried to use a quick, crushing invasion of separatist Chechnya to enhance his image as strongman firmly in control.  The overwhelming human tragedy at Beslan confirms what ordinary Russians have long felt:  everyday life in their new Russia is increasingly uncertain, and unsafe.  The abhorrent brutality of the terrorists will only harden Russians against the Chechen cause....  Mr. Putin's hard line will fail, however, if he is merely exploiting the shock of Beslan to consolidate his own political authority and to divert attention away from Russia's rising social and economic tensions.  Unfortunately, liberal democracy may prove the hapless scapegoat.”


JAPAN:  "Rule of Northern Caucasus to Determine Fate of Putin"


Liberal Asahi's Moscow correspondent observed(9/8): "President Putin has maintained a hard-line stance against Chechnya out of concern that terrorist acts by Chechen separatists could increase tension between ethnic, tribal and religious groups across the northern Caucasus.  Political instability threatens to spread to neighboring Georgia, where local separatists are stepping up independence efforts in the Abkhazia region, and fuel Islamic fundamentalism in other central Asian nations.  The ongoing confusion in Russia's 'backyard' risks jeopardizing President Putin's security and energy policies by triggering a 'Balkanization' of the Black Sea region."


CHINA:  "Russia In A Fury:  Terrorists Go Insane, Miserable Fate Falls On Little Children"


Lv Yansong wrote in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (9/6):  “The uniqueness of the Russian hostage incident was that it was the latest in a series of terror attacks in Russia over the last ten days....  This series of terror attacks proves that the War on Terror is very severe in Russia.  Experts think that Russia is facing the most serious terror threat in the world.  The Putin administration is also facing an unprecedented challenge.  The Russian government’s stance on the issue has gained unanimous support from the international community....  Even the U.S., which never recognized Chechen militants as terrorists, is standing by Russia’s side this time.  Recently, ‘learn from Israel’ has become the hottest topic in the Russian media.  A Russian official points out that the serious damage caused by the hostage incident has caused Russia to move ahead its ‘Israelization’ plan for the War on Terror.  It is said that Putin’s first task is overall reform of Russia’s security system.”


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Beslan A Chance To Study Deeper Reforms"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post observed (9/7):  "An equally alarming possibility is that the authorities were caught entirely off guard by the incident, despite evidence the attack was long-planned and well co-ordinated.  How could dozens of heavily armed fighters have arrived in the small town undetected?  The militants were terrorists determined to inflict harm and no excuses can be made for them.  However, the siege, which started only hours after a Moscow subway suicide bombing and a week after two Russian planes were hijacked by similar groups, underscores the vulnerability created by intelligence failings.  The failings extend to Chechnya itself.  A big Russian military presence maintained since 1999 has not been able to root out extremist leaders, while a Moscow-backed local government enjoys little legitimacy.  Mr. Putin's hardline approach there may even be stiffened in response to the recent carnage, but that will bring no guarantee of peace and could even push the rebels into closer alliance with Islamic jihad groups.  A more productive path would see Russia engage with Chechnya's moderate leaders, with the support of international bodies such as NATO and the UN--even as it tackles the intelligence shortcomings that made the Beslan disaster possible."


"The Counter-Terrorism Situation In Russia Is Grim"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (9/5):  "Chechen militants know very well that their political demands will never be accepted.  Russia will not change its Chechen policy due to the hostage situation, nor will the Russian army withdraw from Chechnya.  The major objective of the school siege is to repeat the Moscow Opera House hostage in 2002.  They hope to force Russia to use force and tell the world that the Putin government does not cherish the lives of hostages so as to insult Putin....  Russian President Putin recently reiterated that the Russian government's determination in safeguarding national unity and countering terrorist activities.  The Chechen terrorists have become one of the targets of the global anti-terrorist combat.  At the moment, Russia is not only fighting a war on terrorism in Chechnya but in larger areas with all sorts of terrorists including the al-Qaida group.  In order to win the war, Russia must step up its cooperation with different countries.  Otherwise, not only Russia will suffer, but also other countries will not have peace."


INDONESIA:  "Hostage Crisis In Beslan Turns Into A Human Tragedy"


Leading independent Kompas declared (9/6):  "Through television, the world saw an act of cruelty by the Chechen guerrilla fighters....  Apparently, the violent approach that the Putin government took is not always effective to curb and end rebel movements, especially because the guerrilla fighters resorted to much more desperate means, such as suicide bombing....  On the other hand, rejecting the demands of the Chechen separatists would also lead to more flare-ups and terrorist threats.  Some argue that the terrorist threats could be avoided by fulfilling the demand for separation.  But there is no guarantee that the establishment of a Chechen state would not be followed by other regions.  Indeed, the Chechen question poses a very troubling issue, a dilemma, to Russia.”


“The Cursed Violence”


Independent Koran Tempo held (9/6): “The terrorist actions in Russia did represent a crime against humanity.  It was very hard to understand that the group that claimed to be Chechen freedom fighters could have taken such a brutal tactic to pursue its cause.  Indeed, the tragedy would not only make them lose sympathy from the international community, because it would overshadow all the human rights abuses of the Russian forces in Chehnya.  Support from the Muslim world would also fade further away because even in a jihad, physical war, a Muslim is not allowed to hurt unarmed people, let alone children.”


“Brutality In Beslan”


Islamic oriented Pelita (9/7) commented: “One could possibly blame the Russian forces for recklessly conducting liberation operations which led to a cross fire with the hostage takers and caused many casualties.  But it was such an act of brutality by the terrorists that it must be cursed.  It was hard to understand that the terrorists could have become so desperate to the extent that they shot children and teachers.  It was such a barbaric crime against humanity and one that also demonstrated that terrorist do no select targets.  It was indeed hard to understand that the Chechen fighters could have resorted to such cruel and brutal means.…  Therefore, we must not only condemn it but also curse the terrorists who used children as live shields to pursue their cause.”


NEW ZEALAND:  "Rebels Take Terror To A New Low"


The leading center-left New Zealand Herald commented (9/4):  "To all intents, world leaders held nothing back as they condemned the taking of children as hostages in southern Russia....  None can now feel confident they are immune to the terrible decisions associated with terrorism....  The hostage-taking in North Ossetia is, of course, a new low, even for the scourge that is terrorism. For the first time, children have been deliberately targeted. It begs the question:  where will it stop?  In fact, it marks an end for the Chechen rebels.  Any chance of attracting international backing for an independent Chechnya evaporated at School No. 1 in Breslan.  Just as support for the Palestinian cause evaporated when Black September overstepped the bounds of humanity at the 1972 Munich Olympics.  Once, it was possible to feel sympathy for the Chechens.  Historically, the region has resisted Russian rule, and its push for independence was prompted purely by nationalism.  Equally, Russia's reasons for denying that right were hardly compelling.  Important oil pipelines cross the region, and Moscow fears the unsettling impact of an independent Chechnya on other Muslim-majority areas.  However, the Chechen rebels have systematically undermined their own case.  Increasingly, they have espoused Muslim fundamentalism.  This, and the presence of foreign Muslim fighters, has enabled Russia to present the conflict as part of the international terrorist threat spearheaded by al-Qaida.  Now, despicably, the rebels have stooped to involving children in their desperate campaign.  On any count, this is a new low--for humanity and for their cause."


PHILIPPINES:  "Massacre Of The Innocents"


The independent Manila Times said (9/6):  "The carnage in Beslan in southern Russia has stripped away the world's last vestige of innocence.  Children have become a fair game for fanatics who have embraced terrorism to further their cause....  The hostage-takers in Beslan have achieved what they set out to do--create a stage on which they could perform their dark, bloody tragedy.  In a way, they won a political victory over the vastly superior enemy: Moscow....  And they did it by butchering school children.  There is no justification for the massacre of the innocents.  Let us not lose sight of that....  It will take a while for the image of Beslan to recede from the collective consciousness.  Perhaps we should not let them recede.  Perhaps we should let the grief, the anger, the revulsion linger on, a constant, painful reminder that such barbarism should not be allowed to happen again."


SINGAPORE:  "Sad Day For Russia" 


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (9/7):  "There is no doubt that the Beslan school siege ended in almost the worst way imaginable....  Russia must do far better in responding to terror, not least because the terrorist masterminds responsible for the Beslan atrocity are likely to be heartened by the way in which the crisis turned out.  They have attacked a school--a simple but profoundly recognizable symbol of a normal society--with impunity, they have killed large numbers of children and adults, and they have sown terror in the hearts of the wider Russian population.  They have scored a major psychological point against the Russian state.  However, it is important as well to recognize where the terrorists have failed.  The horrible casualties have caused widespread revulsion in Russia and other countries and have set back the terrorists' political goal: independence for Chechnya through force of arms.  Their inability to wrench major concessions out of the Kremlin has underscored, as well, the reality of President Vladimir Putin's tough line on terrorism.  The need for this toughness cannot be overstated.  Terrorists are emboldened when they see governments losing nerve....  Putin has shown that he will not be cowed.  For this, he is to be commended.  The challenge, then, for Moscow is to hold firm to its line against terror while shoring up its security....  Putin has promised a thorough overhaul of Russia's law and order and intelligence organizations to ensure that the atrocity is not repeated.  He will be held to his word.  Without a doubt, Russia's 9/11 has arrived."


SOUTH KOREA:  "A Tragedy Driven by Despair And Recklessness"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun asserted (9/6):  “Behind the tragic hostage crisis lie the hardship and despair of the Chechen people, given that the Russian government has been suppressing the independence movement in the tiny Republic....  Russian President Putin, in a recent speech to the Russian public, made clear his intent to deal more strongly with terrorist attacks, calling a recent series of attacks international terrorism.  However, this attitude by Mr. Putin will clearly make the situation worse. Treating the Chechen independence movement as part of international terrorism is tantamount to attempting to gloss over the problem by taking advantage of the U.S.’ war on terror.  The only way to resolve the Chechen crisis would be for Russia to admit the reality as it is and to leave open the possibility for negotiations with the Chechen people.”


"Lessons From Hostage Tragedy In Russia"


Hong Wan-seok, professor of international politics at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, observed in the independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (9/7): “The 9/3 tragedy is certainly sounding an alarm bell to the world: Despite strong military forces, massive human resources and formidable military equipment, Russia, one of the world’s most powerful countries, was devastated by a mere dozen or so terrorists.  What the 9/11 terror attacks and this tragedy signal is that the world is not free from war with these new enemies and that it is not easy to eradicate them.  In this regard, the argument that those terror attacks against the U.S. and Russia are the natural consequences of the superpowers’ imperialistic ambitions is losing its persuasiveness.”




INDIA:  "The Beslan Horror"


An editorial in  Secudnerabad-based left-of-center English daily Deccan Chronicle (9/7): "Even as Beslan is burying its dead, now estimated to exceed 360 in number, a majority of them children, a new reality has emerged from that city's horrendous experience with which the international community must contend if the world is to be saved from similar tragedies in the future. That reality has two aspects. The first is that terrorism, as the UN Security Council rightly pointed out, is now 'one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.'  The second is that counter-terrorism strategies devised by individual nations which are victims of the menace are inadequate to contain it and that a global anti-terrorism alliance has become an imperative. Both written and unwritten bilateral and multi-lateral compacts do exist to fight global terrorism, some of them under UN auspices.... The Beslan experience highlights the extension by Chechen separatists of their operational areas beyond the Chechen borders and well into Russia's entire North Caucasian region, prompting Russian President Putin to declare that Belsan represented 'direct aggression by international terrorism against all of Russia, to all our people.'... However, the responsibility for creating an anti-terrorist global pact and investing it with a structural framework, power and resources obviously rests with the international community and its leaders who need to plan more imaginative measures in order to eliminate what Putin describes as weaknesses in counter-terrorism strategies which are exploited by terrorists the world over. It is here that new initiatives inspired by the UN seem called for."


"The End Of Innocence"


An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer stated (9/6): "The bloody outcome of the hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia, has united not only Russia but the entire free world in grief.  But solidarity in suffering does not suffice when the victims of terrorist butchery turn out, to be small children.... With Beslan, Chechen rebels crossed a line beyond: When children are not merely caught in cross fires, when they are coldly and consciously made to go as lambs to slaughter, it is an outrage against humanity. The cowardly perpetrators of the carnage have to be smoked out of their holes and exterminated.... It is no ghoulish coincidence Chechen 'separatism' has a Kashmiri cousin. Both secessionist 'movements' stand hijacked by foreign elements.... Nor is it an accidnet that, yoked to the mother craft of radical Islam, the terrorist assault in Beslan shoudl have achieved new heights in diabolism. Though Putin's iron will to crush insurgency has never been doubted, Russia's anti-terror campaign appears reactive rather than proactive, hitting out only after the tragic event. The combat requires teeth in terms of boosted intelligence, hot pursuits, use of overwhelming force-and eternal vigilance. But, first, it demands a sense of urgency.... With the Al Qaeda as its tutelary spirit, Chechen militancy has undergone jihadi mutation...the world must stand by it as solidly as for post-9/11 America.... Beslan's children teach the world a big lesson: Only one standard can be applied to the kind of beasts who brutalized them."


"Beslan Lessons"


An editorial in the centrist Hindu judged (9/6):  "The three day school hostage drama in Russia came to a heart-rending end on Friday... The calamity has revealed the ugliest face of fundamentalist terrorism. The Chechnya-linked terrorists deliberately targeted innocent small children.... The terrorists demonstrated they had no compunction in detonating the bombs that killed the children in the end. The crisis climaxed a bloody week of apparently coordinated terror attacks in Russia. It began with the simultaneous bombing of two airliners in which 90 people died. Then came the suicide bomb blast in Moscow that took 11 lives and injured more than 50 people. That 10 of the 32 hostage-takers killed by Russian forces in Beslan were reportedly of foreign origin appears to provide fresh proof of the nexus between Chechen rebels and international terrorist networks. Russian investigators claim they have found evidence that the school raid was financed by an Al-Qaeda operative, Abu Omar al-Saif, who has been active in Chechnya for some time now.... President Putin has highlighted the truth that international terrorism has unleashed an 'all-out war' against Russia.... The hope is that the world will draw from the Russian tragedy the appropriate lesson: that international terrorists, outrageously appropriating the banner of Islam, have come a long way in forming a united front against civilized humankind.  It is high time western countries stopped differentiating between 'bad' and 'good' terrorists--between those who target the United States and its allies on the one hand and those who target Chechnya, Jammu & Kashmir, Xinjiang, and so forth--and close ranks in fighting the terrorist menace."


THAILAND:  “Lessons From A Russian School”


The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (9/7): “President George W. Bush of the United States was right the first time.  It is not possible to ‘win’ the war on terrorism, and Mr. Bush should not have backtracked from this statement in the face of election campaign rhetoric.  A spate of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Russia, culminating in the murderous attack on a school, has demonstrated that terrorists have neither limits to their destructiveness nor intentions to conclude their campaign.”




TANZANIA:  "Violence Will Never Eliminate ‘Terrorism’"


In the Kiswahili independent, but pro-Islam weekly tabloid Nasaha, Maalim Bassaleh opined (9/8): “This was an evil and barbaric act committed by alleged Chechen terrorists.... Whose heart would have remained indifferent at the sight of the many dead bodies, innocent lives that had been extinguished? If the people who committed these murders did so in the name of Islam then they are very wrong. Islam has nothing to do with indiscriminate blood shedding. No Muslim would rejoice at such savage acts. All those who respect the right of every human being to live should vehemently condemn these brutal and evil attacks. Many world leaders have condemned these murders.... But condemnations alone will not eradicate terrorism! If the world wants to stamp out terrorism, efforts must be made to identify its causes. Only when the causes are fully addressed, will the war against terrorism be won. In the case of Chechnya, the question must be asked as to why Russia has refused to recognize the country’s independence? There are two major possible reasons. Firstly because of the oil wealth that is in Chechnya, and secondly because the people of that country are predominantly Muslim. Russia does not want to lose the oil and it does not want an Islamic state on its borders. There are some who blame the Chechen fighters for holding the children as hostages. On the surface, this might appear to be brutal, but why are Russian soldiers not blamed for killing old people, women and children in Chechnya? Are Russian children worth more than Chechen ones? Why should Chechen militants who are fighting for their self-determination be regarded as terrorists when they kill [Russian] children, but Russian troops who kill Chechen children are justified to do so?  Violence is not the means to end terrorism. Dialogue and compromise on both sides concerned is the right way. The proof is there for all to see. Since President Bush declared his so called ‘war on terrorism,’ have we seen a decrease or an increase in terrorist attacks? Since American forces invaded Iraq, has blood shedding reduced or increased in that country? Everyone can see for themselves.”


"Stamp Out Terrorism"


The Kiswahili independent, but anti-government Majira carried an editorial commentary stating (9/7): “If there was any horrifying and tragic news that went round the world last week, it must have been the killing of more than 300 people and wounding of 500 more, with 260 still unaccounted for, in Beslani, Russia. These savage terrorist murders of innocent people cannot be tolerated. As President Benjamin Mkapa said in his message of condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is difficult to believe that these horrible acts took place. We join President Mkapa in his call for the world to work together in combating terrorism wherever it may be found, considering the fact that Tanzania was a victim in 1998.  We also join other peace loving people the world allover in condemning this act of terrorism and in extending our sympathies to all the families that lost their loved ones in this tragedy. We call upon the international community to intensify the fight against international terrorism.”




CANADA:  "Putin Reverts To Old And Evil Habits"


The conservative The Gazette editorialized (9/8): "Newspapers around the world covered the [Beslan school] story the same way, but only Izvestia's [editor] Raf Shakirov was forced out, apparently because the paper had dared to criticize Russia's President Vladimir Putin for his handling of the crisis.... Putin, the former KGB man, has more than once shown a clear willingness to use totalitarian methods. In modern Russia, just as in the Soviet era, there are too few checks and balances....  A people without access to the truth cannot decide what steps to take next. Russians are no longer content to be told to think something - 'It's international terrorism' - that they know, despite Putin, is not the whole truth. Russians should be able to learn, from free and unbiased sources, who the hostage-takers were and what their goals were; how many people died and how; how the crisis ended; whether the Russian special forces are up to the job of combating terrorism, especially in such fraught circumstances as the hostage-taking of children; what steps the Putin government plans next in its battle with Chechnya and Chechen terrorists. These are all legitimate questions. In any truly democratic country, the media and the population would be screaming these questions from the rooftops and demanding instant answers. The government would find itself facing intense, relentless criticism. This is as it should be. This is how a democracy and a free press work. Instead, Putin is wasting everyone's time trying to silence criticism.  Fortunately, his effort might already be a losing cause. Even Russian state television, which last week had characteristically played down the numbers involved in the hostage-taking, by the weekend was conceding that the government had a duty to keep the public better informed. Shakirov, the fired Izvestia editor, said he had published the photos to show that 'this was a war.' It is. And, as so often, the first casualty is the freedom to print the truth."


"The Bungling Kremlin: First Chechnya, Now Beslan"


Columnist Marcus Gee observed in the leading Globe and Mail (9/8): "First came the sorrow and the sympathy. Now come the questions. Both within Russia and abroad, people are beginning to ask how the hostage-taking in Beslan could have gone so wrong. Why did the Russian government lie to its public about the number of hostages? How did the standoff at the school turn so quickly into a pitched battle? Even more important, how has the Kremlin managed to turn the separatist movement in Chechnya into a terrorist threat that imperils every Russian?... Whoever the terrorists were, the Russian government's response was marked from the beginning by ham-handedness, secrecy and brutality.... It is always dangerous to advise governments under fire from terrorists to look to the root causes. That is what critics of the U.S. did after 9/11, implying that the Americans were to blame for the deaths of their citizens. It would be equally wrong to blame the Kremlin for the deaths in Beslan. The main responsibility lies with the brutes who seized innocent children. But as the days go by, it is clearer and clearer that Moscow bungled the crisis, just as it has mishandled the Chechen uprising. It must bear some responsibility, too."


"Putin's War On Media"


The liberal Toronto Star opined (9/8): "The Chechen-linked terrorists who killed nearly 500 people in recent brutal attacks at a Russian school, on two aircraft and at a Moscow subway were smart, motivated, well-trained and well-armed. Tragically, better so than Russia's security forces. They also appear to hope to destabilize Russia by igniting a civil war across the troubled North Caucasus. And Russians fear they were aided by corrupt officials.  At every level - political, military and social - these attacks pose challenges for President Vladimir Putin, who came to office vowing to solve the 13-year Chechen secessionist crisis....  While Putin deserves sympathy dealing with monstrous crimes, Russia will not become stronger, or more terror-proof, by silencing journalism that questions official bungling or exposes corruption. The way forward lies in crafting a political solution in Chechnya that marginalizes the savage child killers and ends a futile war, and in fighting the corruption that lets terrorists bribe their way across the country to hit the capital, airports or schools. Russia has real foes. The press is not one of them."


"The Barbarian Madness" 


Editorialist Jean-Marc Salvet commented in the centrist Le Soleil (9/4): "Madness is the loss of all points of reference, the disappearance of all moral and ethical codes. Barbarity is inhumanity. It is a plunge into an endless precipice, a bottomless abyss of blood, of sadness and of dread. The city of Beslan in North Ossetia will be forever marked by it. By seizing a school, by taking hundreds of children, their parents and teachers hostage, the terrorists affiliated with the Chechen cause were already committing not only a cowardly and inhuman act, but they were showing that barbarity - motivated by madness or despair - could be without limit....  Fanatical extremists, willing to go to then end and having lost all notion of right and wrong, had, as of Wednesday, crossed a new line. Their action was aimed first and foremost, knowingly and in all conscience, at children; young girls and young boys. That is why we must insist on the cowardice and the barbarity.... Russian authorities will quickly have to launch an independent inquiry into these events. The Moscow government has already been too secretive in this affair.... The situation in Chechnya is like gangrene, eating away at the Caucasus and, beyond, at all of Russia.... But did the assailants who took innocent victims hostage believe for a single moment that they would serve the Chechen cause by targeting the students in a school? The Chechen leaders, who distanced themselves from the hostage taking in its early hours, understood that it would not. Those who covered the soil of Beslan with the cadavers of children and adults are not combatants. They are barbarians, blinded by hate and having lost all moral sense. This tragedy only worsens already fiery interdenominational and interethnic relations in the entire Caucasus. It plunges the entire world in a terrible dread."


ARGENTINA:  "Weakness"


Claudio Mario Aliscioni, leading Clarin international columnist, held (9/6):  "'We show weakness and weak people are beaten,' said Putin regarding the Beslan hostage tragedy.... The phrase marks a strategy and a perception of the direction of global affairs. First, it shows that a large part of global power - Bush and Putin himself -- insists on defending the idea that force will defeat force. Certainly, this idea would prove right if it weren't that empirically, it's obvious that force wasn't able to solve a single problem since 9/11." 


"Putin's Image, Damaged by the Tragic Ending of the Hostage Crisis"


Julio Alganaraz, leading Clarin Rome-based correspondent, noted (9/5): "President Putin is criticized by international public opinion due to his very tough and implacable policy against the Muslim secessionists in Chechnya that privileges the use of force to suppress the rebellion without any flexibility aimed at seeking alternatives for a negotiated solution. The humanitarian catastrophe of Beslan, last Friday, showed that the tough option only fuels the ferocity of Ultra-Islamic terrorism in the small republics of the southern Caucasus..... The Russian people support this repression style at any cost, and this is why many experts believe that, immediately, Putin won't change his strategy with Chechnya and that his power of 'modern czar' isn't jeopardized. But criticism inside and outside Russia as a consequence of the way he solved the Beslan crisis, is growing, and has begun to erode his image."   


BRAZIL:  "Putin's War"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo (9/7) editorialized: "The Russian government is making even more intransigent and implacable the repression against Chechen separatist rebels.  By speaking about an 'international terrorism' attack against Russia, mentioning al-Qaida, and urging tougher [anti-terrorism] legislation, Putin is trying to reduce local participation in the Chechen question to insert it in the war on terror being waged by the U.S.... As a result, terrorism is following its sinister script of sowing hate and creating an environment of war in which military actions by nations hit by the phenomenon are enlarged and prospects of political negotiation, reduced.... Other world leaders facing rebellions will feel free to intensify the use of force against a problem that is increasingly assuming global proportions. Certainly there is no solution at sight for terrorism.... Even possibilities of action in the political front are limited, although they should not be neglected. If in the al-Qaida case the aspirations are diffuse and based on insane fanaticism, the same does not apply to Chechens and Palestinians. It is not a matter of yielding to blackmail, but rather one of not renouncing politics, because it is exactly this that the terrorism strategy wishes."  


"The Triumph Of Barbarism"


The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo (9/6) observed: "The Beslan tragedy is the triumph of barbarism because it confirmed that no nation - from pseudo-democratic Russia to ultra-democratic Spain - has managed to find an adequate response to at least restrain terrorism."


"Tragedy In Russia"


An editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (9/4) opined: "International terrorism has climbed to a higher level of savagery, if that was still possible. There is no doubt that the Chechen rebels and their supporters are responsible for the tragedy in Beslan, but that must not serve as a pretext not to criticize President Vladimir Putin's anti-terrorism policy. Russia's record in dealing with hostage crises is disastrous.... The images of bloodstained children desperately running were the sinister climax of a terrible week when the terrorist rage attacked worldwide." 


"The Putin Style"


Center-right O Globo (9/4):  “The tragic outcome of the hostage Beslan has once again exposed the risks of Putin’s style.... The fear of looking weak may have shortened the Kremlin authorities’ burning fuse even further.  Incapable of dealing with situations in which dialogue is essential, the 2002 Moscow tragedy was repeated.... Russia maintains two extremely hostile traits from the Soviet era: the love of secrecy and the belief in solutions with force…. If it depended on Putin - who keeps almost all media gagged - the false, official version would be that Chechnya is pacified..... It is a fact that no society would be able to hide a crisis of the dimensions of the Chechnya war under the carpet.… The recent facts have demonstrated that Putin’s country continues to be violent and has lost the impulse of its march towards democracy.”


MEXICO: "Violence In Chechnya "


The lead editorial in the nationalist Universal stated (9/7): "The cost of inflexibility and intolerance is making it unbearable for Russia....  It's clear that the politics of repression, and of not negotiating with the Chechen rebels, does not discourage them; and each time they are more prepared to attack Russian interests in the deepest parts of their territory.  As is the case with other hostage-taking rebels, the answer from the armed forces and Putin's anti-terrorist forces has been as inefficient as it is brutal, and the cost in innocent lives has been monstrous and contemptible.  As Bush commented last Monday in an interview-even though he retracted his assertion later-you cannot win a war against terrorism, and confronting it aggressively, without paying attention to its historic and social causes, condemns those who try to an endless war against a tireless enemy with a thousand heads. This flash of lucidity from Bush should open the eyes of those who believe that one can destroy such a complex phenomenon as Islamic terrorism by force."


“Strength And Dialogue”


Peggy Marshall comments in the independent El Norte (9/9): "The images of the massacre of Russian children the first day of school shocked the collective conscience of the world due to its cruelty and dislike toward life.…  Nevertheless, as human beings capable of incredible advance and achievements, we have to try the road of dialogue and of ideas in order to search for solutions to the terror that is lived. But that road has to leave margin for strength, to defend our life and freedom. Strength and dialogue do not cross each other out.”


CHILE:  "The Dark Faces Of Global Terrorism"


Leading-circulation, independent daily La Tercera held (9/5):  "The war on terror, which this week punished Russia, is a comprehensive...clash of 'global ideas'.  Although it is true that the 9/11 attacks opened a new era, one can find Cold War elements in this war on terror.  During the decades of East-West confrontation most conflicts resulted from an ideological struggle while in the era symbolically inaugurated by the New York and Washington strikes something similar happened with respect to the components of civilization.... Unlike Huntington’s suggestion, terrorists mistakenly believe they are participating in some kind of an apocalyptic final combat....  How can we overcome this?  Maybe a...multidimensional and global strategy like what the U.S. Senate's 9/11 Commission concluded in its final report.  In short, not only a plan focused on a frontal armed fight.... This requires that Washington, which leads this war, combine foreign policy elements such as diplomacy or cooperation to overcome conditions of great misery. In fact, it requires greater emphasis on the advantages of multilateral action.... In many cases, each terrorist is a reflection of marginal realities and unsolved historic conflicts that must be resolved.


"Bloody Caucasus"


Libardo Buitrago reflected in financial daily Diario Financiero (9/6):  "Terrorism has struck again in a barbaric way.... The Russian government is certain there is evidence of an al-Qaida connection behind the attacks.  Because of it and after the bloody Beslan event, the U.S. stands next to President Putin. Once again, terrorism has left its deep scar."


"The Face Of Horror"


An editorial in government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion (9/6):  "The deaths of the children in the Beslan School should become a calling for rationality, not revenge. As has been sufficiently proven, the dynamics of reprisal lead nowhere but toward Hell. Respect for human rights comes first, and then the rest."


GUATEMALA: "Fight Fire With Fire: Chechnyans Have No Other Resource"


Influential El Periodico published a column by Gustavo Berganza stating (9/7): “Even when I cannot justify the death of hundreds of innocent people, I believe that the Russians are harvesting in these days, the fruit of over 100 years of humiliation, abuses, murdering and indiscriminate repression that has been placed on the Chechens. The region has the disadvantage of being vital in the geopolitical interests of Russia, China and the U.S.  It is a necessary spot for the oil pipelines that lead to the Caspian Sea....  For that reason the Russians don’t have the luxury of letting it go like they have with ancient sovereign republics of the Caucasians."


"Terrorism Does Not Rest"


The financial Siglo Veintiuno editorialized (9/5):  “If this ethnic-political conflict is seen as a Russian internal affair, it has also demonstrated the link between separatist Chechnyan groups with the international terrorists al-Qaida. The international cooperation against terrorism is crucial, now more than ever, to fight against an enemy that has no precise geological location; it moves from one place to another using the most unsuspecting medium and is prepared, in the name of supposed legitimate causes, to commit such atrocities. "



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September 10, 2004 BESLAN TRAGEDY: 'RUSSIA'S 9/11'

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