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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Sunday Sacriledge, Part II: Putin Crushes the Mothers of Beslan

The Moscow Times reports:

A court has ordered the Voice of Beslan, a group critical of the government's handling of the 2004 terrorist attack, to disband, and its activists started a hunger strike in protest Thursday.

"The decision was made by the authorities because our organization is fighting for the right to have a fair investigation of what happened in Beslan," group founder Ella Kesayeva said by telephone.

North Ossetia's Supreme Court ordered the Voice of Beslan to disband Wednesday, upholding a lower court's ruling that Kesayeva was not the group's leader. Vladikavkaz's Leninsky District Court ruled in August that Marina Melnikova, a former member of the group who filed a lawsuit claiming to be the leader, should replace Kesayeva.

Melnikova could not be reached for immediate comment.

The Voice of Beslan tried to get around the lower court's decision by changing its status from being a North Ossetian organization to a Russian organization. But the court refused to recognize the new group because it had not reregistered with the authorities. Kesayeva said the group had no intention of registering. "This would give the authorities the right to check into the group's activities," she said.

Kesayeva and three other Beslan mothers started the hunger strike and a picket outside the North Ossetian Supreme Court on Thursday. "We have decided to start a hunger strike to make our voices heard," Kesayeva said.

The Voice of Beslan was formed two years ago by relatives of the victims of the 2004 hostage taking, which ended with the death of more than 330 people, more than half of them children.

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