The Committee of Beslan Mothers, CBM, has joined forces with North Ossetia’s main opposition movement to demand the resignation of President Alexander Dzasokhov.
The move came after the authorities took the decision – unprecedented in the North Caucasus – to block a peaceful demonstration called “Women Against Terror”, organised by the CBM, and scheduled for March 8 in the centre of Vladikavkaz.
Initially, the government reacted with a media campaign urging the public to stay away from the protest because of concerns over a possible attack by Islamic extremists. When this failed to dissuade the organisers, it moved to block the city’s main square to traffic and pedestrians.
Vladikavkaz resident Eduard Daurov, who had tried to take part in the protest, said, “Frightening people before a demonstration is also a terrorist act and it happens every day here. In this sense, terrorism comes from the authorities themselves.”
As a result of the official interference – which led to the cancellation of the demonstration – the influential CBM has now thrown its weight behind North Ossetia’s main opposition movement, United Ossetia, and its demands for the resignation of the president.
In turn, the government accuses the opposition of “destabilising the situation at a difficult time for the republic”.
The republic’s media – which is largely controlled by the authorities – singled out the CBM for its “political activity” and accused it of acting against Ossetian custom.
But one CBM member – former hostage Anneta Gadieva, whose nine-year-old daughter was killed in the Beslan siege – denied the allegations.
“Clearly the authorities feel guilty, which is why they are trying to create such a negative picture of us,” she said. “But there is nobody behind us – only the memories of our children.”
“The press in the republic is controlled by the president personally. Whole print runs of newspapers are withdrawn from circulation so people don’t read reporting which does not work in the president’s favour.”
Protesters cited a recent incident where an issue of the Vladikavkaz Screen newspaper was completely withdrawn and its copies pulped after it was found to contain an article critical of the president. The paper stopped publishing not long after.
Mothers of children killed during last year’s hostage crisis at a school in the southern Russian city of Beslan have demonstrated, demanding the resignation of the regional governor.
Several hundred people gathered in front of the regional administration building in Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia, where Beslan is located. They accused Governor Alexander Dzasokhov of inaction during the crisis.