Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A different kind of heroism from Beslan

Babble on.

Many observers believe Russia is sliding backwards toward totalitarianism. They correctly point to Putin's consolidation of power, his elimination of political opponents, his intimidation and virtual gagging of the press, and his scaling back of democracy as indicators of a Russian regression. And they're right. Freedom is taking a beating in Russia today.

But out of the ashes of School No. 1 in Beslan comes hope that Russian freedom cannot be taken away as easily as it might have once been.

In today's Globe and Mail, we learn of the efforts of a small group of volunteers who are chronicling the Beslan story at www.beslan.ru for the world to see.

And the truth they are witnessing for us does not always match the official version.

"We know what's true and what is a lie. It happened to us, and they can't lie any more about what happened here," Mr. Asayev said, while strenuously insisting he believes the government agencies are doing all they can.

The teachers working with him, he says, simply have a better handle on matters since they know firsthand who was in the school and who wasn't. "Since the first day, I didn't have any questions about what happened here. I don't need some government official to tell me. I saw it."

Ordinary Russians have felt the power of speaking the truth. And whatever setbacks occur in that unfortunate nation, Russians will not give up that power easily once again.

Babble off.


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