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Beslan’s School Number 1, where a terrorist attack killed 334 people on September 1, 2004. September 1, 2019

‘We'll get by somehow’ Following attacks on social media, Mothers of Beslan committee cancels fundraising efforts for terrorism victims

Source: Meduza
Beslan’s School Number 1, where a terrorist attack killed 334 people on September 1, 2004. September 1, 2019
Beslan’s School Number 1, where a terrorist attack killed 334 people on September 1, 2004. September 1, 2019
Yelena Afonina / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

The Mothers of Beslan committee has decided to cancel its planned fundraising efforts for those injured in the Beslan school siege 15 years ago. Aneta Gadieva, the vice chair of the committee, told The Caucasian Knot about the cancellation on September 9.

The journalist Olga Allenova had first announced the fundraiser on Facebook on September 6. Allenova, who is on the staff of Kommersant, published a book about the Beslan siege to mark its 15th anniversary.

Allenova wrote that she had persuaded the leaders of the Mothers of Beslan group to open a fundraising account for the attack’s victims. Allenova’s publisher, Individuum, had decided to direct all profits from the book’s sales to two organizations that were founded after the Beslan school attack: Voice of Beslan and Mothers of Beslan. However, the publisher found that only Voice of Beslan had an account for donations. According to Radio Liberty, Mothers of Beslan had previously directed all potential donors directly to individuals who needed help rather than accepting donations itself.

“I’ve known for a long time that there are a lot of people in Beslan who live under constant anxiety. They have post-traumatic syndrome, and they need professional help, but there isn’t any. After [YouTube journalist Yuri] Dud’s film [about the Beslan attack] came out, I realized that coordinated aid for the victims had to be arranged. A lot of people in this country would want to help, but they don’t know how. You can’t find donation information for all of the victims online. That’s why my colleagues and I convinced Mothers of Beslan that they have to open an account,” Allenova wrote. The journalist added that the committee’s members did not want to accept donations at first, and it took her two weeks to persuade them otherwise.

Nonetheless, by the evening of September 9, just a few days after the account opened, it was closed in response to criticism the mothers’ committee had received online. Zaur Farniev, a Kommersant correspondent based in North Ossetia, wrote that Instagram users had posted “curses, insults, and open abuse” in the comments for a post about the new account (Meduza was unable to find the original post). Olga Allenova said that Internet users accused Mothers of Beslan of “milking the government like a cow,” saying they could “never get enough.”

“If people don’t understand good initiatives… We can ignore them, but we’ve thought about it and decided that we’ll get by somehow. We’ll operate like we did before. As much as we can, we’ll draw attention to this problem, to these people who need help,” Mothers of Beslan Vice Chair Aneta Gadieva told The Caucasian Knot.

Gadieva said that about 20 survivors of the terrorist attack currently need financial help. “If we had a law that gave an official status to terrorist victims, this wouldn’t be such an urgent problem… Yes, without a doubt, the regional government has helped during these 15 years, but we always have to ask. We always have to approach them with outstretched hands. And when that question comes up, then, again, these mudslingers always start saying, ‘Oh, how much more do they need?’ Everyone should go through what we go through before they judge us. People need help, and in the current health care system, they can’t expect help from anywhere if there’s no special federal program,” Gadieva argued.

Several new documentaries about the Beslan siege were released to mark the 15th anniversary of the attack on September 1, 2019. A three-hour film by the YouTuber and journalist Yuri Dud called Beslan: Remember drew particularly extensive public attention. One of the women featured in the documentary, Marina Duchko, lost the ability to walk after suffering a lower back injury in the 2004 attack. Duchko said she receives a 13,000-ruble ($200) monthly pension from the government and earns extra money selling violets online. After she appeared in Dud’s documentary, Duchko’s Instagram following grew from 400 to 40,000, and her flowers sold out in a single day.

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