RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY BLAMES JOINT SECURITY AGENCIES FOR BESLAN TRAGEDY

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MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - Yesterday, the Russian Defense Ministry published shocking documents exposing the security agencies' lack of professionalism in Beslan. This came at a time when investigators from the military prosecutor's office, the FSB and a parliamentary commission are examining the reasons of the Beslan terrorist attack. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, prosecutors and parliamentarians have the most questions for the Russian Defense Ministry, in particular, whether the use of tanks, flame-throwers and grenade launchers by the ministry's divisions was legal and risk-free for peaceful civilians. However, the Defense Ministry has apparently decided to come up with an answer on its own and published it in its official edition, Krasnaya Zvezda.

In an interview with the paper, Lieutenant General Viktor Sobolev, the commander of the 58th army stationed in Vladikavkaz, said that FSB commanders had asked for tanks and APCs. In other words, the Defense Ministry has made it clear that it was not responsible for the decision, blaming the FSB commander who led the operation. It is still unclear who he was.

Moreover, Sobolev explained why the FSB commandos were late in taking action after the explosions in the school. The problem was that they had left for the Sputnik firing range in Vladikavkaz to drill joint efforts for a possible storm. According to the commander, FSB commandos arrived at the school late and "launched the storm in three directions almost immediately after they stopped marching." Defense and Interior Ministry units fought the bandits in the delay.

An analysis of this information prompts the conclusion that the Defense Ministry is trying to exonerate itself of blame. According to a high-level official in the Defense Ministry, the Krasnaya Zvezda article did not appear accidentally.

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