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    MEET TERRORISTS HALFWAY TO RESCUE HOSTAGES, CALLS RUSSIAN MAJORITY

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    MOSCOW, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Yuri Levada Analytical Centre yesterday announced returns of a Russian opinion probe on the Beslan tragedy. A majority of respondents are sure concessions would have been made to terrorists to rescue their hostages, says the Novye Izvestia, influential Moscow-based daily.

    The Beslan act was rooted in the Chechen warfare, say 39% of respondents. 27% put the blame on international terrorism, and 12% on the scheming West.

    As for terrorists' goals, 45% said the hostage-takers were out to intimidate the Russian top into U-turning Chechen policies.

    Why was the heinous act possible, ran another question. 52% pointed out police and secret service graft for the main reason, while 21% think such acts as that leave no opportunity to nip them in the bud. 63% say North Caucasian developments are entirely out of official control. 31% are of a contrasting opinion.

    It was President Vladimir Putin's duty to address the nation as soon as the school was seized, offer all available information, and clarify the federal top's stances on the nightmarish matter, say 39% of respondents. The toll of lives would be much smaller if the President had been making talks with the terrorists, say another 42%. Concessions to terrorists were a must, say 56%, while 37% think whatever concessions will cause more attacks.

    A mere 4% think hostage rescue was a success. 30% describe the commando operation as satisfactory, and 61% come down on it. 19% think President Putin ought to have gone to Beslan and led the school storm. 57% blame storm casualties on terrorists, and 37% on inefficient secret services.

    Russia has to reinstate death penalty if it is to eradicate terrorism, say 58% of respondents. 33% demand a ban on Chechen residence in other parts of Russia. A mere 7% are for internationally monitored Chechen independence.

    Officials are withdrawing true information about the Beslan tragedy, say 78%. 76% are sure some of the terrorists have escaped.

    The respondents are extremely sceptical about the Federal Security Service, or FSB, as it has offered a reward of 300 million roubles, roughly US$10 million, for the prospective seizure of warlords Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov. Money is no help here, say 55%. 60% are not sure secret services are able to provide informers' safety, while 44% don't think the money will be paid at all.

    The probe, of September 10 into 13, concerned 1,600 residents of 128 settlements in 46 Russian regions.

    The Beslan hostage rescue operation was an even bigger failure than the Nord-Ost, a heinous terror act in Moscow, October 2002, when a full house and cast were taken hostage during a sensational musical at a theatre in Dubrovka Street, says Yuri Levada, top-notch sociologist. Thus, the Nord-Ost tragedy brought President Putin's public rating 5% up, and the Beslan 2% down.

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