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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 13:01 GMT
Russian press berates Western media
Russian women cries outside theatre
Russia mourns theatre tragedy victims
Russia's press is by turns indignant and puzzled at western media reactions to the Moscow hostage drama.

Komsomolskaya Pravda is particularly indignant at the US media's response to the tragedy.

It says the Washington Post and the New York Times were at pains to play down any comparison with September 11.

"We wept sincerely with America" on September 11 but US journalists "did nothing but say that what had happened was a blow to Putin, one that he deserved".

Young girl weeps
Youngsters wonder what life holds

"It was very hard to find a quote in a US newspaper expressing sympathy, support or solidarity," laments Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Solidarity, however, was in abundance in a letter from French President Jacques Chirac to Mr Putin. The letter is printed in full in the leading daily Izvestiya, which says it was precisely Russia's response to September 11 that made such sentiments possible.

"We told the West that from now on Russia was an ally," it says. "At the same time, however, we could really believe that the West for its part had begun to treat us like an ally."

"Only now can we believe it," declares Izvestiya.

Danish connection

Russia reserves its greatest indignation for the Danes.

Denmark is hosting a meeting of the World Congress of Chechens in Copenhagen. President Putin has responded by cancelling a mid-November visit to Denmark.

Izvestiya remarks that Russia is "puzzled to say the least" at Danish claims that there are no constitutional grounds for cancelling the congress.

Vanishing politicians

And while many newspapers take issue with the apparent over-eagerness of some politicians to turn up at the scene of the drama, one was noticeably absent.

The popular daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets says the current head of administration in Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, "vanished" when the possibility of him being exchanged for a number of hostages was touted.

Russia now has its own September 11


It admits, however, that it would be unfair to condemn someone "for a reluctance to die".

Russia in mourning

Izvestiya strikes a sombre note with an article datelined: "29 October 2002. Russia. A day of mourning".

"This edition of Izvestiya is their requiem," the article says, "We bow our heads in memory of those who died in the act of terrorism in Moscow."

Elsewhere Izvestiya notes that "Russia now has its own September 11, the tragedy of 23-26 October" complete with a graphic image of a hero fit to rank alongside the New York firefighters.

"The symbol of the day is the special service operative," the daily says, "carrying the frail body of a rescued woman out of a building that has been mined with explosives".

October lessons

Izvestiya believes there are lessons to be learnt. It calls for stronger democracy, a public or parliamentary inquiry and an end to the assumption that the public is not sufficiently mature to be kept properly informed.

If the state cannot trust its "unarmed public, it will be left face to face with the terrorists while all those who do not bear arms - i.e. the vast majority - will be the hostages".

Moskovskiy Komsomolets believes the time for talks is over. It ponders President Vladimir Putin's comment that Russia "will respond with measures commensurate to the threats".

There's only one solution - stop fighting

School child

Experts the newspaper consulted weren't certain but thought "this might mean the pre-emptive use of weapons of mass destruction".

In other words, troops in Chechnya will now "have the chance to use military hardware and weaponry previously regarded as unsuitable for local conflicts at home and intended only for warfare on a global scale".

'Stop fighting'

An Izvestiya reporter visits a Moscow school, which has representatives of 18 different ethnic groups amongst the pupils.

She finds that there are only girls in class. Why? The boys "are constantly being stopped on the streets and their documents checked".

The girls describe how suspicion of "people from the Caucasus" affects them everyday: "You go onto the metro, nobody says anything but you feel like you're the centre of attention... They look at us as if it's our fault."

They go on to wonder what adult life will be like and state bluntly: "There's only one solution - stop fighting."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

26 Oct 02 | Media reports
24 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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