State of Siege

The terror of daily life in Beslan

Assyat's older friend and neighbor—also named Assyat—had just returned from the Chechen village of Samashki.

Assyat the elder told her friends how she saw a neighbor there who was kidnapped in the night by masked soldiers. It was a familiar story: He was beaten, starved, and interrogated for a week; then he was discarded when it became clear he had no information. The man was found on the side of the road between two villages, unconscious, naked, and bound by tape and chains. His story was later corroborated by a human rights worker.

Assyat the elder said this violence against civilians only escalates the problems, that the militants will continue to recruit followers and launch attacks like Beslan, and there will be no peace.

"I understand why you want to go back," she said to Assyat the younger. "But if we all go back, they will close the borders of Chechnya to journalists, to everyone. And no one will know what happens to us in there. Then they will be able to do anything they want to us."

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