Žanna Cirichova

* 1967

  • “We were sitting one next to each other. While we sat at one place in the beginning, in a short while we were elsewhere. Why? Because more people were coming in or because they tried to sit down on the floor and sit one next to each other but over time became sprawled out. We ended up in the center of the hall; it was so crammed there that it was unbearable… There was no air and we longed for water. Breathing in there was really unbearable.”

  • “Why did it all happen? There is something very wrong with our society, this is an aching spot. I don’t know if anyone knows why this had happened. It is unnatural, terrible, simply barbaric, awful… I don’t know, why.”

  • “Of course, the terrorists are responsible. A terrorist is just a terrorist. But also those who made it possible for them to enter the school are guilty. I also blame those who didn’t save us – who were supposed to, but didn’t. When it came down to it, I have to say they betrayed us. Whoever was doing the rescue operation didn’t rescue my children or myself. Not even the other ones, I didn’t see anyone being rescued. I would like to ask the government to… I really want them to tell the truth about this terrorist attack and for everyone to learn this truth.”

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    Beslan, 01.06.2014

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I blame those who were supposed to save us but didn’t

Žanna Cirichova
Žanna Cirichova
photo: archiv post bellum

Žanna Cirichova was born in 1967 in Beslan. She comes from a traditional Ossetian family which observed religious traditions. She graduated from a pedagogy high school and then studied elementary school teaching at a university. She worked in a kindergarten and got married in 1992. She has two daughters. On 1 September 2004 she got up in the morning, baked pierogi for her daughters Zalina and Liza, dressed them up nicely and accompanied them on their way to school. The teacher welcomed them in the classroom after which everybody went out to the schoolyard to take part in the ceremonial commencement of the schoolyear. The music was playing out loud. “We were standing there - the ceremony hadn’t even begun - when suddenly I saw masked men armed with assault rifles running in from the Kominterna street, shooting in the direction of the crowd.” They rushed all the people present in the yard into a gym. After a while, Žanna was able to find her older daughter Zalina. She claims that the “Black Widows” who confiscated all of the hostages’ cellphones looked as if in a movie. She recalls the moment when Ruslan Aušev entered the school: “One could see that he was overwhelmed by the horrible stench. By that time they wouldn’t let people use the toilet. People would pee into bottles and pass them on so that other people could drink or make compresses. We also made some. He was surprised about how many people were there.” She regained consciousness following the explosion of the third day. Both of her daughters were lying next to her. She and Zalina got up, attempting to get to safety. They grabbed Liza’s hand, wanting her to come along, not comprehending that she wasn’t alive anymore. The attackers started shouting at the survivors to get out. Meanwhile, they kept firing from their guns. Žanna and Zalina laid down on the floor. She told her daughter not to move an inch, even if they were about to kick them to find out whether they were alive. They were afraid that the survivors would be brought out and shot. This lasted for twenty minutes. As special units got in, they escaped through the canteen window. In 2007, Žanna gave birth to another daughter, Alina. She is still not certain about the motifs of the siege. The terrorists told them that they were hired to do the job for money. As many others, she still hopes for an investigation and clarification regarding the September 2004 events.