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The tragic events of 1-3 September 2004 in School №1 gave the little town of Beslan (The population of Beslan on I January, 2005, was 35 604 people.) instant prominence worldwide. The entire international community was shocked by the monstrous nature of this terrorist act and a large number of Russian and foreign organisations, institutions, NGOs, funds, private firms and individuals provided help to victims in the days, which immediately followed the ending of the school siege.
Many of them are still providing help to this day, although it is absolutely clear that a tragedy on this scale (The terrorist act at Beslan affected 1291 people from 650 families, numbering 384 surnames between them. There are about 2000 surnames in North Ossetia (1958 according to data collected by Z.D Gagloyeva), so the number of people bearing the same surname, on average, is 250 (the number of people in the Republic, 500 000, divided by 2000). That entails that the tragedy affected 384 x 250 = 96 000 people via family connection. On an emotional level the tragedy affected the North Ossetian diaspora as well as people living inside the Republic.) calls for enactment of a state aid programme for the victims, with assignment of a special funding item in the national budget and consistent monitoring of the rehabilitation process. As well as assurance of the professionalism of those who implement it. Otherwise there are bound to be further and prolonged traumas. This is confirmed by all the findings of the international psychotherapeutic community as regards "impact on the personality of various traumatic events". Such baleful consequences are bound to be magnified by the scale of the tragedy, which, though not without precedent in the short history of terrorism in the Russian Federation, clearly requires adequate response from state bodies at federal level. There needs to be a list of federal institutions and institutions in the Republic of North Ossetia responsible for provision of psychological, medical, material, legal sociological and informational help - not only to the immediate victims, but also to the people around them, who witnessed the horrifying ordeal of their neighbours, and whose experience of stress has often caused them to behave unfairly towards the victims themselves. Taking account of all these aspects is a matter for professionals. "Trauma victims often become an object of intense interest to those around them, and the interest is not directly related to the needs of the victims. They are idealised and consoled, but can just as easily be stigmatized and rejected".
The North Ossetian Centre for Social Research (affiliated with the Institute of Social and Political Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences) carried out research among inhabitants of Beslan in May-June 2005, taking all the surviving victims and an equal number of non-victims as its object. The aim was to ascertain "disfunctions in representation of the "I" and the surrounding world, leading to abnormalities on cognitive, emotional and behavioural levels" (intensity and level of positive or negative tension in perception of current socio-political issues). People were also questioned as to their assessment of the role of the media in the Beslan tragedy and its aftermath, and their assessment of the psychological help, which has been afforded. Further, a large group of questions was addressed to the victims alone, in order to gauge their assessment of efforts by organisations, which provided or are providing medical, material, legal and social help.
The main method used was a survey. The specially prepared questionnaire contained groups of questions for the two categories of respondents. The first category were immediate participants of the tragic events - hostages or members of their families. Every family, which was directly affected by the tragedy, was included in the survey and the number of respondents in this group was 680 (This figure cannot be treated as constant today, since some families have broken up. Therefore the number of survey respondents exceeds the number of victim families.).
The second category were inhabitants of Beslan who were not directly affected by the tragedy, i.e. neither they or their relatives were among the hostages. This control group of 680 people reflected typical demographic parameters (age and sex). The total sample thus consisted of 1360 people.
Formation of the sample reflected data of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, according to which there were 1373 surviving victims at Beslan, (former hostages or members of their immediate families). As stated above, those questions, which concerned specific help to the victims or members of their families, were addressed only to the "victim group".
In addition a survey concerning main themes of the questions was carried out among 23 experts (political scientists, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, state officials, journalists, and activists of socio-political organisations) and four focus groups of 12 participants (workers, specialists with higher technical education, specialists with higher humanities education, military personnel, policemen, state officials, higher education teachers, pensioners, unemployed).
During processing of the survey results the entire sample was grouped by sex, age, education and occupation, and frequency of various responses was assigned according to these groupings. This was done in order to make the results of maximum use in raising efficiency of help to Beslan.
The theme of the survey was key aspects in deformation of views of the world, other people, the "I" and society as a result of the trauma, as well as clarification of consequences for socio-cultural behaviour of participants and witnesses, from both subjective and objective viewpoints. As stated above, the latter objectives were achieved by surveying of the control group of witnesses and inhabitants of Beslan, and also based on views of the experts, focus groups and anonymous interviews. The entirety of questions were divided into two unequal blocks: those having general significance, concerning the socio-political situation, activity by the media, and psychological help; and those concerning assistance provided specifically to victims of the tragedy. Questions in the first block were posed to both groups and questions in the second block were posed only to the victim group.
The author would like to express deep gratitude and respect for the assistance, which he received in work on this project from S.S. Biragovaya, Zh.M. Gasiyeva, E.I. Kobakhidze, G.G. Pavlovets, A.V. Pechnikov, L.M. Khabayeva, A.A. Khugayeva, T.I. Tsidayeva, and F.B. Tsogoyeva.