Kremlin slams 'unacceptable' European court ruling on Beslan massacre

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Friends and relatives of victims killed in the 2004 Beslan school hostage massacre gather on March 3, 2005 in the remains of the school in North Ossetia for a minute's silence to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the tragedy

The Kremlin on Thursday slammed as "absolutely unacceptable" a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that there were "serious failings" in Russia's handling of the 2004 Beslan school siege.

"It is impossible for us to agree with this phrasing," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. "Such phrasing for a country that has suffered an attack is absolutely unacceptable."

The court said although Russian authorities had information that an attack was being planned on a school in North Ossetia, they failed to do enough to disrupt the plot and had not sufficiently protected the hostages.

Asked if Russia would fulfil the terms of the ruling over compensating the victims and their relatives, Peskov said that "all the necessary legal actions linked with this ruling will be undertaken."

The justice ministry said in a statement on Thursday that Russia would appeal against the ruling within the three month deadline. It said that a number of the court's conclusions were "not backed up."

The findings over the operation to rescue the hostages showed the court did not examine the tragic events "in sufficient detail," the ministry said.

It said the court did not understand "the full seriousness of the situation in Beslan after the seizing of the hostages" and the "risks of the process of carrying out a rescue operation by law enforcement authorities."

The court's findings over the use by Russian special forces of indiscriminate weapons while hostages were still in the building were "baseless," the ministry said.

The court ruled that Russia must pay compensation to 409 surviving hostages and relatives of the deceased.

A representative for the Mothers of Beslan group of victims' relatives, Aneta Gadiyeva, told TASS news agency that the amounts of compensation awarded were small.

"Some will receive 5,000 euros, some will receive 20,000 euros. Those are small sums for the compensation of moral damages," said Gadiyeva, who lost a daughter in the siege.

A lawyer for the victims, Sergei Knyazkin, told TASS that "we are not fully satisfied by the ECHR ruling," citing "very small amounts of compensation."