For Whom the Bell Tolls


On the tenth anniversary of the Nord-Ost hostage crisis that left 130 dead, Garry Kasparov reflects on the continued impunity of government officials who fail to prevent terrorist attacks in Russia.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
By Garry Kasparov
October 26, 2012

I was still playing chess professionally ten years ago, and at the end of October I led our country’s team for the last time to the Chess Olympiad in the Slovakian city of Bled. The news of the hostage crisis at the Dubrovka Theater shocked all of the participants, but most of all, of course, those of us who were born in the Soviet Union, and for whom the word “Chechnya” was more than just an unfamiliar geographical term. I remember well the heated discussions of this tragic situation in the halls of the hospital, when, looking one another in the eye, people would express the same hope: “The government won’t decide to use force. They won’t let hundreds of people die.”

When I retired from chess in 2005, I began active social and political work, and visited many regions throughout Russia. At one meeting, a man fought back tears as he told me how he and his family watched the television report of the Nord-Ost tragedy unfolding somewhere very far away, far enough not to have any effect on their happy, settled life. At the time, never in his worst nightmares did it occur to him that on September 1, 2004, his daughter would go to Beslan School No. 1 and never come home…

Our country does not consider the deaths of its own citizens to be a serious crime worth punishing guilty officials for. And yet, having quietly awarded the organizers of the storming of the Dubrovka, the Putin regime went even further by issuing an indefinite indulgence to carry out any of his criminal orders.

Lacking organized pushback from society, this soft authoritarian regime has spent the last decade gradually acquiring the sinister traits of a fascist dictatorship. Now, even halfway intelligent people have no doubts left that it is only through energetic solidarity in action that we can prevent the development of the darkest possible scenario, one that carries a mortal threat for not only the country itself, but for each of us as well.

So I will not ask you, for whom the bell tolls…

Translation by Kasparov.com.


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