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Russians Observe Day of Mourning for Suicide Bombing Victims - 2003-07-08


Russians are observing a day of mourning for the 13 people killed in Saturday's twin suicide bombings at a Moscow rock concert. The flag flew over the Kremlin at half-staff, and hundreds of mourners gathered at a makeshift memorial outside the concert site to pay their respects. Mourners and passers-by shared a moment or two of silence amid the hustle and bustle of Moscow, as they stood to look upon the hundreds of flowers, candles, and poems left in memory of those who died in the weekend bombing.

Nestled among the flowers was a broken guitar and an empty bottle of vodka.

Most of the victims were young people who had come out to enjoy some music on one of the Russian capital's first warm, sunny days of the year. Among them was a middle-aged woman's son. He was one of the lucky ones, she said, who made it inside and never even knew what happened.

She says she is still fearful and that Moscow is a scary city for anyone with children. Nowhere is safe, she said, and she urged President Vladimir Putin to take the most severe action against terrorism. Another woman standing nearby interjected to say she disagreed. She says it is talking, not toughness, that President Putin needs to consider.

She added that her son lives in Israel and that she knows first-hand the fear terrorism brings. She said she would not like to see that way of life appear in Moscow, but said that is what she fears, if the government does not consider peace talks with Chechen separatists.

The woman added that it is only by chance she is alive to speak about peace at all. She says she came upon the gate where the first explosion occurred just moments after the first of the two bombers detonated her suicide belt.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts. But Russian police suspect Chechen rebels organized the attacks carried out by the female bombers, one of whom has been identified by police as a Chechen.

Another young girl with whom VOA spoke said she did not hold the women responsible for the violence, but rather the Chechen terrorists who hired them for the job.

The first funerals for the victims are scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Despite the sorrow and fear of the circumstance, this man visiting Moscow from Russia's Volga region, says he has faith that the nation will make it through this challenge.

I think the Chechen terrorists want to destroy the Russian spirit. But I believe in Russia, he said, and we will survive despite of any enemy.

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