Russia to implement tougher control

Russia, on the first of two days of national mourning for the 335 killed in last week's &to= - 38k - 4 Sep 2004' target=_blank>Beslan school siege, buried the dead as the search continued for 260 people that are missing after the country's worst terrorist atrocity.

The funerals of 170 people were held in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, state-run Rossiya television reported. Yesterday, relatives buried the first 18 dead at a new cemetery founded for those killed in the siege. &to=' target=_blank>President Vladimir Putin, in an address to the nation on Saturday, promised to overhaul the country's corruption-ridden security forces to fight terrorism.

"The most powerful feeling in public opinion is focused on the state's inability to defend its citizens," Moscow-based investment bank United Financial Group said in a daily report. "The political result may be the loss of Putin's aura of invulnerability," reports Bloomberg.

According to Reuters his promise of a safer Russia looking hollow after a week of disasters, President Vladimir Putin may now put his traumatised country under even tighter control, political analysts say.

But such is his popularity among Russian voters - and his grip on the mechanisms of state power - that few expect his position to be badly damaged by the latest wave of violence blamed on Chechen separatists, culminating in the hostage crisis when over 330 people were killed.

Few see Putin softening the hardline policy that has been at the core of his approach to the Chechen rebellion - which he said at the weekend had turned into an international war of terror against Russia.

"It is clear that the Kremlin will use the situation to undertake even tougher controls," said Boris Makarenko, political analyst for the Centre of Political Technologies.

"I cannot rule out his coming out with something like (U.S. President George W.) Bush's Patriot Act," he added. informs that in the aftermath of the hostage crisis, the identity of the attackers remains uncertain.

Shortly after the stand-off reached its bloody finale on Friday, at least two Russian officials said several of the hostage-takers were Arabs.

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