Russian Tragedy according to Putin

&to=http://' target=_blank>Russian President Vladimir Putin arranged a special press conference for foreign journalists with long experience in Russia yesterday, and once again discussed &to=' target=_blank>the hostage-taking in Beslan, North Ossetia.

Once again, Mr. Putin made it clear that there wouldn’t be any talks with Chechen rebels. According to him, people who call for talks with Chechen leaders have no conscience.

"Why don’t you meet &to=' target=_blank>Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he will leave you in peace? Why don’t you do that?" the president told The Guardian (UK). "If western governments find it possible to set some limitations in their dealings with these bastards, why should we talk to people who are child killers?"

"Correct me if I’m wrong, but ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher told me once that a man who comes out into the street to kill other people must himself be killed," Mr. Putin stressed. "No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child killers," informs Gateway to Russia.

According to Reuters the European Union has long advocated a political solution to the 10-year separatist war in Chechnya which has left the tiny province in tatters.

The southern town of Beslan buried more of the 335 people - half of them children - killed during a chaotic operation to free them from captors demanding independence for Chechnya.

The ruins of School No. 1, where more than 1,000 hostages were held for 53 hours, have become a memorial where processions stop and lay flowers on their way to a new cemetery for victims.

Critics say Putin failed to keep a pledge he made on coming to power in 2000 to end a separatist revolt in Chechnya. They also say troops bungled Friday's operation to storm the school.

In the past two weeks Chechen rebels have also been blamed for the downing of two airliners, killing 90 people, and a suicide bombing which killed 10 at a Moscow metro station.

The crisis has had ramifications beyond Russia's borders, leading NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to discuss the issue at a meeting on Tuesday of NATO states and Russia.

Chechnya has always been a problem in cooperation between Russia and Western countries, many of which question Moscow's rights record as it fights separatism.

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