Who Protects Schools From Terrorists?

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In case you missed it, the government just wrapped up a monthlong nationwide anti-terrorism program with the slogan: "We won't allow the Beslan tragedy to be repeated!" The highlight of the program was a forum called "A Future Without Terrorism. No Future for Terrorism," which featured a fiery speech by Aslanbek Aslakhanov, who serves as President Vladimir Putin's adviser on the North Caucasus. Aslakhanov exposed the foot-dragging bureaucrats and saboteurs who are out of step in the war on terrorism. And he found them in the nation's schools. The schools were "not doing their part to help tackle the biggest challenge facing the state and society: counteracting terrorism," he said. Schools have yet to introduce special classes "devoted to fostering zero tolerance of the ideology of terrorism," he added.

There's another little problem, however -- providing security for our schools and kindergartens. In Orenburg, people decided to take matters into their own hands. Orenburg Deputy Mayor Lyudmila Marchenko told Itar-Tass that "over the course of a month, local residents, organizations, businesses and private firms deposited money into a special account." In the end, Orenburg raised 1.33 million rubles "to acquire additional equipment and to install alarm systems," Marchenko said.

Hang on. That means that Orenburg's schools currently have no alarm systems or "additional equipment," and it's unlikely that Orenburg is an exception. So where is all the money going that has been allocated in the federal budget for security, prevention and the war on terrorism?

In 2004, after the tragedy in Beslan, we were told that the 2005 federal budget would contain a record 3 billion rubles to fund these activities. And that didn't take spending on law enforcement into account. In 2006, funding for the federal anti-terror program alone will increase fivefold.

So why isn't a major city like Orenburg seeing any of this money? There's no way to find out. This section of the budget is secret. The Audit Chamber recently completed its investigation of public funds allocated for the war on terrorism, and judging by its silence you'd have to assume the money was spent properly -- to conduct monthlong nationwide programs and adjust the school curriculum, apparently. Let's hope that's all it was spent on.

Olga Romanova, an anchorwoman for Ren-TV, is a columnist for Vedomosti, where this comment first appeared.