I haven’t been able to find a translation of the speech that Vladimir Putin gave on Russian television yesterday, but the quotes I’ve seen suggest that Beslan will, indeed, be the Russian Sept. 11:
What happened was a terrorist act that was inhuman and unprecedented in its cruelty. It is a challenge not to the president, the parliament and the government but a challenge to all of Russia, to all of our people. It is an attack on our nation.
We showed weakness and weak people are beaten.
We are obliged to create a much more effective security system and to demand action from our law enforcement organs that would be adequate to the level and scale of the new threats
Of course, Putin being a Russian (not to mention a former KGB man), he attributed the attack in part to the collapse of the Soviet Union, sinister foreign influences, and corruption in Russian law enforcement organizations. (It is not clear whether he suggested that such corruption was directly linked to the Beslan attack; I’m not aware of any reason why it could be.)
It will be interesting to see what measures Putin will now pursue to combat the terrorists. Russia is not a place where the mild police powers conferred by the Patriot Act would be considered controversial.
In the photo below, a young boy examines a classroom in the school where the hostages were held. Click to enlarge.
UPDATE: A translation of Putin’s speech is here. An additional quote:
Terrorists think that they are stronger, that they will be able to intimidate us, to paralyze our will, to erode our society. It seems that we have a choice: to resist or to cave in and agree with their claims; to give up and allow them to destroy and to take Russia apart, in hope that eventually they would leave us alone.
As president, as the head of the Russian state, as a man who gave an oath to protect the country and its integrity, as a citizen of Russia, I am convinced that in fact we do not have any choice, because as soon as we allow ourselves to be blackmailed and to panic, we shall immerse millions of people in a series of bloody conflicts, similar to Karabakh, Trans-Dnestria and other well known tragedies.
We cannot but see the evident: we are dealing not with separate acts of intimidation, not with individual forays of terrorists. We are dealing with the direct intervention of international terror against Russia, with total and full-scale war, which again and again is taking away the lives of our compatriots.