Anyone who thinks the American media is a tool of the government should read a bit about how the Russian state media operates.

The Russian government admitted Sunday that it lied to its people about the scale of the hostage crisis that ended with more than 300 children, parents and teachers dead in southern Russia, making an extraordinary admission through state television after days of withering criticism from citizens.

As the bereaved families of Beslan in southern Russia began to lay their loved ones to rest Sunday, the Kremlin-controlled Rossiya network aired gripping, gruesome footage it had withheld from the public for days and said government officials had deliberately deceived the world about the number of hostages inside School No. 1.

"At such moments," anchor Sergei Brilyov declared, "society needs the truth." ...

Sergei Markov, a political analyst with close ties to the Kremlin, said the deadly outcome of the school standoff had left Putin at a loss for how to respond beyond the former KGB colonel's instinct to strengthen police powers and centralize control over government institutions. "They don't know what to do," he said. "Vladimir Putin didn't explain in detail what will be happening."

Speaking before the Sunday-night broadcast of the state television news program "Vesti", Markov said it had been clear that the government had engaged in a clumsy cover-up. "Everybody understands they are lying," he said. "Everybody can do the math and know there were more than 1,000 people inside the school."

The Kremlin sought to distance Putin from the deceptions through Sunday's broadcast, in which the anchor chided "generals and the military and civilians" for failing to act "until the president gives them ideas what to do." Pavlovsky said Putin had given Russia's political system "a no-confidence vote" for its handling of the crisis.

Such statements could never be aired unless the Kremlin directly ordered them, according to political analysts here. Criticism of the president is never broadcast on state television, the continuing war in Chechnya is almost never mentioned and even mild questioning of government policy is not allowed without prior approval from the Kremlin.

"Nothing happens on Rossiya television without the permission of the Kremlin," said commentator Andrei Piontkovsky.

If you've got the heart and stomach for it, read the second page of the article and share the grief of the hundreds of families shattered by this most-recent barbarity of Islamic terror.



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