Moscow school shooting : 'Russia is no different from the West'

  • 5 February 2014
Media captionThe BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports from outside the school

A shooting in a classroom leads to a debate over gun control, school security and how to prevent future tragedies. The story is all too familiar. The location, this time, is different.

A teenager allegedly walked into a Moscow high school with two of his father's legally owned rifles on Monday and killed two adults, wounded one, and held more than 20 of his classmates hostage for hours. He eventually surrendered to police, after his father entered the building and pleaded with him to end the standoff.

Mikhail Falaleyev and Irina Rybnikova in the Russian state-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta call it "a massacre in the style of US shootings".

Many Russians watched coverage of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and were thankful it wasn't happening in their country, say Vladimir Sedov and Svetlana Samodelova in Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

"We weighed the odds: there is nowhere you can get firearms from, people are generally good-natured, there is a guard in every school," they write. "Maybe we would avoid the danger. However, we did not… The numerous proposals of tougher control (over guns, teenagers, schools) voiced yesterday should not remain just words. Otherwise, we all might end up shooting each other."

School security "is a sham, window dressing and a bluff", writes Aleksandra Samarina in Nezavisimaya Gazeta:

It turns out that Russia is no different from the West, including the matter of school shootings... It was believed for a long time that Russia would be able to avoid the fate of developed countries where such shootings in school corridors happen regularly. Safety in Russia was attributed to the absence of the free circulation of handguns... [But] an unarmed guard in a school is nonsense.

Anastasiya Skiba in Moskovskiy Komsomolets contends that authorities should have seen warning signs.

"It turned out that this teenage criminal had been posting violent videos on social networking websites for a long time," she writes. "Why had law-enforcement agencies paid no attention to this teenager?"

All this reflects the misguided priorities of the Russian government, she continues:

Instead of preventing all kinds of aggression in children, authorities are getting worked up about schoolchildren with the 'wrong' sexual orientation... And they already have something to brag about: a ninth-grade schoolgirl was recently been punished in Bryansk Region because she openly called herself a lesbian... Who is more dangerous to society - a schoolboy with a gun who has shot his teacher and a police officer dead, or a schoolgirl who says she is a lesbian?

In 2004, more than 380 people, many children, were killed in a hostage standoff with Chechen separatists at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia. That was terrorism at its horrific worst. This time, the violence is allegedly the work of a misguided teenager.

It's the sort of tragic incident that it seems can happen just about anywhere.

(From information provided by BBC Monitoring.)

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