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The forgotten victims of 'Russia's 9/11'

Those injured or who lost loved ones in a wave of Sept. 1999 bombings in Russia feel that they have been abandoned by the Russian public, media, and government.

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They are Russia's forgotten and abandoned victims of terror.

A small, forlorn-looking knot of people gathered on Moscow's Kashirskoye Shosse this morning, as they do every year at this time, to mark and mourn the anniversary of the wave of devastating apartment bombings that are widely referred to as "Russia's 9/11."

In September 1999, terrorists struck four times in three Russian cities, blowing up almost 300 people as they slept in their beds. The tragedies sowed panic across urban Russia, galvanized the nation, consolidated political forces behind a tough-talking new leader named Vladimir Putin, and were the primary reason given for a fresh Russian military invasion of the rebellious southern republic of Chechnya.

Though the 1999 bombings led to vast upheaval and changed Russia fundamentally, not a single politician was on hand Tuesday to show solidarity with those who survived or lost loved ones in the 5 a.m., Sept. 13 blast on Kashirskoye Shosse, which killed 119 people and injured 200. No major Russian media covered their brief, tear-filled memorial service.

"We were abandoned and forgotten," says Sergei Kalinchenko, a businessman who lost his daughter when the eight-story building collapsed after a powerful bomb exploded in the basement. "We still have no clear answers as to how it happened, and probably we never will. It's as if our sorrow doesn't concern anyone at all."


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