When he was once asked what was his most difficult time during his presidency, Russian president Vladimir Putin did not hesitate and said that it was the Beslan terrorist attack in 2004.
The First Day of September is usually a day of happiness and celebrations in Russia, as it is the first school day for many pupils all over the country, from Moscow to Vladivostok. However, on September 1st, happiness and celebrations turned into terror in a school in Beslan, a small town in the Russian Caucasus. As parents were taking their children to meet their teachers for the year, terrorists were crossing over into North Ossetia from the bordering region of Ingushetia. They stopped to beat a police officer and robbed him of his uniform and his car. With those, they continued towards Beslan and towards "Skola nomer odin" (school number one). There they started shooting their guns in the air and yelled at everyone present to get inside the school.
Although a few people managed to escape during the initial commotion, the terrorists succeeded in taking over 1000 people as hostages. What followed was a three-day siege, which ended in the death of over 300 people, half of which were children. The impact that this terrorist attack had on Russia and Russian society as a whole was devastating.