Russia's Knowledge Day (День Знаний) was set up by a government decree in 1984 as a holiday. This is a day when the school year traditionally starts in Russia. It has special significance for the incoming class of first graders who come to school for the first time. Customarily, at 8 am all school kids with different flowers bouquets for their teachers lined up by grades at the school yard to start their first day of school with the First Bell (Первый Звонок): a first grade girl lifted on the shoulders of a 11th grade male student ends the opening ceremony by ringing the bell, as they parade around the school yard.
Since 2004 it is also a day when Russia and the rest of the world remember victims of the deadly hostage-crisis that took place in a school in the town of Beslan, Russia's republic of North Ossetia.
Listen to the reportage of First Russian TV channel and watch some video clips and interviews in response to what happened at Beslan, as events were still taking place.
At approximately 8 am local time on Wednesday, September 1, 2004, a group of men and women armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers seized school No.1. There more than a thousand people, of which 700 were children, were kept without water or food and in constant fear. On September 2 a government source revealed the number of hostages for the first time since the crisis, putting the number at 354. The siege ended only on the third day, when Russian security stormed the building, using tanks and rockets. At the end 334 hostages were killed, 186 were children with many more unaccounted and missing. Word comes that the hostage-takers demanded that the Russian Federation ends the Second Chechen War and Russia makes an immediate withdrawal from Chechnya. Later, Putin declared that the Beslan tragedy had nothing to do with the Chechen crisis, so the media stopped covering the topic.