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Reporters on the Job

October 1, 2004



Bold - but Cautious: The first things the Monitor's Scott Peterson noticed when he visited the ethnic Chechen family of Arsen Zolaev in Moscow - besides Arsen's broken nose, the result of a revenge attack against him - were the prevalent signs of children (page 4). Little Magomed, 13 months, battled gamely into and out of the interview on sturdy legs; a cot nested in a corner of the TV room; toys were scattered around; and Arsen's wife, Kameta, was pregnant.

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The family described their situation boldly. They had no problem attaching their names to their comments - strong words that Kameta, a journalist, has used in print before.

But there are limits to how far they would go - and the reason was to protect their young family. Often when ethnic Chechens go to the police with a problem, the family says, they are intimidated with such comments as, "Now we will know where you live. Aren't you worried about any consequences?"

Indeed, the family got no aid when they went to the police about Arsen's attack. There were witnesses, and the out-of-uniform cop even showed Arsen's friend his police identity card.

"But at the station, they were told that the father of the off-duty officer who attacked Arsen was a big deal, so even the regular policemen couldn't do anything," says Scott. "Because of that, and worried about the fate of his family, Arsen decided not to press charges."

Fewer in Spanish Pews: Correspondent Geoff Pingree says that most Spaniards he talks to refer to the Catholic Church in distant terms (page 7). "I wasn't here when everyone you ran into went to Mass," Geoff says, "but when I first started coming here many years ago, a lot more people went to Mass."

Now, he says, weddings are the biggest draw for churches. "Weddings are probably the most ritually attended Catholic services now," Jeff comments. The only exception he has seen in the past several years was on the night of March 11, after terrorists attacked trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800. "There's no question that when Spain wanted to have a national memorial event, it was going to be held at a church," Geoff says.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

• In the story "Italy debates the cost of freeing hostages," (Sept. 30) the name one of the two freed Italian hostages was misspelled. Her correct name is Simona Torretta.

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