Courage Boys features stories to inspire and leave you feeling hopeful. Making a difference is not only possible, but something we’re all capable of accomplishing. These are the stories of ordinary people making the decision to be extraordinary with bravery, resilience and principle. This is Courage Boys.
1,100 people were inside a school in Beslan Russia, mostly kids. Their fathers had the school surrounded, aiming their hunting rifles into the windows. The dads were held back only by bombs attached to Chechen terrorists that were standing in the middle of their kids.
A thousand miles away in a Moscow airport, Anna pushed through the ticket line. She needed to get to Beslan fast. Aeroflot claimed the flight was full, but Ann knew that there was room. And she had a trump card. Her phone was watched closely by the Russian government. She was sure of it. She picked it up and called her editor at the paper.
"I need Maskhadov," she spoke loudly and clearly. "Get me Maskhadov." Maskhadov was a Chechen resistance fighter. She knew him from the days covering the Second Chechen War. Putin hated him.
She had a plan to broker a deal that just might save the kids. But she also knew that this would set off bells at the Kremlin and possibly get her on the plane.
It was worth a shot. And she was right. Within minutes, an executive from the airlines appeared and pulled her out of line. He put her on a shuttle to the plane.
In privacy, the shuttle driver leaned back to her, "The FSB told me to get you on this plane." The FSB is the new Russian version of the new Russian version of KGB. Putin's guys.
Less you think that the phone tap heard her plan to save the kids and was moved into action, you should have some background.
Putin hates the Chechens, but he hates Anna too. She was a Soviet diplomat's kid who grew up reading American newspapers, smuggled into the Soviet Union by her parents.
As an adult, she craved American-style free speech and journalism. When Putin became president of Russia, Anna decided to test the alleged freedoms of the new Russian system, and so she wrote a book that compared him to Stalin. It somehow or another wasn't published in Russian, but the world bought it.
When Anna bordered the plane, she sat across from three men and ordered tea. A little while after takeoff, her tea came. She drank it and then began sweating profusely, losing consciousness. When she awoke, she was in a hospital in Rostov, still hundreds of miles from Beslan.
"They tried to poison you," the nurse whispered in her ear. This was not the first attempt on her life. If only Anna would get on board with the government. Oh, if only she could once again live like a diplomat.
By the time Anna regained her strength, the school crisis was over. The state-friendly press reported that the fathers had opened fire and the terrorists had retaliated and then the military jumped in and saved them.
But Anna knew differently. It was Russian military action first. More than 300 dead. Most of them kids.
So with her throat still burning from the poison, Anna picked up her pen. She sent her story about Beslan to all of the world's major newspapers, and most of them published it. And at the end, she made a plea: We are hurling back into the Soviet abyss, she wrote. All we have left is the internet, where information is still freely available. For the rest, if you want to go on working as a journalist, it's total servitude to Putin. Otherwise, it could be death, the bullet, poison, or trial.
On October 7th, 2006, Putin's birthday, Anna was found dead in the elevator of her apartment building. She was shot in the head and chest four times. According to the Russian officials, the investigation is ongoing, but it's not so urgent.
So courage, boys. The truth may be scary, but never let the truth be silenced.