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Child hostages A.Rozovskaya, O.Savtsov, and N.Zabolotny tell about the events
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, 05 2003
Child hostages from 'Nord-Ost' fell in love with Greece and the Greeks


Ten child actors from the now world-famous musical 'Nord-Ost' returned in January from a weeklong trip through Greece. Literally all of ancient
Hellas met those who were hostages in the theatrical center in Moscow last October.

On the invitation of the Greek government, as well as the Greek Tourism Organization and the Russian embassy in
Athens, came Oleg Savtsov, Sasha Rozovskaya, Nikita Zabolotny, Misha Filippov, Lyosha Chavayev, Vitaly Rozenvasser, Roma Shmakov, Slava Romanov, Dima Yendaltsev, and Lyosha Shalnov. Allwere from to 15years ofage.

Little by little the journalists unwound the former hostages.

Sasha Rozovskaya:

We were having practice on the third floor of the theatrical center on Dubrovka at the same time the show was going on. Wewere sitting and listening to music when some man walked in. Hewas armed. TheChechen spoke and Iheard the words whose terrible meaning did not come to me until much later: What beautiful children! They took us down to the concert hall. Theshow had been stopped and the audience was standing in the aisles holding their hands over theirheads.

Oleg Savtsov:
When the Chechens came running into the building on Dubrovka, Iwas very frightened for my mother. Theywere sitting below in the makeup room, waiting for me to get done with practice. Thebandits had not gotten to them mama locked the door. Shewas fortunate, because three hours later the OMON (Russian SWAT-type police ed.) released her. ButI stayed with the others and worried about my family. Italked with papa on a cell phone Arseny gave me. Arseny and Kristina were also in our children's troupe, but they died. Theywere 13. Istill don't know what happened tothem.

One time Iwas very scared. Theytold us that Primakov was to come to the negotiations. Forsome reason the Chechens got very excited by this news, and ran about. Someof them took up fighting positions right between the rows in the auditorium. TheChechens tied themselves to each other with wires. Weunderstood that they were now getting ready to blow everyone up. Apparently they thought that the special forces would come for them when Primakov arrived. Nikita Zabolotny, Mishka Filippov, and Ilay down on the floor and waited for them to blow usup.

One day they brought an old man into the auditorium, all covered in blood. TheChechens said that he was looking for his son Roma. Theyordered all the children to stand up who had this name. Ourlittle 'Romka' Shmakov got up, but the Chechens said a different last name. Thewhole auditorium watched the terrorists put their gun barrels to the temples of the captured man. Theybeat him so hard on the head that blood gushed out. Later they led him away somewhere. Someone said that the Chechens shot him. OurRomka was so frightened that he started to hiccup. Ithought then that childhood is over. Thiswas no cinema. Inreal life everything is much worse. ButI try not to remember this, though sometimes my throat is tight when they show the assault on television.

Nikita Zabolotny:
We talked to the adult actors using gestures. Theygave us moral support, and we them. People on the balcony fed us by tossing us candy. Wewere not bored and we entertained each other as best we could. Someof us, the little ones, they cried. Whenthe assault began we all had one feeling, get it over with and let us go home. Wewere unbelievably tired. Wewaited and hoped for the assault. There was a lot that was frightening. Forexample, Isaw men with the backs of their heads all bloody. Later they told me that the most fanatical (gunmen) had beaten them with rifle butts. Forsome reason our balletmeister, a frail little woman, did not fall asleep when they released the gas. Theassault began and she raised her head and knew that it was time to run outside. Shetried to wake everyone up, but they only snored back at her. Thenshe tried to climb down a rope by one hand, in her other she had her bag with her passport.

Someone told me that she knocked me about, but apparently Ihad too much gas, got stupid and went wandering off. Atthe exit an OMON man said: Hey fellow, go and sit in the van. Iwent and sat in the nearest minivan. Intwenty minutes a policeman with an assault rifle looked inside and had a fright he took me for a terrorist. Itturned out that Igot into the minivan that the Chechens arrived in on the night they captured the building.

Slava Romanov:
When they took over the building at Dubrovka Iwas in the makeup room. Weclosed and barricaded the door. OMONmen soon rescued us. Theycut through the grate on the window and Icrawled out. TheChechens never noticed us. There was no shooting. Whenthey brought us to the headquarters after our rescue, they calmed us down and said that all the children managed to escape. Athome on the television Iheard that this was not true, and Iknew that my friends were still hostages. Iwas terribly worried about the guys, and the whole time Iwanted to run in there and help them. After all, 'Nord-Ost' was our second home and all the actors were like family.

Sasha Rozovskaya revealed this to a woman correspondent from a Greek radio station:
Had there been no deaths then we would have survived this must easier. Butwe cannot forget.

The children were accompanied in
Greece by special correspondents Gennady CHARODEEV from 'Izvestiya' and Igor KARAVAEV of 'Interfax'.


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