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DriversA.Shaburko, S.Korobov tell about the events.
Written by ., ., ., ., ., .   
, 05 2002

Various articles from Komsomolskaya Pravda, November 5th, 2002

After the assault (Part 2)

A few questions about the important matter: how was the terror act even possible, and could the numerous deaths among the hostages at the musical 'Nord-Ost' have been avoided? Whywere buses loaded with hostages stuck in traffic jams?

Three drivers who were on duty for three days at the DK ('House of Culture' or theater) tell about the events.

Relief drivers Alexander Shaburko and Sergey Korobov are from bus park #13, and ended up at Dubrovka on Wednesday evening. Forthree days they used their LiAZ buses as barriers by the headquarters, and carried veterans from there to a neighboring hospital. Buton Saturday morning they carried hostages.

As soon as Igot to the theater, Alexander Shaburko recalls. Right away Iknew that there'd be a problem with traffic. There was a mess of police and special vehicles. Thehighway patrol was scarcely keeping the throughway clear. Wehad to stick our heads out the window and yell.

It got worse on Thursday when the buses started evacuating veterans from the hospital. Alot of old 'Ikarus' buses, which are not very nimble, were in the group.

We couldn't drive anywhere, though by that night they had gotten rid of some of them. Either way there were still too many, says the driver. Then there were other problems at the hospitals where we brought the veterans. Their entrances and lots were just not set up for buses. Noway to drive in or turn around.

For those buses that had left Dubrovka, the route back to their duty site was even more complicated.

We were stuck for an hour on Volgograd and Proletariat trying to get back, recounts Sergey Korobov. The embassy cars were a real bother. Thehighway cops didn't touch those black Mercedes and their flags, and they would park right in the middle of the road.

On Saturday at 6in the morning the drivers heard the first shots. It's started! The women auditors, who during the three days were in charge of the bus drivers, confirmed this.

At first they ran to all the vehicles. Theysaid to warm them up and form up right away, Sergey recalls.

They chased out the police officers that were heating themselves up inside the buses.

Thank God Ifilled up just before the assault. Forthree days the engine had been working non-stop they had used up their diesel. Noone got fuel on site. Youhad to go on your on to fill up. The ambulances were the first to rush over to the DK central entrance.

They told us that we'd follow the ambulances, but there were so many that we even had to pull back, recalls driver Igor Stepanov. Then they gave us the order. Itwasn't possible to drive right up to the porch where people were lying, so they sent us over to the side. Everyone was carrying people: special forces and fellows in yellow jackets, Ilater found out that they were rescue workers. Iwas almost the last one in the convoy. Whenpeople had been put into seats and aisle, a plainclothes cop ran over and said to follow the ambulances. Ialready knew the route, to the Sklifosovsky.

According to Igor, there was a hitch at 'Sklif'. Atfirst three buses stopped right at the doors where there were people with gurneys. Thedrivers opened the doors, but no one came to bring out the hostages there was not enough manpower. Thefirst order of business was unloading the ambulances, and then later it was the buses' turn. I had no idea who Ihad brought, says Igor, making a helpless gesture. They all lay there like they were dead. Noone moaned or moved. Ofcourse, I'd like to believe that I'd brought living people

Anna SELIVANOVA

Why relatives could not find the living or the dead

How medical clerks demonstrated astonishing callousness

They found Fyodor Khramtsov's identification on his body, but no one even told his family where he could be found.

Fyodor Khramtsov, a horn player for the 'Nord-Ost' orchestra, made his last phone call on Friday morning. OnSaturday morning representatives of the MVD(Russian interior ministry) and Moscow city hall came out to brief the hostages' relatives, and reported that the assault had gone perfectly: No deaths. Soonwe'll put out a list and take you all by bus to your loved ones in the hospitals. Her hopes raised, Fyodor's wife Valentina began to wait, but by evening she still had found out nothing about her husband's fate.

The first thing Idid was call the hot line, Valya recounts. For a long time Icouldn't get through. Finally a woman's voice at the other end of the line said in surprise: How did you get this number? Wait, and I'll find out. Yes. Thelists will be later, call back please.

The kids and Idecided to go to all the hospitals. Atthe information desk of municipal hospital #1 we heard: Come back in the morning, maybe the list will be more current.

We began to call other hospitals. Onlytwo, #15 and #7, answered normally, with some sympathy. Atthe 'Skif' (Sklifosovsky medical institute) they told us that we were bothering everyone with our calls.

Valentina was later told that someone had seen Fyodor in intensive care at hospital #13. Herethe real nightmare began.

At the information desk they told us again that he wasn't on the lists. Ifwe wished, we could come back to the hospital in the morning and talk with the administrator. OnSunday morning no one came to see us. Ofcourse, they weren't letting people in, either. Andso we stood there in the rain, tormented by the unknown. Bythe way, we met the husband of one of the hostages there, named Oleg. Hetold us that he was able to pass a cell phone to his loved one via a police guard. Andhe had to pay a thousand rubles (about$40) for this.

We contacted Oleg by phone, and he confirmed this fact. Hestated: The fact is, that after awhile they shut off the pay phone. Idon't know why. Andso Ihad to pay off the guard.

Khramtsov's sister Svetlana could not take it any longer and went searching in the morgues. Andthere she found him.

We stood freezing at the morgue for an hour, continues Khramtsova. They only let people in one at a time. Finally we got in. Itwas him. Really him. Theygave us a copy of the form, which indicated only: Victim of an act of terror. Cause of death unknown. Andthey returned his ID, his backstage pass to the musical. Canyou imagine, that all this time Fyodor had this document on him, and no one got around to calling us! Meanwhile at the morgue they told us that the body had been received from that very same hospital, #13. Theonly place they treated us nice was at the cemetery. Thegrave diggers there would not accept our money.

Julia SHALIMOVA.

BY THE WAY:

The press service of the Russian MVD, whose employees were answering the calls to the hot line, reported:

The decision to organize a hot line was made by representatives of the headquarters during the first hours after the capture (of the theater). Weresponded and, we believe, performed this assignment well. FromWednesday to Monday morning the telephone did not stop ringing for a minute. Whenit became clear that two phones were not able to cope with all who were turning to us, we put another two in service. Itis possible, certainly, that someone may have been unable to get through. But, after all, besides information about hostages, we had to provide immediate psychological assistance, we listened to so many tears and human tragedies during this time.

Why patients suffering from poisonings were put into trauma departments

Gennady (last name withheld by the editor), ambulance physician and anesthesiologist:

That morning we brought casualties to various hospitals, but practically everywhere the arrivals were sent to 'trauma' (the traumatic injury department). Trauma doctors are a special breed. Theyspecialize in extremities. Onecan only suspect how well symptomatic treatment was conducted during the first hours. Bythe way, many got ulcers from exhaustion. Butif the first group coming in had those special pieces of plastic that you can put in the mouth to prevent to tongue from blocking the airway, then in general the deaths would have been a lot less.

But what about the antidote?

An antidote, such as this, is injected before using strong-acting preparations. Itis used to prevent nausea and allergic effects. Howit works afterwards, for me, speaking frankly, is a mystery. ButI'll repeat again that the main percentage of lethal outcomes weren't from the gas, as much as from swallowed tongues (airway blockages).

What did you inject? Doyou know what you were treating for?

They didn't specifically tell us what drug was used at the DK, and we didn't inject any antidote that we didn't even have, but we used Naloxone. Bythe outward signs the poisoning was similar to an overdose with an opiate narcotic. Weonly learned later that it was fentanyl.

Was the use of Naloxone justified?

I think that it was in this situation.

Alexander KOTS

After the assault

A few questions about the important matter: how was the terror act even possible, and could the numerous deaths among the hostages at the musical 'Nord-Ost' have been avoided?

Could people have been saved if some inflatable hospital modules had been set up around the DK? Journalists phone medical establishments with these questions.

Why is it not surprising that everyone forgot that one mobile hospital was set up, a hospital from the All-Russian medical catastrophe center (VTsMK), 'Defense'. Itis an inflatable module, in which doctors have worked in Chechnya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan.

We set up an OR and a wound-dressing module, says VTsMK head physician Irina Nazarova. But it was to be used for wounded casualties, and cuts, but the victims were in a condition of narcotic sleep. Theyneeded to be immediately transported to intensive care for intubation and tests. There was no sense in keeping them in the module and then later taking them to the hospital. Thiswould only have wasted time. Ourdoctors gave injections of Naloxone. Wehave this in our medical sets, and this was completely correct.

VTsMK doctors received patients, injected them, and sent them to the war veteran's hospital. Butwhy not set up an MChS (emergency ministries) hospital? Wecontacted the emergency ministry with this question.

The mission of the rescuers was to evacuate, the press service reported to us. Our boys were to carry the casualties from the building, to carry them to the ambulances and buses.

It later became known that Yuri Luzhkov and MChS minister Sergey Shoigu had a conference call and discussed the question of setting up a hospital. Thenit was decided that it was not necessary, because there are hospitals nearby and the immediate assignment was to evacuate people to there. Anyintermediate stage would mean wasting time. Thatis how it seemed at the time.

Zinaida LOBONOVA.

How the terrorists in their vehicles got to Moscow

Through bribery: the chief of the Russian highway patrol, Vladimir Fedorov, is convinced of this

A meeting of directorates and headquarters from the MVD(Russian interior ministry) began right after the end of the operation at Dubrovka. Deputy interior minister and chief of the public security service (SOB) of the MVD, police colonel-general Alexander Chekalin and deputy chief of the SOB and head of the Russian highway patrol, lieutenant-general Vladimir Fedorov, held select meetings with all the nation's heads of the highway patrols. Thetalks turned out to be poignant.

The police generals were angered, in part, by the result of an operation carried out by their own 'moles'. Notlong before the terror act, an experimental bus with Georgian plates and bearded passengers with the outward appearance of residents of the Caucasus (for persuasiveness) was tracked along the Moscow to Tbilisi route. Andso, the custodians of the law with their striped staffs pulled the bus over 33(thirty-three!) times, but not once did they inspect it. Takea guess: why did they stop the bus, what did they want?

This is in the south. Howabout in the north? InKarelia (near Finland) an entire highway patrol unit for some reason patrols no highways (perhaps, there are not roads there?) Instead, it carries out forestry legislation. InSaint Petersburg two policemen in their off-duty time levied fines on drivers using fake highway patrol badges. Later it was not enough, and so they took a bum they knew and dressed him up in a pigeon-gray uniform so that that there would be three out loosening the drivers' purse strings. Outin Novgorod, of 1200arrests for drunk driving, only 200went to court. Therest, obviously, came to an agreement. Amicably. Inanswer to the angry roar of the generals as to what was being done to improve, reinforce, and increase efficiency, the Novgorod officer gave an astonishing answer: We wrote a song, have you heard it? Irecommend it: When Novgorodians on the Russia highway have a difficult service It is understood that this 'songwriter' was fired. Buthow many such servants are there in Russia?

After all, when the sun is beating down, the highway patrolmen are wearing out the soles of their shoes. Following the terror act, they rolled up their sleeves and went fishing: on October 26th a KamAZ truck was detained carrying weapons, on the 28th a bus carrying armed people was stopped. Thehighways in the Moscow region, North Caucasus, and southern directions were covered with roadblocks, and until November 11th the patrol will work in a reinforced mode with two 12-hour shifts. Theywill comb everyone and everything: passenger buses and trucks, abandoned military bases and construction sites, vacant lots, and apartment buildings destined for the wrecking ball. Highway patrol and public safety posts will be reinforced with SOBR and OMON units (special SWAT police units), and working dogs. Butwhy is all of this done only after a terror act?

Mikhail FALAEEV.

Who is responsible for the lost minutes and hours?

Boris NEMTSOV, head of the SPS parliamentary faction, is convinced that the federal and Moscow city officials are responsible.

What did the SPS public commission, created to investigate the reasons for the deaths of the hostages, find out?

We have nothing against 'Alfa' and the special forces. Ibelieve that they did their mission professionally. Wehave nothing against the doctors who worked heroically. Oneneeds to bow before them. Veryfew died in the hospitals. People mainly died in the auditorium and in front of the entrance to the DK, where they lay inexcusably long without medical assistance. Manyhostages were carried from the building incorrectly their heads lolled back, their tongues fell into their airways, and they suffocated.

According to our experts, they were like drowning victims; they needed to immediately receive artificial respiration, heart massage, and injections. Theywere arranged like cordwood right on the asphalt, all in one pile without determining who was dead, who was still alive, who was suffering severely from the gas and who was not.

And who is guilty of this? Everyone was rushing to carry people out.

There is one: the officials that were responsible for organizing immediate medical assistance and transfer of hostages to hospitals. Ourexperts, and these are medics on a worldwide level, are unanimous in confirming that medical assistance to the victims at that moment was practically nil. Insuch situations help needs to be rendered on the spot, and not to send half-dead people to hospitals. Buteven the ambulances that were there were stuck in traffic jams. Victims were simply tossed into buses without physicians, without help, and it's not surprising that the rescued hostages were dying right there.

The officials expected that they would only have to deal with dead bodies?

Judging from everything, that's how it was. Forsomewhere around a half-hour the hostages, including those still alive, we lying by the entrance and no one collected them. Thirty minutes after the assault they had only just started to carry out the bodies. Andthen transport. Thisvaluable time for saving (the victims) was wasted. Onthe video recording that the commission has it is obvious how everything went on, to the very minute.

But the officials can say that the decision to conduct an assault was made in a matter of minutes.

Not true, this decision was carefully prepared. What, they never knew that they would have to carry people out of there? Why, if there were so many ambulances, did hostages have to go on buses? Andwhy was everything so haphazardly organized? Ican understand if this had happened out in an open field, but in the center of Moscow?

The parliament refused to form a commission?

Tremendous, harsh pressure from the side of the bureaucracy was brought to bear. Theyfeared the disclosure of their incompetence. Sucha decision by the parliament is scandalous. Weintend to present the commission's report to the president. Ifthe officials remain unpunished, then there is no guarantee that this will not happen again.

They accuse the Right of feasting on the tragedy.

Irina and my actions were in full coordination with the operational headquarters, and each had their role. Wemade no contact whatsoever with terrorists without informing the FSB chiefs, the operational headquarters, and the president's administration.

But why was it not you, but (Irina) Hakamada who went with Kobzon into the terrorist den?

The leadership of our country made this decision. Iconducted telephone negotiations with Abu-Bakar.

Nikolai YEFIMOVICH

 
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