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HostageA.Andrianova tells hertale
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, 31 2002


In ‘Moskovsky Komsomolets’

“The female terrorists didn’t know how to shoot,” says hostage Anna Andrianova, who cannot get home

For the last few days, two newspapers have been looking for them

Two employees of ‘Moskovskaya Pravda’, advertising head Anna Andrianova and attorney Zhanna Tolstova, were among those who lived through 57hours of hell. Communications with them were cut off after the assault began, and day and night we were ringing up hospitals in hopes of finding our missing colleagues. Anyawas the first to be located, but the hospital would not let us in to see her. After she was released the following day, she came into her office where she has worked for more than 10years.

Anya had no time for talk she urgently needed to go to the prosecutor’s office to pick up her things, which, following the tragic events, were taken for examination by the investigators. Anyahad not even made it home yet, and spent her first night after the hospital at her mother’s. Shedid not have her keys, documents, or any money everything was at the prosecutor’s office. Ourconversation took place in a car en route from the newspaper to the investigator's office at No. 1Dubrovka, and then from there to Municipal Hospital No. 13.

- Anya, you are holding your own. Howhave you managed to move on from what you experienced?

“Well, what of it? Onemust continue to live, and enjoy life.”

- If you will allow me, let us start from the beginning. Howdid the militants behave during the early hours of the capture?

“They simple announced the terms of our release, and didn’t have any more contact with us in general. Theymostly talked with each other about this or that strategic objective. Thewomen had certain orders, and went back and forth. Later some of them dispersed throughout the building. Inthe next room of the theatrical center there were dancers rehearsing at the time, so they went looking for them and then brought back a bunch and put them next to us. Wewere told only not to panic, otherwise they would shoot us.”

- Did the militants booby-trap the hall right away?

“No. Onlythe women had belts with explosives hanging off of them. Later they started mining the hall. Iremember that the sound of tape being unwound went on for a long time. Everything happened right before our eyes. Theybooby-trapped the perimeter of the auditorium, and two chairs wrapped up with explosives were put on stage. Theyalso did this behind us by the sound engineer’s window, and along the sides, everywhere.”

- Did they divide the hostages into groups?

“I heard about this, but where was Iin the main seating no one was divided up. Agirl who was on the balcony, who was in the hospital with me, she said they seemed to separate the men from the women.”

- What other orders did the terrorists give?

“They didn't give any other orders. Whenpeople are wrapped up in horror, and when no one understands a thing Toprovoke them with our screams or something else? No, everyone was scared, so we were quiet. Howdid they talk to us? They’d say: If you want to go to the toilet, raise your hand. Soyou do this and they nod to you and you say: May I? Andthey say: You may. Stand there. Sitthere. Atfirst, when people were in shock, some got sick and they asked: Is there a doctor in the hall? That’s how they normally talked, but Igot the feeling that they didn’t intend to be rough with us, or beat us or push us around or cause any physical injury.”

- What did you eat all this time?

“All sorts of sweets: chocolates, juices, Fanta and Pepsi and anything that was left in the snack bar. Whatelse was there? Buteveryone just dreamed about regular water. Fromtime to time the Chechens put some boxes of drinks out in front of us, and tossed all sorts of candy into the hall in every direction.”

- Did they take your clothes away?

“We had come to a show, and so all our outer clothing was hanging in the coat check. No, the terrorists didn’t strip us. Quite the opposite: when people got cold they brought us our things and gave them out to everybody. Theystayed dressed in their camouflage the whole time. Theydidn’t change into civilian clothes.”

- There was information that the terrorists shot dead two people: a man and a woman. Didyou see it happen?

“I didn't see the moment of the shooting, but Iremember that on the first night, a light-haired girl ran into to hall and started scolding the Chechens. Those who were in the front rows forced her to sit next to them, but she continued to behave aggressively. Thenthey yelled loudly to the auditorium: This girl was sent by the security services and she needs to be shot. Shewas taken out the door and Iheard several gunshots.

“There was another episode, when a man with a bloody head showed up, accompanied by the terrorists. They, of course, mistreated him a lot. Theybegan yelling at him: Where are you from? Andhe replied that he had a son in the hall. TheChechens shouted the son’s name but no one in the auditorium answered, so he was also shot.

“And Iremember one man lost his nerve and ran towards the seats of the female terrorists. Theystarted to shoot, but whether he managed to hide under a seat or they were just bad shots, they couldn’t hit this man, but they accidentally wounded two other hostages.”

- Of those who came to theatrical center, did any of them warned about an impending assault or gas attack?

“Now Iremember that, for some time before the assault, the doctors gave everyone some women’s panty liners, and in general terms they discussed conduct during civil defense. Somepeople, when they released the gas, wet these pads and used them like respirators. Asfar as Iknow, they stayed conscious longer than Idid, but they didn’t warn us straight out about an assault.”

- But how did the Chechens react to the gas attack?

“I think they ran to the exit, but not out into the street, but into an adjacent area.”

- What happened next?

“I had this bitter taste in my mouth and it made me drunk, and almost immediately Ilost consciousness. Ithink Iwoke up in the first floor admissions department (of the hospital). Theyimmediately forced us to drink a lot to wash out our stomachs. Thenpeople started turning inside out. Ugly, of course, this gag reflex, but what can you do? Theyalso made is go to the toilet, but nobody could. Thedoctors were worried about our kidneys, but things turned out okay. Wewanted to sleep, but the doctors didn’t allow it. Theywere afraid we wouldn’t wake up.”

By this time our press Volga had arrived at the temporary headquarters building, where, Anya hoped, they would solve her problems and, after all her terrible experiences, she could at least go home. Itdid not turn out that way, however. First we had to wait for an hour and a half while they located documents that recognized Anya as a victim. Thenshe had to write a statement and inventory in order to get her things but only if everything was in order, of course, would they give her them. Andonly after the November holidays. Notbefore.

Our further route was to the 13th Municipal Hospital, where Anna presented the nurses with hefty bouquet of white roses, and a box of fruit. Returning to the car, Anya stopped for a moment to look at her shoes: “Dang it! These boots were brand new. Iwas wearing these there, and just look at what they’ve become.” A woman will always be a woman, and following these words it was clear that she was had returned. Forever.

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