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HostageE.Yakoseva tells herstory
Written by   
, 27 2002
Chechens tried to save prisoners’ lives
Yesterday the surviving hostages told of the horrors they experienced.
This evening the first hostages were released from hospitals. Theyare apathetic and exhausted, but happy that they managed to survive alive. Russian security services did not allow anyone to communicate with the rescued hostages after Saturday morning’s assault. Theyknew that many could be seriously injured from poisoning by the gas.
26-year-old Oleg Zegonov said that inhaling the gas was “like drinking a ton of vodka.”
20-year-old student of Eugenia Yakoseva sat in the same place in the auditorium where the terrorists gathered the foreigners.
“When the gas appeared in the theater, right away Inoticed the acrid smell of this chemical substance,” she said. “I immediately knew what was going on. Everyone tried to cover their mouths with their clothing, but it didn’t help. Itseemed to me that Ipassed out after only a few seconds. Iremember Ifelt dizzy. Isaw that people sitting in front of me had fainted. Iwas very scared, but it was impossible to run away. Idecided that we were all going to die. Thelast thing Iremember was the panic of the terrorists, and their screams: Turn off the air conditioners! Thenthe terrorists also began falling to the floor. Mythroat didn’t hurt at all. Notfar from us sat some women that had explosives tied to their bodies. Theyalso lost consciousness. Iwoke up later and felt dizzy. Iwas nauseous. Isaw that commandos had come into the theater. Icouldn’t stand up, and Ifelt real sick. Oneof them carried me on his shoulder. Ihad a hard time thinking, so it’s hard for me to remember everything that happened. Icould only tell the police my name. Somesay that the decision to use the gas may have led to some deaths, but it saved hundreds. I’m not sure it was the right decision.”
Eugenia went to the theater with her mother Natalia, who also survived. Shecalmly talks about the 56-hour-long ordeal: “Nobody wanted to attract the terrorists’ attention, so we all tried to sit very quiet. Ingeneral, they treated us well enough. Theyonly yelled when we started getting neurotic.” According to theater director Georgy Vasilyev, the band of Chechens under fanatic Movsar Barayev plainly tried to save the lives of their captives after ‘Alfa’ began the assault.
“When the shooting started, the gunmen told us to get our heads down and hide under the seats,” said Vasilyev. “But then everybody fell asleep. Themilitants sat back with their heads lolling and their mouths wide open. Shots rang out, and the room started filling with gas. Isaw a terrorist sitting on stage jump up and try to put on a gas mask. Hetried desperately to get the mask on his face, then he fell down.” Some of the militants tried to reassure their captives. OlegZegonov said: “Among them was a young Chechen who didn’t wear a mask. Hespoke to the hostages and tried to reassure them. Theolder Chechen women who were 40or 50years old also assured us that everything would be okay.”
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