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HostageG.Delyatitskaya tells about the events
Written by   
, 02 2002

By Elena Novoselova in Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Galina Delyatitskaya, a choreographer at the musical Nord-Ost, spent three days on the balcony of the auditorium with the young actors. During the interrupted show she and a sculpting teacher named Sergey Lobankov were practicing dance numbers for the Russia concert, which were to be performed during the musicals first anniversary show.

When the second act started she went out onto the balcony in order to evaluate the Dance of the Pilots, and she saw a man in camouflage climb onto the stage carrying an assault rifle. Probably got in through the snack bar during intermission, she thought. The audience, however, decided that it was part of the act, and started to applaud

While we were talking together a surgeon came in to change her bandage. Whats wrong with your arm? I ask Galina.

I flayed the skin when Iwas climbing down a cable from the balcony.

?

The gunmen guarding us, on the very first day they threw a rope down from the balcony into the main auditorium. Why? Maybe they were thinking about retreat. While we were hostages Ikept hearing about trip wires. When the assault began we were afraid that the stairways were booby trapped and so we decided to use the rope.

You lost consciousness during the assault?

No. The gas came and Sergey got several handkerchiefs from somewhere. We ripped them up and moistened them and gave them to the children so that could breathe through them, like a wet filter. There werent enough handkerchiefs for me, but Iknew that Iwas sitting on a densely quilted dress. I wet it and lay down with the children between the seats. The shooting died down, but all around this unnatural snoring began. Now this was creepy. The idea got into my head that the children were choking on their tongues, so out of fear Istarted hitting everyone around me on their cheeks and pulling on their hair. It seemed to me that Icould keep them alive this way.

What did the children do all this time?

Oh, it was the kids, probably, who saved us psychologically. It was very touching how they took care of us: lay down, take a nap, you are tired! Sergey and Itook the cushions from the seats and made comfortable sleeping spots so that we could nap. It was very cold because theyd broken the windows on the third floor. None of the kids came unhinged, even though they were very emotional and open such were the kind specially selected for the musical.

Sergey he is very devotedly religious wrote a poem on some paper and the children and Iread these holy words. The kids asked us what was on the terrorists belts, but we lied and said they were radios. I tried to cheer them all up with funny stories. I told about how once Iwas on tour with our childrens troupe. One evening in the hotel Id put everyone to bed and then went to the bathroom down the hall. I closed the door and on the inside the handle falls off. What could Ido? All around me just white ceramic tiles and nothing else. All night long Idid calisthenics, sang songs, got up and down to stretch my legs. Our unfortunate children laughed so hard at this story! You know, in life the funny and sad times are always next to each other. I was still in the hospital when the mayor of Lytkarin, where Ilive, called up my mother. He asked her how he could help and she told him: Turn on the heat my tears are freezing! She had spent the entire three days before this on her knees in front of an icon.

Your troupe lost two children. Tell us about them.

While we were waiting to be rescued, Kristina was crying, she had a head cold, but in the chill her bronchitis flared up. Perhaps this is why she died: her weakened organism didnt survive the gas attack. Arseny was a new boy for us, and very emotional and impressionable. I observed him at several practices. The last time he was absent minded and had tears in his eyes: he had fallen in love and Ithink it was with Kristinka.

What was the hardest thing to endure?

Firstly, it was sleeping on the floor. It is true torture. Your sides simply fall off. I couldnt even lie on the bed in the hospital. The psychological attacks that gunmen dreamed up, however, they were even worse. Just now Iunderstand that they were programming us. It was true theater. Suddenly they start yelling: Hands on your heads! One fellow let his arms down and they came up to him and hit him with a rifle butt in the back of the head. Blood flowed. But the aggression lessened, and they gave us water and tossed chocolates into the auditorium. Their chief went on stage, a tall fellow just under two meters high (6 ft 6 in). In a soft voice he calmed us down and explained what the Chechens needed. This manner worked especially well on the children. They started telling me: Look what a nice man he is, hell let us sit on the floor and cover up from the cold! Brainwashed.

What impression did the terrorists make on you?

The main thing Ill swear to is that they didnt drink or smoke or shoot up (drugs). They didnt swear, although there was one case. Our journalists (the terrorists had a TV set) were very careless and in one of the first reports they said exactly this: We will make no concessions and guarantee the terrorists their lives only if they release all the hostages. After this the female kamikazes started to talk loudly in Russian: Hey, do you need your life? and another would say No ---- (censored word) do Ineed it! While on their faces you could see true happiness because soon they would have a chance to go to Allah. By the way, when Doctor Roshal was with us he looked at the children. One boy had a temperature of 38(100.4 degrees F) and a bad cough. The doctor asked the gunmen: Let us at least take the sick children. They wouldnt even let Roshal leave and said: No, now go sit down! and brought up some Chechen children who somewhere had been buried alive.

Will Nord-Ost go on?

We have to show that we are strong and love life. Those of us who survived have to do it most of all for Kristinka and Arseny.

 
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