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HostageG.Vasilev tells about the events
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, 12 2002

By Marina Pereleshina and Grigory Zaslavsky

Such dreams after anesthesia

Theatrical case

Georgy Vasilev, producer and hostage, tells about the terror act

Georgy Vasilev, the producer and one of the writers of the musical Nord-Ost. He spent the entire duration of the terror act in the auditorium at Dubrovka. He could have left, but he stayed. And, by a happy confluence of circumstances, he survived. Coming out of shock, he told us his worst impressions of his life.

War veterans often say that they dream about battles for a long time afterwards. How are you sleeping now, what kinds of dreams do you have?

I practically dont dream anymore, because now Im living at such a tempo that Ihavent time for dreams. Late in the evening Isimply switch off and in the morning Ileap up out of insomnia. But if Ido have a dream, theyre these short little nightmares. Ill tell you about the weird dream Ihad after waking up from deep anesthesia. Its completely anecdotal: Iknew that Id been given gas and Im falling asleep, and that they saved me. I was unconscious for about ten hours with an IV, and when Istarted to come to, Ihad this unpleasant feeling they were striking me across the face and saying: Vasilev, open your eyes, Vasilev, whats your name? Some sort of a spy instinct Ihave started working, maybe Ive seen too many Hollywood movies, about how they torture people with chemicals. And when they were trying to bring me around in the hospital, Idecided that Iwasnt going to answer. This astonished the doctors, and they even brought in a special doctor. He opened my eyes, sees the signs of life, but doesnt say anything. I had the feeling that Chechens were torturing me and trying to turn me to Islam. And this confused me even more, and the doctor who was treating me spoke with the accent of someone from the Caucasus, and here Iwas, not waking up and pretending to be a spy.

We know that Ivashchenko was able to save himself, to run away. How did it happen that you stayed behind? You werent in the auditorium?

I wouldnt say that Ivashchenko ran away. He did something very important: after all, besides those who were in the auditorium, there were a lot of people behind the scenery whom he led out. I stayed behind on purpose, even though there was no time to think about it. When the capture began, Ivashchenko and Iwerent in the auditorium. We were in the sound studio on the third floor. When we found out that there was shooting going on, we ran downstairs right away. On the way we saw some people dressed in black waving pistols and assault rifles. We didnt know if it was some kind of a shot or the real thing. They bustled about, fired at us, and ran farther off, leaving the entrance to the auditorium free. And here Idived through the stage and into the auditorium, and there everyone was already gathered together. Later they led some children in who had been practicing at the time. The brought the whole orchestra in, dragged them from the orchestra pit. By the way, the orchestra could have walked right out through the service entrance that was free at the time. But they couldnt think, and were frightened by the shooting. For that matter, it was a tragedy for the orchestra, since every fourth one died eight out of thirty-two.

One gets the impression that you all could listen to the media right away. How did you get your information?

The terrorists had radios. I was able to sit close to one of the women who by the main detonator. She saw that Iwas listening and even turned it towards me so that Icould hear what was going on. In general, she had some sort of special relationship towards me, perhaps because she knew Iwas co-author of the musical. She and Ieven talked for a rather long while.

Did they watch the musical?

Yes, this woman apparently was the senior-most woman, and she was constantly by the explosives. She was apparently to set off the main blast. She said that she had seen the musical one and a half times.

They say that the terrorists kept their hands on the detonators, and that everyone could have been blown up at any moment. Did the terrorists know when the gas was released?

I also thought so at first. I thought that in order to set off the explosives, all they had to do was connect two wires. An hour after the assault Isaw that the two wires were twisted together and Igrabbed for my heart. Later Inoticed that for the thing to work you had to have batteries. The whole time we were there, Icould heart the tearing of scotch tape, which made everyone shudder, knowing that they were preparing their bombs. Right there on the spot the Chechens were taping the detonators to the explosives and screwing in wires. Over the course of two days, they put their bombs together from these half-finished devices. Why didnt they set them off? It sounds paradoxical, but the answer is simple: because no one gave the order. Everything was ready. These women actually had their hands on the detonators. I saw how these Moslem women related to their men as if they were higher beings. Not one of them could make a decision about setting off their bombs. Among the hostages were people who werent affected by the gas at all. This gas didnt work on everyone. Can you imagine how it could have been if even just one of these women hadnt been affected? Were very lucky that they were all knocked out.

You werent sitting just with hostages, but looking the terrorists right in the eye. We know very little about this. How educated were these people? What was their condition?

They varied. There were leaders, commander: they were on one level, as far as hierarchy, any of them could decide whether to release one or another person. They had more or less full authority. This group was very well trained. At the right time they could lower the level of tension, or when needed bring it back up again. There were also simple guards who Iwas able to meet when Iwas carrying out the wounded. This was a military unit.

They say that two weeks before the capture took place, the FSB had information that such a capture could take place in Moscow. Did you have any information?

We didnt know anything about this, though its obvious that this terrorist act had been prepared long in advance. One of the Chechens said that there were people among them who went to Nord-Ost four times. Was this a suspicious love of musicals? One of our actors said that he saw one of the terrorists when they were building the gay club that opened literally a month ago.

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