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HostageV.Ponomarev tells hisstory
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, 29 2002
In Rossiyskaya Gazeta
On Monday our ‘RG’ correspondent managed to get through on the phone to Vladislav Ponomarev at Moscow municipal hospital #7. Ponomarev is one of two former hostages from Krasnodar.
On October 20th, Vladislav Ponomarev, chief of gynecologic endoscopic surgery at Krasnodar Hospital, and Oleg Magerlamov, a surgeon in the same department, flew to Moscow to participate in the National Forum of Obstetricians and Gynecologists there. Bothmen are over 30, so in the evenings, after their intensive scientific debates, they went on cultural excursions to the metropolitan theaters. Theymanaged to see the musical ‘Chicago’, and on October 23rd, Vladislav was preparing to take his friend to the cinema, but later they decided to go see the sensational musical ‘Nord-Ost’.
It was almost a full day after the hostage rescue before Ponomarev’s family was able to find out where he was. Our‘RG’ correspondent called him up by cell phone at Municipal Hospital #7, and Vladislav immediately answered. Hisvoice was rather cheerful.
- Did you expect there would be an assault?
“Everyone knew there would be, even though most of us feared an assault and prayed to God that there wouldn’t be one. After all, we were surrounded by all these suicide bomber women, who were covered with explosives.”
- Did the terrorists know that you and Oleg were doctors?
“Yes. Right away we offered our assistance, because many of the hostages took sick during the first minutes after capture. Theterrorists, however, sharply declined and said our services weren’t wanted, so sit down and don’t cause trouble After Dr. Roshal came and left some drugs they allowed us to go see people who needed emergency assistance. Inthe auditorium there were two other medics besides us there was a man in a white lab coat named Alexander, and a woman in a red sweater, Idon’t know her name.”
- What do you think, was it was possible to do without the assault?
“Back then Iwas sure of it, but now Idon’t think so, because our nerves wouldn’t have held out, not our nerves, nor the terrorists’. During the last hours they were particularly brutal. Afew hours before the assault a man in the back suddenly jumps up and runs toward the terrorists with a bottle in his hand, and automatic fire flashed through the rows of hostages Thebullets hit a man and woman who were sitting behind us, and they started bleeding. Initially we weren’t allowed to go help them, but later they let us bandage them. Theman, Iremember his name was Pyotr Zakharov. Hehad a bullet in the region of the eye. Thewoman, her name was Natalya, she was hit in the stomach. Nextto her were her husband and son. Itwas awful to see the suffering of Natalya and her family. Weheld the wounded in our arms for about an hour. Atabout two in the morning we were allowed to call and report that several hostages needed immediate medical assistance. Thebandits didn’t let us to bring the wounded to the theater exit. Theyheld us at gunpoint while we carried the wounded to the lobby and handed them over to medics that had arrived. Ithink they were from the Red Cross Butwe had to return to our seats.”
- How did the last hours before the storm pass?
“We felt that the something was coming, but Ithink that the terrorists were ready for it. Itwas no coincidence that some of them got suited up in advance.”
Our ‘RG’ correspondent wished Vladislav a speedy recovery and return home, to Krasnodar, where his wife, two children, and many friends and acquaintances were waiting. OlegMagerlamov’s wife Inna, and his boss Igor Hankoyev searched for him for two days.Dr. Hankoyev is the chief of the Krasnodar municipal diagnostic and treatment association, where doctors Ponomarev and Magerlamov work as surgeons. Whenit was confirmed that Vladislav Ponomarev was alive, everyone believed that Oleg would be soon be found. Perhaps he was still unconscious because he had gotten more gas than the others. First they went around to all the hospitals, twice.Later they started to go through the morgues.On Monday afternoon they found Oleg in one of these.His four-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter would never see their father again.
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