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HostagesN.Suhareva and O.Ignatovskaya tell about the events
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, 24 2003
By Svetlana Samodelova

In Moskovsky Komsomolets (Moscow Young Communist)

The Rebirth of 'Nord-Ost'

These days, while carrying a baby under her heart, Chelyabinsk resident Natalya Suhareva can hardly believe that she was not afraid in that booby-trapped auditorium. Inmid-October last year she had traveled to an exhibition of footwear in the capital city. After finishing all the necessary documents to buy supplies for her own firm, which produced shoes, before leaving town Natalya and her colleagues went to the musical 'Nord-Ost'.

We ordered tickets for the show in advance, back in
Chelyabinsk, recounts 30-year-old Natasha. By a twist of fate, they turned out to be for October 23rd.

When the terrorists announced from the stage that we were hostages, Itook this seriously. Whenthe Chechens started freeing the Moslems, foreigners and children, Lyudmila Tovmasyan, from my hometown, asked if the pregnant women could leave, but the nearest gunman yelled that they were going to kill the pregnant women first. Evenafter this Idid not panic. Isimply tried to remain unnoticed.

Natalya and her colleagues were sitting in the balcony, and their guards were replaced. Lyudmila Tovmasyan asked each of them if they would release her pregnant friend. Theterrorists all told her towait.

Late at night, Istarted to take steps towards my freedom, Natalya shares with us. After one of my trips to the toilet, which was in the hallway, Iseated myself in the farthest seat in the row. Here, when they started shooting down in the main section, the bullets whistled right over my head and hit the wall only about a meter from me. Iknew that Ihad to protect my baby's life, so in front of the guards Islid out of my chair and whispered that Ididn't feel well, that it seemed Iwas giving birth. Themost senior of the Chechens came up to me and asked what month Iwas in. Mybaby wasn't due for another month and a half, but Isaid '9 months'. Thenhe quietly told me to gather all my things and go slowly down to the first floor, and to tell my people that they wanted troops taken out of
Chechnya is seven days. Hecalled after me and repeated not to hurry, but to go very slowly. Istarted down the stairs, and the flights were all glass and Isaw that there were snipers all around. Ofcourse Ididn't go get my coat in wardrobe, but went straight out onto the porch. Itwas deathly quiet. Andhere, right over my head a clear voice said: 'Hands behind your head, turn right, and run!' Ilooked around, but there was nobody there. Igot confused and I'm standing there as if rooted to the ground. Thenthat same voice said a little softer: 'Put your arms down, dear, and come on, come on, go to the right'. Iapproached the barricade and suddenly Iwas grabbed by several sets of arms, and taken to the headquarters and questioned. Thedoctors from the ambulance service wanted to take me to the hospital, but Iwouldn't have it, Isaid: 'I need to go to the hotel and call my husband.' Ihad managed to call him from the captured theater hall by cell phone, and my husband knew Iwas at Dubrovka. Theybrought me to the Izmailov hospital complex. Icalled my loved ones, and then afterwards they gave me a shot from which Islept for three days. Butyou know, my baby the whole time was 'kicking' in my belly. Hedidn't calm down until Iwas back in my hometown of Chelyabinsk.

Natalya's child was supposed to be born on December 5th, but on November 28th she had complications and started hemorrhaging. Theformer hostage was given an emergency caesarian section. The
Chelyabinsk doctors, who had followed the events taking place at Dubrovka, were especially attentive to this 'northeastern' delivery. Astrong, healthy boy weighing 3kilos, 950grams (8 lbs, 11oz ed.) came into this world, and they named him Sasha, for his father.

Now Natalya and her husband Alexander are very proud of their boy. 'Sanka' is growing into a calm, even-tempered, and very sociably little person. At9 months he confidently took his first steps and began to clearly say 'mama', 'baba', and 'lyalya'. He's a real man! Alexander delights in hisson.

When the boy was only a month old, Natalya went back to work. I'm a private entrepreneur, says the young mother. There's nobody to replace me. Every three hours she went home to breastfeed her little son. NowSashka eat a lot on his own, but he still loves mama's milk most of all. Ata year and seven months they are getting ready to take Sanka to kindergarten. Thelittle chap is already growing painfully independent.

He's my guardian angel, says Natalya, looking at her son. After all, it was because of my pregnancy that the terrorists released me from the auditorium on the very first night.

Eleven months after the tragic events at Dubrovka Natalya once again had to travel to
Moscow. For the two days Iwas in the capital, in spite of the peaceful situation, this feeling of fear never left me.

But Lyudmila Tovmasyan, who so persistently asked the terrorists to let her pregnant friend go, never awoke from the choking. Shereturned to her native
Chelyabinsk in a tin coffin.

* * *

Twenty-three year-old Oksana Ignatovskaya, more than 8months pregnant, spent over a day in 'northeastern' captivity.

She left the theatrical center on Dubrovka on October 24th, at 1in the morning. Herhusband Nikolai and the other hostages remained in the auditorium. When they released me, they asked me to say that there was no genocide going on in the hall, Oksana recalls. Later they opened the door for me, and Ileft, going down to the first floor. Theytold me through a microphone to go out outside. There was no one in the foyer no gunmen, and no police.

Later, already at home, Oksana's first call was to the television station, to make a statement on the air. Shedescribed the situation in the captured auditorium, and told her husband that she loved him and that she and their future child needed him verymuch.

The Ignatovskys ended up at 'Nord-Ost' on October 23rd completely by accident. We had tickets for the 19th, but my husband had to go the University of the Friendship of the People on that day, recalls Oksana. He was studying magistrates, so we changed the tickets to the 23rd.

Oksana watched the assault on the theatrical complex on television, looking closely at all who were led out from the building. Shemanaged to find out that Nikolai was in serious condition at the Sklifosovsky Institute, but on the night of October 2728she herself was taken to the obstetrics department of the Bauman 29th
Municipal Hospital.

That morning, though three weeks premature, Oksana Ignatovskaya successfully gave birth to a healthy daughter. Thebaby weighed 2kilos, 990g (6 lbs, 9oz ed.)

Nikolai at this time was in intensive care and had no idea that he was a father. Thecouple knew that they were going to have a daughter, but they had a hard time deciding on a name. Bothliked the names Vika and Darya. Inthe end they decided that Dasha sounded better.

Oksana heard her husband's voice by cell phone two days later, on October 30th. Nikolai had been transferred by then to the detoxification department. Whenhis wife and Dasha were discharged, Nikolai talked the doctors into letting him out as well. Hewent straight from his hospital ward to the maternity hospital, unshaven and in a stranger's raincoat. After being at home for a week, Nikolai had to return to the hospital. Three months later he again needed treatment. These were the long echoes of the 'Nord-Ost' tragedy.

The Ignatovskys do not like to remember those terrible days in October. Theydemanded no compensation from anyone for psychological damages or physical losses. Why, the main thing is that Nikolai is alive and healthy and here with us, says Oksana, pressing her daughter to herbosom.

Dasha will soon be one year old. Thebaby's first birthday will be celebrated in family surroundings. Everything is now fine with the Ignatovskys: papa is working; mama is studying at the Second Medical Institute, while daughter is growing into a bright and happy little person. Butthe word 'Nord-Ost' has become for them, and remains, a symbol of misfortune.

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