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Hostages Xenia and Nastya Mikhailova tell their stories
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, 28 2002
They named their teddy bear ‘Spetsnaz’
In ‘Moskovsky Komsomolets’
Anna Mikhailova tried to save her students to the very end
The amazing story about teacher Anna Valeryevna Mikhailova, who took her whole class to the musical ‘Nord-Ost’ along with her own two daughters, is approaching its conclusion. Thebandits released the two sisters on Friday, and while their mother remains in the 13th municipal hospital, the fate of all the children in her class is still unknown. Reporters from ‘MK’ were able to talk with the two newly freed girls.
Cute and friendly, they are the kind of children that Western filmmakers love to show in movies about prosperous American families. Andclearly, they are welcome guests: their grandmother does not even allow them go outside. Outof fear.
“We bought tickets for the musical, and went to the show with Mom on Wednesday evening,” the youngest, 9-year-old Nastya, begins her story.
To her everything that happened seemed like one great adventure with a happy ending. Herolder sister is a bit quieter, and somewhat inhibited. Sheis two years older than Nastya, and knows how the capture of the theater could have ended.
Their mother works as the head teacher at the Golden Section private school, and took 16of her students to the well-advertised musical. Annaalways took her daughters with her when taking students to the theater or cinema. Divorced, Anna Mikhailova raises the girls on her own.
They watched the first act, and then went out in the lobby.
“Then one of my mother’s students got a call from her parents,” continues Nastya. “They told her that she had to leave the show because they needed to go somewhere.”
The girl left. Thebell indicating the end of intermission sounded, and so Anna Valeryevna (Mikhailova) and her daughters and the other 159th-graders returned to the auditorium. Theyhad seats in the mezzanine.
“Ten minutes later people rushed onto the stage and started shooting at the ceiling,” says Xenia. “We thought it was part of the show. Aman laughed and got hit on the head with a rifle butt.”
“Some boy asked: Are you real?” Nastya continues. “They said: We came here from Chechnya to stop the war. Thenthey ordered the men to sit on the right side of the hall and the women on the left. Theyleft us all together.”
The bandits gave the hostages 30seconds to call their relatives. Annadialed her home number, but it was busy.
“She got through to her girlfriend,” said Anna’s mother, the girls’ grandmother. “And her girlfriend called me. Immediately Igot dressed and went to Dubrovka. Istood there for two days until my grandchildren were released.”
“Then they said to put all the mobile phones and electronic devices into a pile,” remember the girls. “And the handbags, too.”
According to Xenia and Nastya, there were about sixty terrorists. Twoposters were hung in the hall, with strange white characters on a black background.
“Three girls had grenades tied to them,” says Nastya. “They had these things where they could push a button, and ba-boom! Whenit got really boring, we played word games. Someof my mother’s students were crying.”
- And you?
“We didn’t. Itwas only terrible when they were shooting. Theyfed us chocolates. Theboy-actors were lucky: they got ice cream, but we didn’t.” Sincere sorrow appears on the girls’ faces.
“On the first day there Icouldn’t eat,” adds Xenia. “I had stomach cramps and Ididn’t want to. Weslept in our seats, but the terrorists slept right on the floor, covered with their jackets.”
On Friday morning the terrorists declared that they are ready to release eight children, among them the Mikhailov sisters.
“They took us out into the corridor,” says Xenia. “We were waiting a long time, but no one came for us. Wecouldn't get through to the Red Cross people so they could come get us, so they took us back to the hall. Later they got us and took us out to the corridor again, and released us. Mamastayed there with her class.”
“They gave me a teddy bear.” Nastya goes into another room and returns a minute later with a plush bear in a leather aviator jacket. Oneof the terrorists broke a toy store window and grabbed a baby bear for Nastya. Nowshe plays hostage with him. Heis a new cousin for their old teddy bear Mishka, who has long been a resident in the house, and they gave him the nickname of ‘Spetsnaz’ (special forces).
“Nastya is learning ballroom dancing,” says Xenia.
“Not anymore,” adds Nastya. “I’d have to go through ‘Nord-Ost’!”
I try to comfort the girl by telling her that they say a shell never lands twice in the same crater.
“In the room there was a woman,” Xenia says thoughtfully. “She said that it was the second time she’s been taken hostage.”
P. S.: An eyewitness now in the hospital said he was sitting near a teacher who came to the show with her students. Hesaw her wet napkins with water and apply them to the faces of children sitting next to her. Hewas probably talking about Anna Mikhailova. “By doing this she was able to save several children, until she lost consciousness,” added the eyewitness.
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