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Mark Rozovsky, the father of a hostage, tells about the events
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, 01 2003
In Kontinent (The Continent), issue #166

Our victory was two-thirds calamity

October 23rd, 2002. Inside the theater By the Nikitsky Gate the show Story of a Horse was just finishing. Ihad not managed to even make it back to my office when someone ran up, saying: Mark Grigorevich, turn on the TV!

Within a minute Tanya, my wife, and Ihad our coatson.

The capture of hostages at the Dubrovka theatrical center, which the whole world knows about from television, meant to me something the most terrible of all the possible loss of my daughter. Fora year she had been an actress at Nord-Ost, and could even be there at this very moment.

While in the car, Iphoned my ex-wife Lana: Wheres Sasha?
Her reply was an awful whisper: In the auditorium.
And you? Where are you right now?
I cant talk, and she hungup.

Thus began three days of an around-the-clock nightmare.

* * *

Over and over Ikeep trying to phone Lana, without result. Finally Ifind Sashkas number and Idial it at least 30times, but it is no use, the line is dead. Tanya is also calling for, since Iam behind thewheel.

We drive to the roundabout on Dubrovka. Hereis the first police cordon, and the GAI (highway patrol trans.) send us down

Melnikov Street
, but we cannot get far in that direction, either. Morebarricades.

I park the car and try to go on foot, but men with assault rifles, flak vests, and helmets stand like a livingwall.

My daughter is in there. Letme by.
You need a pass.
Whos giving out passes?
How do Iget there?
You need a pass.

Situation normal: absurd. Butwhat is the most interesting is that it is clear to everyone that it is absurd. Youcannot you cannot fight it in
Russia. Wegot used to it long ago, to the absurd, but it is another matter entirely when you observe the absurd from the outside, and completely different when from the inside and the absurd presses on you from all sides and you feel your own impotence, your nothingness before worldwide, everyday stupidity. Through logic, Icontinue trying to bring pressure to bear: How can Iget a pass to headquarters if you dont let me into headquarters where Ican get a pass?

The question is met with a less than logical answer: We were told pass only. Andthats what were doing. And so, getting in through insolence did not work. Weneeded to find a way aroundit.

The foul rain is freezing. Dark. Thecrowd around the cordon grows as more relatives of hostages arrive. Eachone makes a useless attempt to get closer to the building where their loved ones are in dire straights.

None of the officials comes out to us. There is no information on what is going on, and what ensues is hysteria, panic, and rumors, rumors, rumors. Someone says that there are a hundred Chechens in the building, forty of them women, and all are suicide martyrs. Theysay that the Chechens have filled the building with explosives and were waiting for orders from BinLaden.

It doe not sound very plausible, but after September 11th one can believe any horror.

Someone starts another rumor: On the roofs of the nearby apartments are Chechen snipers.
To shoot us at the same time the kill the hostages.

Another version runs through the crowd: Now Putins going to arrive. Thentheyll start to shoot.
Hows this? Putins going to come here? Hell direct everybody from the Kremlin, instead.
Hes not directing, but coming to negotiate.
What negotiations? Withthe bandits? Hewont come.
Then all our people will die.
Together with them!
That means there will be an assault.
Then everyone will die.
That means there wont be an assault.

It has now begun, the nationwide discussion of: will there be an assault or not? It began in the first hours after the act of terror and immediately a blind alley appeared. Bothvariants were fraught with tragedy, and so, consequently, they had to choose the lesser of twoevils.

But wheres the guarantee that?
There are no guarantees! this became terribly clear to me on the very first night out at the barricades.

Rain continues to fall from a black sky. There are puddles under out feet, cloven by the wheels of armored cars and ambulances arriving at the building. Ohdaughter of mine, what is happening to you rightnow?

I am lost in the crowd, but a girl recognizes me: Mark Grigorevich, Im from Echo of Moscow. Willyou speak live on the air with Sergey Buntman?
But what can Isay to him? Idont know anything.
Say what you think is necessary. Im connecting you. She holds a cell phone out tome.
I tell Sergey that my daughter is there. ThatI am in shock and Ifear an explosion, just like everyone else is, and that Ifear for the lives of all the hostages sitting on that powderkeg.
What do you think needs to be done, in your opinion? the Echo of Moscow anchorman asksme.
Bewildered, Ianswer: I dont know. Theimportant this is to save the people.
What else could Isay?

* * *

The war in

No, the war in
Moscow. Nowit has gotten close to all of us, and breathes the foul stench of death in ourfaces.

Only a moment ago all of us standing here were separate. Wewere strangers, but suddenly we became very close in our common calamity. Fromnow on we would carry a common name. Nowwe are no longer a crowd, nor a coincidental gathering of very nervous people. Nowwe were the relatives of the hostages.

The terrorists have only one demand: to stop the war in
And nothing else?
Nothing. Strange. Iam not a terrorist, but Ialso want the very same thing, that the war in
Chechnya would end, but Iam not getting ready to blow anyone up over this. The bastards! Theyare playing with the lives of innocent people!
Yes, but by now means are all the people dying in
Chechnya rebel gunmen. Samashki, Stary Atagi, Pervomaisk and Budennovsk, Basayev, Budanov, chopped off ears and heads, refugees and mothers tears on both sides. Youcannot say who at any of those places, in every death, was the most right, or who was the most innocent.

War is evil. Terror is an evil deed. There is no justification for one, or theother.

My mind is muddled from terrible worry and the most unpleasant feeling, perhaps the worst feeling a man in a moment of misfortune can have, the feeling of impotence.

No matter what you say, they are not listening toyou.
No matter what you do, it will not save anyonenow.
I am seized by fury because of my inability to influence, personally influence, the situation.

* * *

I make another attempt to make it into the headquarters. Ifind an officer who looks like he is in charge. Itry to talk calmly and say something along the lines of: Iam the father of a girl in the building, and Ican offer myself as a hostage in her place. TheChechens will go for this, since Iam more valuable to them than the life of a baby, and while doing this Ican carry out any secret mission headquarters wants from me. Theofficer looks at me, as if Iwere an idiot, then a bit sarcastically (or perhaps, it seemed to me that is was sarcastically) he says: Step aside, citizen.
Cursing inside, Istepaside.

It is all right; this is just how it is. Theyhave us all step aside from this Chechen war. Itonly reaches us when our children end up coffins tin (army issue trans.) or regular ones. Andin so doing they shamelessly call us citizens.
But who arewe?
All the politicians call us Citizens of Russia!
So, step aside, citizens of

Once again Igo decisively up to the officer: Perhaps you could let me in? Maybe tell your superiors? Understand, Iwas supposed to, excuse me, Iam Mark Rozovsky, Iwas supposed to participate in all this.
Once again the officer explains things to me with the same quiet firmness: There's no needy, Mr. Rozovsky. There are professionals there, specialists. Theyknow what to do. Theyknow what and how. Theyll manage without you, and make the right decisions. Dont worry.

These are the last words Iremember, and yet they seem symbolic. Butonly later, after the assault, did Irealizethis.

* * *

Oceans of rain beat down on the asphalt. Tanya and Iare chilled to the bone, and run to a gas station where Ibuy a bottle of brandy for the purposes of warming up. Together with a little flock of young journalists, we hop from backyard to backyard to get a little closer to the building, this time from a different side, but there we run into a cordon that was no less harsh. Andpresidential assistant Yastrzhembsky.

We run up to him and hear: All the children have been released and are in a bus. Youwife has also been released. He means my ex-wife Lana. She is in the headquarters with Nechayev. He means her present husband, the former economics minister and now president of a financial corporation. Nechayev, fortunately for him, has more opportunities to get inside headquarters than

I rejoice, but not for long. Idial Andrey Nechayevs number and hear, as they say, straight from the horses mouth: yes, Lana has been freed by the special forces (but no other details). Sasha, however, is not in any bus, but continues to be there.

Choking on the words, Iask Lana: Im a hundred meters from you. AskAndrey to come out and let me into headquarters. Ican be useful, tell anyone who matters.
No, its not necessary, Lana replies. Nothing like that is necessary, followed by a dial tone. Weare cut off. Ofcourse, Lana is not herself right now. Sheis free, but her daughter is still under the threat of death. Sheis physically, and geographically, nearer to Sashka than Iam rightnow!

My distance, my worthless, useless hanging outside here by the cordon, and my growing feeling of impotence before the approaching calamity that could occur at any moment, all this has trampled my soul and brought me to a state of heavy depression. Where is the way out? There is no wayout.

Perhaps all along these Chechen dregs were trying make us feel complete crushed.

Unexpectedly, from the direction of the captured building Ihear automatic gunfire, and something explodes. Lord, have mercy! Lord, havemercy!

Then it all quiets down, and there is silence once again, a sinister, unendurable silence. Itmeans that the assault, thank God, has not begun. Itmeans that, for now, the peoples deaths are not inevitable.

The rest of the sleepless night Tanya and Ispend at home in front of the television, along with the entire country, jumping from channel to channel in search of new pictures and information about what is going on. Thispsychosis has only now just begun, will be repeated an infinite number of times, but we cannot tear ourselvesaway.

When Iclose my eyes Isee Sashka in front of me. Sashena, Sashulka, her eyes, her smile, and Ihear her voice, distinct to the point of derangement: Pa-aa-apa, when are you going to do Plague Feast again? Ourwhole class has decided to go.

* * *

I have never been to
Chechnya, and, perhaps, Inever will. Forsome reason it does not beckon to me. Butif Ido go, Iwill definitely toss back my head and try to look at the sky there in a bit more detail. Isit really that different? Isit not really just the same as our own, but with rocks instead of clouds? Instead of an azure color, is it black? Instead of a round sun, is theirs a squareone?

I do not believe this. Thepeople there are probably the same as us, too. Twolegs, two arms, a head on their shoulders, and a heart on the leftside.

Of course, that is on the outside. Wecannot tally what is inside them. That, which is inside their heads, does not fit into ours. That, which is in their hearts, we cannot understand.

No matter how often you explain the word jihad to a Christian, he, with uncertainty, will keep repeating the words: thou shalt not kill, yes, thou shalt not kill.

No matter how often you prove to a Jew and all paths lead to
Mecca, he will still kiss the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

We are all different. Therefore it is ridiculous to demand that the whole world live according to Sharia law. I, for example, do not want to, and Iwillnot.

Go ahead and killme.

And Iam notalone.

* * *

Seven hundred and some persons went to the musical Nord-Ost. Plussixty actors. Plusthe service personnel. Plusfifty terrorists. Altogether eight hundred or more. Twohundred persons will assault the building. Thismeans a thousand altogether.

And in an instant all will die from an explosion: children and adults, women and seniors, armed and unarmed, all unique and inimitable.

I hear Bin Ladens message on Al Jazeera television: The mission of primary importance at this stage of the war should be the fight against the unbelievers, the Americans, and the Jews.

From Saddam Hussein: I condemn the act of terrorism against
Russia. Ourmain enemies are Zionism and the American way of life.

It used to be that there were these so-called hot spots on the world map. The
Near East, Afghanistan, Chechnya. Nowthe hot spots have spread across the entire globe. Inquiet and faraway Australia the tin coffins are arriving.

But what is the reason? Arethere reasons? Isthere no primary cause for terror, this, the greatest calamity mankind has faced as it enters the third millennium?

We need to understand, to recognize, and to present to the world this awful secret, this, as you will, philosophy of terror as a phenomenon. Otherwise we cannot save neither my daughter, nor a thousand other lives inside Nord-Ost, nor millions of hostages who, though they are not in the auditorium, find themselves today hostages anyway, even though it seems to them that they arefree.

* * *

The second day has come and gone. Theyadded insomnia, but did not take away thealarm.

The television has overheated, and the telephone melted from the endless calls. Friends and strangers. Condolences, support, and moving warmth. Words, words, and morewords.

But as for changes in a better direction not hardly. Thepeople who have been released so far can be counted in the single digits, but they are sewing optimism all around: there will not be an assault, they say, and some clairvoyant promises that everything will befine.

Maybe forreal?

From time to time Irandomly dial Sashkas cell phone. Perhaps she will answer? Isit not possible? Whatif by some miracle my daughter answers?

No miracle. There is only the reality of eighteen suicide martyrs who someone has already named walking bombs. Atany moment the 2kilos of explosives in their belts, filled with nails and ball bearings, could go off, and then Forty children sitting on the balcony, and the adults with them, will be blown sky high as the first victims, and they will fall on the heads of those below. Amix of hands, legs, heads, and bloody rocks, all falling into one massgrave.

* * *

At five in the morning there was a call. Tanya picked it up. Thecall was from there: Tanya, this is Sasha. Youprobably know that were hostages. Tellpapa to gather his friends and acquaintances this morning on
Red Square for a demonstration against the war in Chechnya, otherwise theyll kill us. Ifthere is a demonstration, theyll let us go after . Us, that is, the children from Nord-Ost, followed by a dialtone.

Tanya never managed to ask Sasha a thing, but it was clear from the girls tone, from her rapid pace, that Sasha was speaking under duress, not in her own voice or with her own words. Agun was placed to my daughtershead.

Afterwards Sasha recounts: All the children were on the balcony. Weslept on the floor, between the seats. Wetook the cushions from the empty chairs and used them for pillows. Andhere we were sleeping when suddenly there was a gunshot. Thats how he woke all of us up.
Who is he?
Well, one of them. Theyhad one handsome one who looked like Ricky Martin.
Like who??!!
Like Ricky Martin. Thesinger, papa, Ricky Martin!
And he woke you all up in the middle of the night?
There was also an old lady there. They.

I noticed that after her rescue Sasha never called them terrorists, as we did. Itwas always one, the old lady. No, it is not Stockholm Syndrome. Itis a pure, childlike avoidance of un-childlike words, her intuitive way of steering away from politics, of avoiding the dirtiness oflife.

And who was the old lady?
She said that we had to call home and say whatever she told us, and she gave us some cell phones.

I thought that you probably know that were hostages sounded very unnatural, while otherwise theyll kill us was all too convincing. Butwhat was Ito do? Notgo to the demonstration? Ignore the late-night phone call from there? Goback to sleep and wait until the professionals released everyone? Until the negotiators finally negotiated something?

Hardly waiting for morning, Irush to
Red Square. Iflew there at the summons of my daughter who was sitting on a balcony, under which were explosives. Icould care less if this demonstration was sanctioned or not. Itseemed to me that even if there was only one chance to help the children, then we had to try. The main thing is to save the hostages? Thenlet us save them, not with words, but with deeds! Ademonstration, so let there be a demonstration. Atleast it would be something, at least something any action to assist the main thing.

So Iwas very surprised to see cops barricading the entrance to
Red Square from the direction of Vasilevsky Spusk. If they get permission for a demonstration, then well let you through. Ifnot remain here.

Together with me at the feet of Saint Basils were my true friends and colleagues: Sasha Gelman, Yuri Ryashentsev, Misha Kozakov, Volodya Dolinsky, and many familiar and unfamiliar people who continued to trickle in. Itwas plain, however, that there were still not enough people to make the event look weighty.

There was a mass of journalists, and a few television cameras. Allwere extremely excited.

Live on Echo of Moscow Icalled on the Muscovites to come to the demonstration: Right now, now a bus from Dubrovka will come with relatives of the hostages.
Someone says: Yastrzhembsky at this time is solving the problem of getting the demonstration sanctioned by the
Moscow authorities. Dont start yet. Their decision will be known in 15minutes.

We wait. Atleast there is something to wait for. Enough people had already gathered. Oneof the young people laid out some poster board, on which soon appeared the outlines of improvised slogans in felt-tippen.

Some news at last: Yastrzhembsky said that in order to receive official permission for a demonstration it is necessary for no less than a thousand people to gather. Whom it said it to, and if he even did say it like that cannot be guaranteed, but there is no time to clarifyit.

The placards are raised. Ibegin to chant first: Damn the war! Damnterror! Idont want my daughter to die at 14! Ibreak off yelling something, but just what it is, excuse me, Icannot describehere.

Wise Alexander Gelman does not speak as if at a demonstration. Hisspeech is directed not so much to those around him, as it is at the television viewers. Itis very good if they listen to him, if they hear him. Several other remarkable speeches follow, and suddenly, from Lord knows where, some provocateur slips in his declaration: The
Caucasus, Caucasus! Downwith the Russians in Chechnya! YourYeltsin started all this war. Takeall democrats to court!
Who are you? Iask. Come on, state what you are.
Im an Azerbaijani journalist.
He is lying. Ihave been in
Baku many times, and Iknow the Azerbaijani accent. Get out! Were not here to flatter your xenophobia.
He looks like the man Iwould see from behind during the assault, when they discovered a liaison, an informer for the terrorists.

I remember as well the smiling policeman walking through the crowd with his notebook, into which he carefully recorded the texts and slogans from thesigns.

The unsanctioned demonstration (if this could be called a demonstration) ended. Nowwe will wait: will they release the children after
, or will they not releasethem?

* * *

They did not releasethem.

Rejoice, those of you who believe that there was no need to pander to the terrorists. Rejoice patriots whose children are now and forever out of danger: the war in Chechnya others hands, others lives will continue for an eternity, and for an eternity we will carry on about how the blacks do not give us room, how they are filling up all of Russia. Comrade Stalin was right when he inflicted genocide on the Chechen people! Killthem! Crushthem!

We will Chechen-ize
Chechnya and other places. Butthey will Chechen-ize us. TheCaucasus for the Caucasians! Killthe Russians! Killthe Zionists! Kill! Kill! Kill!

They did not release them. However, it is good for someone! Itis advantageous to all: to those who organized the act of terror, and to those who must now take action to free the hostages. Ourhands are untied, since now there is a weighty argument for bloodletting: you cannot agree to anything with bandits.

Towards the evening of October 25th Iarrive at the same, uncomforting conclusion: there would be an assault, and everyone around me waslying.

Confirmation of this was sprinkled directly on myhead.

First: the unsanctioned antiwar demonstration was nothing more than the desire of the professionals not to be bothered. Thepublic should prepare for the use of force, and all that anyone disagrees about is whether this force should be exceptional. Whatis necessary, however, is something completely different: to convince society on the eve of the assault that all peaceful initiatives have broken down, and nothing remains but to strike a blow against the terrorists.

And then there is Zhirinovsky. Inthese critical minutes it is useful to listen to him, after all, in such cases he often blurts things out on purpose, to prepare us for the most idiotic of actions. Ina radio interview from
Iran he shouts in his usual style that we have got to release gas, then attack. Whoever lives lives, while whoever does not survive, they will be a minority! Thismeans, in this scenario, my Sashka is ready: either she ends up in the majority, or in the minority. There are no other options! Thisis in the best case, however. Inthe worst case, everyonedies.

And this worse case is more realistic.

The second sign of an impending assault the end of live television broadcasts from the scene. Itwas declared that from the morning of October 26th onwards, the reporting would now have a selective, informational character.

The third sign is related to the second: they report that the terrorists intend to start shooting hostages beginning at 6in the morning. Butwho reported it? Suchan important, and Iwould say, the most important report during the course of this act of terror according to the logic of the evildoers should be made by the evildoers themselves, it should have been Barayevs duty to say something about it on television if he wanted to frighten the whole world even more, is this not so? Butfor some reason he does not do this. Wereceive the most terrifying information from an indirect source, without any confirmation on the part of the terrorists. Thismeans, one can assume, that the sought-after excuse for the assault is being prepared along with the assault.

The barricades around the Nord-Ost building are moved out another 50meters. Thenanother 100.

This means a battle, an explosion, and shrapnel.

The closer it gets to the morning of the 26th, the louder they maintain that there will not be an assault, but the signs of an impending calamity are multiplying. Icould already physically feel that an assault was unavoidable. Theyfreed up space in hospitals for the incoming injured. Somewhere there was a report that the special forces were training in an identical building (I know that it is the Meridian DK, where we performed more than once). Finally there arrives a healthy, if not cynical realization that the assault is advantageous, it will be a link in the worldwide, just struggle against international terrorism.

Everything was coming together magically, except for the fact that Sasha and another 800potential victims were still inside Nord-Ost.

* * *

On October 25th Igot a call on behalf of Savik Shuster: We invite you to participate in todays live broadcast of Freedom of Speech. Iknew that this appearance was myduty.

In the studios antechamber Imeet Anpilov and a group of his comrades. Theyhad rushed to the broadcast, but had been refused admittance: We didnt invite you. To my surprise, Anpilovs people raise no objections and disappear as quietly as they had appeared. Onlythe invited remain.

I approach Shuster and ask: Is it a bad idea to emphasize that Iam Sasha Rozovskayas father? After all, if they are watching your broadcast in there, it might affect the fate of my daughter.
Yes, it might, says Savik, looking attentively into myeyes.
Im sorry. Id like to be maximally careful today.
I understand, saysSavik.

Of course, we were only spitting in the wind. Idid not know it at the time, but Izvestiya had already published a full list of the hostages, and Sasha, of course, was on thatlist.

Ten minutes before broadcast all the participants are warned: Choose your expressions carefully. Itwill not just be the television viewers watching, but also the terrorists. So, do not injure, frighten or excite the animals. Itake this advice as an extremely responsible order. Thank God, Iam not the only one who feels the growing danger of an assault. Allspeaking there are in agreement: not to allow senseless deaths, so it follows that the war in
Chechnya must end, and not just because it was what the terrorists demand, but because for any people, any war sticks in onescraw.

My appearance on Freedom of Speech on October 25th is muddled and tongue-tied, but Iam terribly worried and have not slept for twodays.

The time has come, Isay. Not for words, but for the matter to end, no matter what. Those who are holding hostage our children are committing violence. Theyare severely mistaken if they believe that violence can be conquered with violence. Unfortunately, we are divided by the same fallacy as well, and we too are driving the situation down a blind alley. Oneviolence gives birth to another violence, and a third, and latter a fourth, five, hundredth Andthe chain is endless; only the dead ever reach the end. Itis said that our Motherland is responsible for its children, and if she has sent her children to die senseless deaths in Afghanistan and Chechnya, then this must finally cease.

Today, Isay. The only means, it seems to me, direct, honest, and without unnecessary words, without demagoguery, and without discussions about how the most important thing for us is the man (and then do nothing), the leadership of the country must make a responsible political decision and remove excess forces. Iam no specialist; Ido not know what excess forces are perhaps to remove all of our armed forces from
Chechnya. Thepresident must come out to the people, it seems to me, as an average, everyday citizen, and say: My dears! Today in the name of human lives, in the name of freeing the hostages, the children, the women, and the men, Iam required, Iemphasize, required! Todo that, which these people demand of me.

I say that it is difficult, but Ido not see any other way for all of them, or for anyone, individually. Isay: They tell me that Im no patriot, so what do you advise me to do? These days when Jewish Roshal and Jewish Kobzon bring Russian people out, for some reason Idont see any Russian patriots there! Whydont Isee them? Yes, bandits and criminals have no nationality, but neither does grief.

No one hears my last words. Savik Shuster starts to read a heart-rending list of child hostages, but Istill think that my last words are the most important ones. Isay that all of Russian culture, all Russian history is witness to the fact that one cannot answer violence with violence, and if we sat at the same table with Fyodor Mihailovich Dostoyevski, he would tell us what terrorism was and what were its sources. Isay that deaths would never bring us to our main goal the end of thewar.

You cannot hold a candle in church in one hand, while with the other you vote for the death penalty, and you cannot consider yourself a Christian and simultaneously bloody yourself with innocent victims.

* * *

And so, that, which everyone feared more than anything, began.

My heart beat faster, and Iam panting. Dying from the horror, we await the explosion.

Fortunately it never comes, and it is victory. There are information extracts, in strictly measured, tiny portions, which the world hungrily lapsup.

In the meantime, a chronicle of the apocalypse: special forces carrying poisoned people out of the building. Their arms loll about, and many are unconscious. Theyare warehoused right by the entrance. Dead? Yes, undoubtedly there are somedead.

We watch the horrifying scenes: in front of us is Hell. Itis impossible to look upon this truth without shuddering, the truth of life anddeath.

But in this swarming crowd my eyes search for Sasha. Would Isee her, and would Irecognizeher?

For the morning and first half of the day Iam psychotic: where is she? Calling the hospitals is useless all official numbers are overloaded.

Phone Roshal, says Tanya. You know him.
Yes, we know each other, but Its awkward, Isay.
Its not. Yourdaughter was a hostage. Its very un-awkward.

Within a half an hour it is ascertained that Sasha is at the
Rusakovskaya Hospital. Wefly there at and we enter the ward. Sashka is on an IV. Herface is pale and swollen, but her eyes are full of laughter.

My daughter is alive! Shestayedalive!

* * *

129 dead. Isthis a little or alot?

The positing of such a question in and of itself is inadmissible.

Try to explain this to an actress from our theater, Victoria Zaslavskaya, who for days after the assault went about all the morgues in
Moscow and finally found her thirteen-year-old boy Arseny dead. Explain to her that her son is part of this a little or a lot. Howdo you think she would takeit?

It is impossible to approach the mothers and loved ones of the dead with consolatory speeches, not just because it is hardest for them, but because, more than anything, they know that these deaths could have been avoided, that the assault did not have to be. Itshould not have been, if in your heart there is a firm belief that the life of every person on earth is unique and inimitable, and therefore, invaluable.

But today Iam a happy father, happy beyond measure, and thankful beyond measure to that unidentified soldier who carried my Sasha from the building.

I asked Pavel Palych, the head physician at the
Rusakovskaya Pediatric Hospital, exactly when they brought my daughter to them: An ambulance with 8children arrived her at in the morning. Three were immediately transferred to intensive care. Yourdaughter was ambulatory and even gave her name: Sasha Rozovskaya. Weasked her where she was registered, but she was unable to answer this question, her consciousness at that time was muddled and scattered.

This means that, though she was subjected to the poison like everyone else, Sasha survived because she was terribly fortunate, because a special forces soldier carried her out as one of the first. Hadshe remained there another half an hour, or an hour, the outcome could have been just as tragic as Arsenys and Kristinas. After all, they were also in there and sitting right next toher!

Kristina cried a lot! Sasha told me later. In general, she was very stirred up.
How about you?
I held her hand. Iheld it tight and whispered: quit it.

A few days later, standing at the graves of Arseny and Kristina at Vagankovo, with bitterness and pain Iimagined these children on the balcony at Nord-Ost. Whyhad this been their fate? Whyis it that they, our children, should pay for the war in
Chechnya? Forthis damned war, which in the instant of an act of terror went from virtual to absolutely real. Howcan we not be ashamed? Itis ridiculous to continue to live as before! Foreveryone, every Russian, and every Chechen!

I had known Arseny since he was in diapers. Inour theater, he was what you would call the regimental son, like Sasha. Wegot together on all the New Years celebrations, and we spent summers on the dacha together, and we went to Nord-Ost together: Arseny played the main character, Sanya Grigorev, as a child. Whenhe joined the cast, he had exactly 20days left tolive.

And here they were lying in their coffins at the church in Vagankovo Arseny Kurilenko and Kristina Kurbatova. Anearly death made them resemble each other, almost as if they were twins. Theywill never again return again to the stage, or tolife.

Tears flow from peoples eyes. Andat the same time crocodile tears flow from the eyes of un-people.

Why is that I, the happiest of the happiest, now speak so cuttingly? Because until a person died, until a child died, Ispoke carefully, fearing to injure. Now, however, it follows that Imust be honest and express myself to theend.

Let us try to analyze everything that happened at Dubrovka and come to some kind of a conclusion.

* * *

No one ever proved the necessity of conducting an assault as the only means to save the lives of the hostages. Butthe facts speak for themselves: a plan to violently answer violence was accepted from the very beginning. Amurderous plan, based on the eternal position of the godless, that the ends justify the means.

In Izvestiya,
October 26th, 2002: On Friday evening near Dubrovka the relocation of forces began. Oursource in the FSB on duty outside the captured theater confirms this information. Watch television tonight, in a few hours it will all be over, he promised.

How compatible is this information with the explanation that the assault began because of the shootings (deaths) of two hostages? Orwere the deaths planned? Thespecial forces needed a reason to begin the assault, and if there was no such reason, then one had to be thoughtup.

The assault was a necessary measure in so far as the terrorists promised to shoot hostages. Itis not so. Thetruth is that there were no shootings, but if there were, then why did we not find out the names of those who were shot? Theyshould have been buried with all honors, like heroes who had fallen in the struggle with damnable terrorism. Noneof this occurred. Since there was no shooting, there was but information about a shooting, the imitation of a shooting, after which the gas could be released. Theyhad to teach the evildoers a lesson while being evildoers themselves, and so they showed them. Forthe benefit of thecause.

The same goal was served by the death of Olga Romanova, that same girl who dashed inside to personally demand the release of the hostages. Holysimplicity! But, by some miracle, she managed to get inside the building where they killed her, the little drunk. Onequestion, however: who really is responsible for her death? Theterrorists, without a doubt. Butthis murder has an uninvestigated secret: who on our side let the girl into the building? Iwas at Dubrovka from the very first night, and Ican testify that a fly could not get through the cordon there. Doesthis mean that it was a setup? Itmeans that they decided: let the little dummy go, let her in, it is not our doing, and it is just the thing we have been looking for. Thepreparation for the assault included not just the combat portion of the work, but also the propaganda, and so the sacrifice of someones life could be to the advantage of the main goal. Forthe benefit of thecause.

It is well if this version has no basis. Butthen why did no one raise a finger to call to account those on the cordon, which the invisible Olga Romanova passed through? Silence. Theyflung up their hands and forgot!

In a civilized government, where the authorities are answerable before their people, there would have been not just a general investigation, but also an investigation into each death, and not just as a result of the actual act of terror, but also as a result of our fight against the act of terror. Butthe parliament for some reason refused to create a parliamentary commission with the ability to honestly ascertain the circumstances of the tragedy at Dubrovka. Thiscovers the parliament with indelible disgrace


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