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NTV correspondent S.Dedukh tells histale
Written by   
, 31 2002

THEY WERE NOT INTERESTED IN KILLING

In ‘Moskovsky Komsomolets’

Dedukh is 30years old, but he looks like 20. Hehas worked as a reporter at NTV since the birth of the company, but never became a star. Thebiggest story of his journalistic life found him instead. OnOctober 25th, at 10o’clock at night, Dedukh relieved Sergei Kholoshevsky on duty in front of ‘Nord-Ost’. Afew hours later, the whole country knew of him and his cameraman, Anton Peredelsky.

- Before you went to see Barayev, did you get any instructions from the FSB?

“They told us how to act while approaching the building and while going inside. AsI understand it, the Chechens didn’t want to talk with the headquarters, and yet we were supposed to persuade the terrorists to release the women and the children.”

- But they did not release anyone with you.

“They hinted: Tomorrow we’ll see how you showed us, and then we’ll decide. Itwas an insinuation more than an agreement.”

- The militants were really upset that they were shown without sound, and got very angry?

“Naturally, because they didn’t get what they expected. Theythought that everything would be like at Budennovsk, where Basayev spoke to the camera all he wanted and they showed it. Their anger was addressed directly at me and my cameraman, Anton Peredelsky, though if they had given it a little thought, they’d have understood that little in this situation depended on us. Ifwe let the terrorists speak, it could’ve resulted in a criminal case.”

- How did you find out that they were angry with you and Peredelsky?

“Correspondent Boris Koltsov and Sergei Govorukhin went there after we did, and they weren’t allowed to film a thing. Theywere threatened with execution, and, when they were leaving, Barayev told Koltsov that he was very unhappy with me. Thenext day it was decided to show basically the entire interview, but then we learned that Barayev was angry and had said: Show it or don’t show it, either way we won’t release anybody.”

- You understood that any wrong word or look could wreck the deal?

“Yes, but there was no particular fear. Fromthe way they met us, and during the course of the conversation, it was clear that they weren’t going to kill us or take us hostage. Itwas important for them to get on the air, but Ican’t say that Ibelieved every word.”

- Did you know that from the outset that your camera was on, and that you were taking a risk?

“Sure. Wehad been tasked with filming as many details as possible. The(hostage rescue) headquarters understood the value of every picture, but we weren’t allowed into the auditorium.”

- Now they want to impose restrictions on the work of the media in such situations. Areyou ready to sign on to this?

“Sure. Journalists should think about things so that they don’t cause harm or assist terrorists.”

- Was the conversation with Barayev the most extreme situation in your journalistic experience?

“I've seen just about everything, but I’ve never been this close to people who were ready to kill me without giving it so much as a thought. Iworked in Chechnya during the first war, and Iwas in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, but either way these just don’t compare. Journalists have been killed right next to me. Innorthern Afghanistan, after the Taliban had already abandoned the area, a Swedish journalist was trying to stop looters and he was killed. Several well-known foreign journalists were killed on the road from Kabul to Kandahar. Ourcorrespondent, Denis Shuysky, met with a man from the detachment of these killers, and he said that they just didn’t like the way the journalists looked.”

- Did you realize that Barayev might not have ‘liked the way you looked’?

“I was a bit nervous, but at the same time Iwas strongly driven. Whenyou stand out in the rain for hours with everybody, you start to think: nothing is going to happen today, Iwant some adventure. Sothe joy was greater than the fear. Iwent there with an excellent camera operator, Anton Peredelsky. Hewas with me in Afghanistan and I’ve known him a long time. Irespect all the cameramen, but Iwas very glad that it was Anton going with me to see the terrorists. Itwas he who tried to persuade the militants to let people go.”

- Why did the terrorists trust you there?

“I don’t know. Theywere even suspicious of Roshal, who took care of children in Chechnya. Onegunman even tried to take away his stethoscope, suspecting that it was a listening device. Butthey didn’t even search Anton and me. Whenwe went there, the lobby was empty. Itwas dark and there were upturned tables and overturned display cases, and by the entrance to the auditorium there was a little set up where, obviously, they sold programs. Sitting behind it were several gunmen in masks. Oneof them Inoticed had on Prada boots, and his slacks there were no less expensive. Itis clear that this man had lived in Moscow and had managed to dress up here. Barayev, on the other hand, asked that we not give him any questions that were too abstruse, since he was not very fluent in Russian.”

- As a journalist, did you somehow try to understand them?

“I know what goes on in Chechnya, so Icould understand why they did it.”

- Many, such as Leontiev on Channel One, now say that you say this because you were a victim of Stockholm syndrome, where the victims start to love their tormentors.

“I’d like to see what Mikhail Leontiev would’ve done if he’d been in our shoes, or in the hostages’ shoes. Hewouldn’t just have Stockholm syndrome, he’d have Leontiev syndrome.”

- How did your colleagues greet your return from ‘out of there’?

“It was the first time that a direct report Iwas making to NTV was ever recorded by other channels.”

- But back at NTV, there was probably euphoria?

“It was a very tough night. Jordan was in contact with Lesin and Yastrzhembsky. Whenhuman lives are at stake, is it even possible to think about competition? Thiswasn’t Pugacheva’s wedding to Kirkorov, where every channel was supposed to jump out of their britches.”

- How did you end up reporting space news on NTV, since you have a philologist education?

“It was by accident. Myfather was an officer on the General Staff, and a graduate of the Dzherzhinsky Missile Forces Academy. Hehad served at the cosmodrome in Baikonur and Plisetsk. Mymom also worked designing tactical satellites.”

- Did you call your relatives before you went to see Barayev?

“I didn't call anybody, but Itold my other news people not to expect any live reports from me for a few hours. Theyunderstood everything.”

- After all of this, what did your girlfriend say?

“She said: Promise me you’ll never go there ever again. Myfather, however, simply responded: You are a bravefool.”

 
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