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Svetlana Gubareva's description
Written by NovayaGazeta.Ru   
, 21 2004
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Svetlana Gubareva's description
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Description of the events during the seizure of the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow, October 2326, 2002

On October 23rd, 2002, I, Svetlana Gubareva, and my family: my 13- year-old daughter Alexandra Letyago, and fiancé Sandy Alan Booker, went to see the musical, 'Nord-Ost'.

The second act of the musical had just begun. Theso-called 'dance of the pilots' had ended, and suddenly Iheard automatic weapons fire. Aman with a mask on his face was on the stage, and was shooting in the air.

Then Ilooked to the side. Ifocused my attention on the aisle to my left (we sat at the end of row 17, in seats 24, 25, and 26). Agroup of men and women was walking by. Thewomen were dressed all in black. Someof the men were either completely dressed in camouflage, while some wore camouflage trousers and civilian sweaters, or were in civilian clothing.

The men had assault rifles, while the women carried pistols and grenades in their hands. Themen went first, and the women followed. Periodically a few women would stop by a row, while the remaining women would continue on to the stage. ThenI looked to the right women were also standing there. Icounted 9women on either side of the theater hall. Theystood up fairly often. Theydrove the actors off the stage, and chased away the orchestra musicians, putting them in the hall with us. Thenthey drove the ushers into the audience as well. Idid not see what was happening on the balcony, but it was probably something similar. Aman in military uniform on the stage (later Ilearned his name was Barayev) declared that we had been taken prisoner.

Icannot recall his words verbatim, because we were a long way off, and he was barely audible. Hedeclared that we were prisoners and that they wanted to stop the war in Chechnya. Those who had cell phones, he said, could call their loved ones and friends, but not the police, and tell them what was going on. Ithought at first that it was a bad joke, but Sandy immediately understood what was going on that these were dangerous people. Hesaid that if they started shooting, then we had to keep our headsdown.

The reaction in the hall when the Chechens entered: some remained calm, while others became hysterical or even fainted. TheChechen women had Valerian, a mild sedative, and they gave it to some hostages to calm them down. After Barayev made his declaration, he walked past our row and sat down two rows behind us, in row 19. Those sitting near him were able to speak tohim.

Naturally, the first question was: why us? Hestated that the war in Chechnya had already gone on for many years; people were dying every day. Their demand was a stop to the war in Chechnya. Somepeople began to say that they sympathized with the Chechens, and that they were also against the war. Barayev answered them: But you don't go to rallies demanding a stop to the war! Hereyou are going to the theater while they are killing us there. Women asked: But why us, the weak? Whydon't you seize the Duma (parliament)? Barayev replied that the Duma is well guarded, but they would agree to exchange ten hostages for each deputy of parliament, if someone expressed such a desire. Alittle while after this conversation, a woman in the parquet (theater stalls) stood up and said: Our government is in no hurry to save us, we have to do this ourselves. Let's call our relatives and friends. Havethem hold a rally on Red Square to demand an end to the war in Chechnya! Barayev answered: You can call if you want, and ordered his subordinates to give back cell phones that had been taken. People called their relatives on these cell phones, and told them (to hold the rally). TheChechens demanded nothing from the hostages, except obedience.

Sandy prayed a lot, and at those moments his expression looked as if he was renounced to his fate. AChechen woman standing by our row asked if he was doing poorly. Itried to work with this, and said: Yes, he's filling ill, he's going to have a heart attack. He's going to die if you don't let us out.

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