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Ten-year-old hostage Yuri Alekseenko tells hisstory
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, 25 2002
In ‘Gazeta’
Ten-year-old ‘Yura’ (Yuri) ended up in the group of children released by the terrorists. Hismother is still in the ‘Nord-Ost’ theatrical center auditorium. Yuratold ‘Gazeta’ how the events unfolded:
These people in masks went out on stage and into the hall. Theylined up the actors, shoulder-width apart. Allof them had Kalashnikov (assault) rifles and TTs (Tokarev pistols). Theywore black pants, big boots and no gloves. Atfirst Ithought it was a continuation of the show, even though it was not in the program.
We heard the sound of smashing glass out on the balcony. Theystarted shooting up into the air. ThenI realized that this was no joke, and my mother got really scared. Igrabbed myself by my shoulders and sat huddled like that. Someone on our row was shaking, and since the seats are all connected, the whole row shook.
They had big ‘Kettler’ bags with them, apparently with explosives. Theysaid that they had a remote control, and then asked: “Do you know Putin’s telephone number? Wedemand the withdrawal of the troops!”
I saw a few women among the people in masks. Ontheir belts, on the kind they normally hang glasses, hung dynamite all taped up.
Their boss took off his mask and said that everybody should not worry, that if they comply with their demands then nobody would get hurt. Helet us call our families to announce that we were hostages, and when he saw the panic in the room he joked: “You should already be used to this. Thisisn’t the first time.”
They started shooting at the scenery. Onewoman was calling on her mobile phone, and a terrorist went up to her and took away her phone. Hecalled somewhere and said that they had captured us. Thenhe tossed the phone on the floor and broke it.
They said: “You'll sit here all night,” and they brought out a case of Coca-Cola.
Later they said that they would release children under ten years old. Beside me sat a girl who had her birthday that day (she was either 11or 12) and her parents were in tears, pleading for them to release her, too.But they replied: “We don’t even know when our own birthday is!”
When we went downstairs, one of them said to me: “Somehow you don’t look that age!” Ianswered: “I'm big for my age!” and he left me alone.
When we passed the second floor, Inoticed a box of ice cream. There were TT pistols with silencers on top of it.
As soon as we were captured, Mom called up Dad. Whenthey took us out, he was already there. Hegrabbed me and sat me down in the car.
From Yura’s mother on the phone:
I am sitting in the auditorium in the same row, and in the same seat. Allnight long people were talking to each other about only one thing: how quickly the authorities could withdraw the troops. Theywill not let any use the bathroom, not even one at a time. Theysaid: “Go piss in the orchestra pit.” And they also said: “You’ll sit here until the troops are withdrawn.”
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