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Finogenov, Igor
Written by ,   
, 07 2007

Age 32; Russia, Moscow.

To write down my memories of my brother is difficult, even four years after his death. Yes, and it is difficult to describe a person whom you know so well in mere words, a person with whom you spent your wholelife.

Igor Finogenov was born on September 16th, 1970, and was about 3years and 8months my senior. Hewas my biologic brother, and many of his interests had an effect on my life: his music studies, his hobbies in photography, cinematography, and sports all these became my interests and hobbies as well. Backwhen we were kids, we grew up in a simple, half-empty Russian village, somewhere on the edge of the Penza region. Ouraunt was like a second mother to us, and we spent almost every summer vacation with her. Wehad a warm and happy childhood.

I do not know where he learned it from, but even back then he knew how to do everything he had golden hands, and, of course, taught me an awful lot.

In first grade he was in the figure skating section, and later he entertained himself with chemistry, boxing, swimming, heavy athletics, computer programming, and in his later years he read science fiction, psychology, philosophy, history, and about travels through the heart of the Russian interior. Heread a lot, and quickly, too. Oncehe even gave away his television so that he would not be distracted. Manyfierce arguments occurred with regards to our nations recent past, especially with the appearance of new treatises on Russian history. Withthe help of philosophy and psychology, we attempted to formulate the meaning of life, and to understand our place in the world. Igorwas not a religious person his study of Russian history had destroyed his respect for the ecclesiastical elite. Therefore, a faith in Christian values, implanted by our mother down to his absolutely pragmatic and materialistic core, created within him an inexplicable cocktail of harsh and completely merciless logic, and an unexplainable, insurmountable faith in goodness and justice, which was often destructive to his own self.

On finishing school, Igor entered the Moscow Institute, but for some reason left after the first class, and went to serve in the army. Istill do not understand how our parents allowed this. Those were some dangerous years, and he found himself in hot spots in Nagorny Karabakh, Nakhichevan, Tskhinvali, and Pridnestrove. Heearned the right to wear the beret of an elite army unit and became a member of the interior ministrys special forces. Iremember how the family would sit front of the television in the evenings, listening to the names of those killed in action in the places where my brother was serving.

We were fortunate in the fall of 1991Igor came home alive and well, though he never wanted to talk about his service in the army. Obviously, he had his reasons.

That same autumn, after passing through the gauntlet (when you have to fight 10to 15soldiers in a row without a break), Igor was accepted into a special operations unit of the Moscow police department, where he served right up until Nord-Ost.

I do not recall when it was that he ceased to rear me, and when it was that we established a solid dialogue. Perhaps, it was when Iwas in 3rd or 4th grade. Later, everything was ideal. Inever tried to evaluate our relationship we simply understood and trusted one another. Itwas very important, since our stepfather had returned to his old family at the end of 1991. Wehad to orient ourselves in life to one another, while our mother, though she still loved us as much as she could, never understood us at this level. Mybrother and Icould pass volumes of information between each other with a simple look in the eye. Wecould get by without words. Itwas like breathing fresh air you just knew that it was normal, as it should be, and as it always would be.

Igor did not like musicals (he preferred books to plays a hundred times more), but he could not refuse to watch Nord-Ost with his girl. Thatis how they went Igor and Lena. Thatis how they sat there under the gun barrels of the bandits, in the 9th row, in seats 31and 32, right up until the storming of the theater. Whenthey noticed and felt the gas, they tried to protect themselves with handkerchiefs, but Lena lost consciousness after 15minutes.

Mother was sick at the time. Idid not tell her that Igor had been taken hostage. Ilied, and said that he was able to escape and was on duty with his unit at Dubrovka. Atthe time Iwas more afraid of the terrorists than of a hostage rescue operation. Morethan anything, we were afraid that he would do some crazy heroics, as he did in 1993, when he saved a wounded fellow by yanking him out of the line of fire almost from under the wheels of a burning BTR. Hedid not fear death or supervisors, many of whom he was always irritating, but he conducted himself at work and in life as one who would not bow down. Wewere hoping that Lena would stop him from doing something foolish, especially when the moment of the assault would come.

Igor called his units command post when the terrorists seized the theater, and they were able to go on alert, draw weapons, and arrive at the scene even before orders came from higher up. Theywere the first to take charge of the situation and close the approaches to the theater complex. Theywere ready to fight, but received orders to disengage, and the whole operation was then taken over by the FSB. Igors mates were disappointed that they did not go in and save him and the others, in those minutes before the terrorists could set their explosives all over the theater hall. Whoknew back then how everything would turn out?

Igors comrades, and later myself, were only able to see Igor on October 26th, in Morgue #7. Physicians brought mother to the cemetery in a wheelchair her illness had seemed to lessen, but then internal bleeding began unexpectedly.

I do not remember what happened afterwards. Igors friends took care of all the details of the funeral. Ionly recall how many people came to bid him farewell many even from first grade. Igor, obviously, was not only a good friend to me, but to many, many others. Istill do not understand how he could have touched the hearts of such a huge number of people. Ihave a feeling that there was a lot Idid not know about my brother.

Igors friends still come visit our mother: they talk about him, and they are supportive with gifts and money. Icannot even begin to mention how many calls we receive.

Only now have we been able to begin to look through the old family albums with Igors pictures. Westill are not ready, however, to look at videos, or to read his diaries or writings.

On October 25th, while still a hostage in the theater hall, Igor sent a message to a former classmate, Masha Rumyantseva. Shewas with us during the days of the hostage crisis, and Igor text-messaged her instead of me in order to spare me the worry. Hewrote: If there was something please forgive me.

Yet, can we forgive ourselves, can we be pure of heart before the memory of our relatives, can we look into the eyes of their friends and loved ones, if people still do not know what went on at Nord-Ost? Ifour compatriots still do not know who were the heroes and who were the traitors there? Ifwe have not rendered to each in turn their just reward?

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