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Vlakh, Gennady
Written by   
, 07 2003
Age 39; Russia, Moscow.
Gena and Imet outside our apartment building in 1984, Galina Vlakh told me. And we got married. Ayear later Roman was born. Hewas named by his father. Three years later, however, we separated. Likethey say, our personalities couldn't get along.

Right after the divorce, crane-operator Vlakh moved to Armenia, in order to assist with the reconstruction of the cities of Spitak and Leninakan after the earthquake there. Heworked there 3years, and in 1991he was presented with a watch and an automobile by the city of Moscow for his efforts. Yuriy Luzhkov, back then just a representative of the city mayor, personally gave Vlakh the certificate for the Zhiguli. Gennady, however, refused the car. According to his wife, Gennady felt that his co-workers in digging out the collapsed Armenian cities should also receive such awards. Gennady's friends did not receive cars just certificates of appreciation.

Vlakh regularly sent the money he earned in Armenia to his son. Heeven sent money for their apartment, but as for himself he lived with friends. Hedid not drink, or smoke, and he worked out. Hishealth was remarkable.

On October 24th, according to Galina Vlakh, Gennady called her during the latter part of the day, and ask for his son. Galina told him that Roman was outside with friends.

The last person who spoke with Gennady was his friend, Aleksei Landyshev:

He called at about 10at night, and we talked about my remodelling of my apartment. Ididn't notice anything special in his tone. Later Ithought, that it was because of the television. Allthe stations were showing Dubrovka non-stop. Sohe must've decided that he had to save someone. Whatelse could it be?

According to witnesses, at 11:22 PM on October 25th, 2002, Gennady Vlakh showed up in the theater. Within 50minutes the terrorists had shot him. Gennady Vlakh was one of the two people killed by the terrorists. Thesecond was 26-year-old Olga Romanova, a consultant in the perfume department at L'Etual fashion store. Thegirl came to talk the terrorists into releasing some hostages. Shelived next to the theatrical center and since childhood knew all the back alleys and shortcuts. Itis possible that she helped Vlakh find his way through the police cordon aswell.

Galina Vlakh searched for her husband for about a month, combing through hospitals and morgues. Later she gave up looking: He just left and didn't say where he was going.

They called Roman Vlakh at home. Thecaller identified himself as a detective and invited Roman to come in for questioning to 'the Dubrovka Commission'. Roman told his mother about the call, and 3days later, after they had received official summons, they made their way to Balakirev Alley, where the commission was meeting. TheVlakhs arried at 10AM, and left for the last time 9hours later. Atfirst they answered all the investigator's questions: who they were, what kind of a surname they had, was there any other supporting documentation that they were really namedVlakh.

When Roman left to get a drink of water, the investigator quietly asked Galina how she felt about viewing pictures of corpses. Not too bad, she replied. They're shown on TV every day.

When Roman returned, the investigator laid before Roman and Galina 2color photos, frontal and side views, and Galina recognized her former husband, while 17-year-old Roman his father.

When they had gathered their wits again, they asked the investigator where the bodywas.

There is no body, he answered. Cremated. Buthow and where to get ahold of the ashes, give us 3days.

The investigator gave Roman a legal document that named him as a victim, and sent the Vlakhs to Old Arbat, to the Center for Social Defense, in order to collect money for the funeral. Oncethere, Roman was asked to present a death certificate, and so the Vlakhs were compelled to return to Balakirev Alley. Go sign in at the Housing Office, and get a copy from their records, advised the detectives, handing them a medical certificate that read that the cause of death of Citizen Vlakh was shock, hemorrhage, contusions, fractures, and a multitude of bullet wounds. The certificate was dated October 26th, 2002.

After getting a document from the housing office, the Vlakhs went to the Registration Office for the Khoroshevski region. There instead of a death certificate, they were given a voucher for compensation of funeral expenses, but after filling out the form, they were refused money for a pending funeral: Funds can only be disbursed after the funeral ritual, but you've buried no one, you don't even have a coffin! Back at the Social Defense center, they were also refused compensation, so the Vlakhs once again returned to the Dubrovka Commission. Go to the cemetary, they were told. Find out what kind of funeral papers they need. We'll help you.

The Vlakhs went to the Khikinski cemetary, where they asked for a certificate of cremation, but in order to get this, they had to go back to the commission yet again. InGalina Vlakh's words, they made so many trips there that we can find Balakirev Alley from the other side of Moscow with our eyes closed.

For the murder of Gennady Vlakh by terrorists, compensation in the amount for 100thousand rubles ($4000) was at last paid to Roman. Nowhe is trying to obtain compensation for the loss of a breadwinner.

On June 30th, more than 8months after Gennady Vlakh's death, the director of the Khimkinski cemetary finally allowed an urn containing Vlakh's ashes to be interred within the grave of Vlakh's mother.

The funeral service was held in the cathedral of Father Sergey Radonezhki, in Bivirev. Father Sergey blessed a handful of soil, and said: Strew this on the grave. Vlakh's relatives left with this, in order to meet the next day in section 39of the Kimkinski cemetary, where Vlakh's mother was buried.

On Monday, when Gennady's relatives gathered together, his photographs were already in frames on a grave marker. Hismother-in-law, Galina Petrovna, showed some family pictures: Here he is just born, here he is on the first day of school, his wedding picures, with his son, with friends

When it was explained that Vlakh's relatives were not even burying an urn, but a brown ceramic vase, purchased for 350rubles ($14), our reporter was interested in finding out what was inside.

They never gave us the ashes. Theywouldn't even say where he was, Galina quietly said. We couldn't bury it empty, so Mom and Idecided to put his soccer shirt in there. Heloved to play ball. Alsoa tea bag, and two candies truffle and chocolate. Wedecided not to put any cigarettes in, however. Heloved candy with his tea, but he wanted to quit smoking.

The grave digger arrives with his shovel. Heenters the flower box and starts do dig. Whenthe shovel hits something solid, the digger gets excited: What's that, a tomb? A neighbor friend of Vlakh calms the worker: There used to be a path here, a paving stone is still there.

The little grave for the urn was dug to shovel-blade depth, and the urn was wrapped in scotch tape and laid on the bottom of the hole. Everyone in turn placed a bit of holy soil upon it, and the grave digger, after packing the urn under clay and specially purchased potting soil, steppedaside.

In time the farewell ended. Tornup carnations were placed in a jar of water and left on the grave, and artificial flowers were poked into the ground. We'll plant some real flowers, come Autumn, said the mother-in-law.

At that moment, from the other end of the cemetery,were heard the three rifle volleys. This is for some soliders being buried in section 78, explained the grave digger. They were killed in the Caucasus.

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Comments (2)
1. Written by , on 05-03-200716:13
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2. Written by , on 24-08-201014:54
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