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, 29 2006


2.1. Chronology of the terrorist attack

A detailed chronology of what happened in Moscow on October 2326, 2002is given in Appendix 3. The authors give below a brief description of the events on the basis of mass media information, recollections of hostages and witnesses of the events.

October 23, 2002, Wednesday

At about 21:00, a group of armed people took hostages in the Theater Center (TC) in Dubrovka in Moscow, where Nord-Ost musical was on. Asit was found out by investigative bodies, the total number of captured persons was 912, with about 100children of school age among them.

According to the comment made by Alexey Gromov, Press-secretary of Russian President, Russian leader Vladimir Putin was immediately informed about the attack.

The OMON[1] and SOBR[2] brigades were summoned to the place. Thehead of Moscow GUVD[3], general Vladimir Pronin, headed to the scene. Soonthe media reported the news (after an interview with Mr. Yastrzhembsky) that the terrorists demanded payment of huge amounts of money in ransom.

Some of the hostages in the Theater Centre succeeded in contacting the police and mass media agencies by cell phones. Theytold that the terrorists were mining the building. Themain demand made by the terrorists was to withdraw armed forces from Chechnya.

One young lady freely came inside the TC building (as it was established later her name was Olga Romanova). Theterrorists thought her to be a FSB[4] agent and shot her.

They released some 15children, while a small group of actors of Nord-Ost musical managed to escape from the building.

October 24, 2002, Thursday

Headquarters (HQ) for emergency operations were formed on the site to control actions of special forces. Psychological Rehabilitation Center was set up so as to render assistance to the relatives of the hostages. Anumber of patients were evacuated from the War Veteran Hospital No.1 which is situated close by. Snipers took positions on the roofs of houses around the TC.

Terrorists promised to release hostage foreigners.

The FSB representatives declared that money ransom was out of the question. Russian Government offered terrorists to leave for any third country.

FSB Colonel Konstantin Vasilyev attempted to get into the patio of the TC. Hewas shot by the terrorists as he was approaching the building.

Terrorists demanded the arrival for negotiations of Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres representatives. Wellknown public and political figures such as Aslanbek Aslakhanov (deputy of the RF State Duma for the Republic of Chechnya), Iosif Kobzon (deputy of the RF State Duma, Chairman of the Russian Party for Peace), Irina Khakamada (deputy of the RF State Duma), Boris Nemtsov (deputy of the RF State Duma, leader of the Union of Right Forces faction), Grigory Yavlinsky (deputy of the RF State Duma, leader of Yabloko faction) took part in negotiations with the terrorists.

Ex-President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev also announced of his willingness to act as an intermediary in the course of negotiations with the terrorists.

The hostages appealed to President Putin to stop hostilities in Chechnya.

They asked to refrain from assaulting the building because the hall was packed with explosives and the terrorists threatened to blow everybody up should the assault start.

According to the FSB, 39hostages were set free during the past day. Theterrorists declared that they were ready to release 50hostages, if Akhmat Kadyrov, head of Chechnya administration, arrived. Irina Khakamada expressed hope that foreign citizens would be probably soon set free.

The UN Security Council demanded immediate and unconditional release of all hostages seized by the terrorists in Moscow. Inthe unanimously adopted resolution, the UN SC called on all the states to cooperate with Russia in order to find out and call to account the performers, organizers and sponsors of this terrorist attack.

October 25, Friday

Doctors with Dr. Leonid Roshal among them entered the captured building; the latter handed over medicines for the hostages.

NTV channel journalists recorded an interview with Movsar Barayev. Barayev announced that he could release all the children by morning time.

Some people, who had been hiding in the back rooms managed to get out of the TC building. According to the information from the headquarters, mass media presented those people as the ones who had been released by the terrorists.

An arrangement about the release of foreigners was reached. Terrorists agreed to let go 75foreign citizens in the presence of diplomatic representatives of their states. ButRussian authorities insisted that terrorists should not let out the hostages by separating them into foreign and Russian citizens. Agroup of foreign state diplomats kept staying in a waiting mode.

The terrorists released 8children on no conditions. There was still hope that another group of children would be released a few hours later.

The authorities denied the statement that they had tried to get in touch with Maskhadov. Theemergency HQ that had been specially set up to deal with the hostage situation in Moscow, held a meeting at which a decision was made to turn to well-known and influential Chechens so that they would use whatever ways they have in Chechnya to settle the situation with hostages.

FSB Director Nikolay Patrushev upon his meeting with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, made a statement that the lives of terrorists would be guaranteed on condition of hostage release.

Hostages in Dubrovka TC began to get water and food supplies.

Participants of rally held at Vasilyevsky Spusk[5] in Moscow in support of the hostages who had been captured by the terrorists, adopted an appeal to the President of the State:

Dear Mr. President,

It is the children, relatives and friends of hostages that are being held in the hall of the Theater Center who are addressing you! Weappeal to your reason and mercy! Weknow that the building is mined and any use of force is sure to trigger off the blast in the theater. Weare sure that there are no negotiations without concessions that may not be met, if it comes to the lives of 700people! Webeg you not to allow deaths of the people. Goon with negotiations! Compromise! Should our relatives perish, we wont be able to trust any more in the might of our State and in the reality of its executive power!

Please, do not let us become orphans!

It was signed by 250people.

In the course of the day the following people took part in negotiations with the terrorists -journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Sergey Govorukhin and Mark Franchetti; public and political figures Evgeny Primakov (deputy of the RF SD, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Russia), Ruslan Aushev (Chairman of War Veterans Committee with the CIS Heads of State Council and Ex-President of the Ingush Republic) and Aslanbek Aslakhanov (RF SD deputy for the Republic of Chechnya).

Terrorists wanted to negotiate with a representative of Vladimir Putin.

They did not specify the names.

At 21:55 four more hostages (citizens of Azerbaijan) were released from the building at 7, Melnikov Street. Thus, the total number of hostages that were set free on Friday was 19. According to the reached arrangement, US and Kazakhstan citizens were to be set free in the morning of October 26.

Gennady Vlakh, who had allegedly got information from the headquarters that his son was held hostage ran across the square and into the captured building. Hewas shot by the terrorists. 10minutes later another man went in the same direction, but he came back.

Between 23:00 and 24:00, one of the hostages with a bottle in hands ran over the backs of the seats towards a female terrorist, who was sitting next to an explosive assembly. Hostage takers shot at him, but stray bullets wounded two other hostages Tamara Starkova and Pavel Zakharov.

October 26, 2002, Saturday

Akhmed Zakayev, a special representative of Maskhadov, stated in his negotiations with Russia that Aslan Maskhadov appealed to the reason of the extremists who had taken hostages in Moscow and asked them to refrain from rash steps.

At approximately 2:00 a.m., two intensive care ambulances drove up to the theater. 2hostages were carried out of the building. Oneof them was a woman with a wound in abdomen, the other was a man with a wounded head.

5:00 a.m. suddenly the searchlights atop the roof of the Institute of Human Being that had been illuminating the main entrance to the TC went out.

5:30 a.m. Hostages (N.Skoptsova and A.Andrianova) called Echo of Moscow radio studio and told on-air that the police began an operation by pumping gas into the hall (Appendix 5).

2.2. Description of events inside and outside the captured auditorium

A detailed description of the events is given in Appendix 6Description of events inside and outside the hall by the participants.

Below, the authors offer a brief description of events based on the data from mass media, recollections of hostages and witnesses of the events.

As it follows from recollections of former hostages (Appendixes 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 28.3), the reaction of spectators to the news that the theater was under terrorist attack was not uniform some people remained calm, some reacted hysterically, others fainted. Nodoubt fear overwhelmed the spectators in the hall. Thesituation in the hall was nervous and it frequently changed depending on the mood of the hostage takers.

Leaders of security agencies failed to organize appropriate coverage of the events. Terrorists, while being in the TC, were keenly following the information that was available through the mass media. Anykind of misinformation brought hostages into the state of hopelessness and despair, and caused the terrorists to become more aggressive, they immediately began to utter threats about shooting and blowing the building. However no major disasters took place.

Relatives and friends of the hostages, who were arriving to the TC building in crowds, were accommodated in the sports hall of a nearby college (7, Melnikov St.). Thepremises of the same college were used for the needs of urgent medical care station and canteen, where people could get hot meals. Onewhole story of the building was put into disposal of the relatives where they could get a night rest and of Prosecutors HQ for investigators to work in. Detailed description of what going on there was given by the relatives of hostages (Appendixes 6.5, 6.6 and 6.7).

According to the evidence given by witnesses, the atmosphere around the captured building was that of bewilderment and confusion. (Appendixes 6.4, 28.4). Asit is evident from the press materials (according to Evgeny Krutikov, newspaper Izvestia journalist), by 7oclock in the morning of 24.10.20024 four headquarters had been set up. Each of the newly arrived generals sought to set up his own HQ and to start the negotiations anew Later the initial confusion of special agencies grew into their feverish activity (Appendix 28.2).

The participants in the events tell about disagreements in the work of different HQ.

Roman Shleinov (a member of Novaya Gazeta editorial board) tells: Politkovskaya arrived. AFSB representative, who had recently confirmed that she was expected to come to the headquarters, tried softly to convince her that, actually, none of the terrorists had asked her to come, meaning that it would be good for her to retreat Ittook an hour and a half of persuasions and coordinations Different agencies, different rooms, different approaches and competition between FSB[6], MVD[7], MO[8] which was noticeable even to a layman After negotiations with the bandits, Politkovskaya said that they permitted to send water and juice into the hall Thewater was supplied rather quickly, but too little to satisfy the needs Weagreed on persons to hand over the water, took the containers and were about to step out into the open space in front of the TC when a man dressed in black outfit with a gun showed up out of the shade of a close-by house and abruptly stopped our motion towards the building:

- Who are you and where are you going?

Uncertain we turned our heads back to the plain-clothes officer who accompanied us.

- Everything has been agreed upon, let them proceed.

- No, Ihave not got a confirmation from my superiors, insisted the man with the gun.

- But Iam from Alfa[9], everything is settled, said our escort.

- Alfa or Vympel[10], who cares?

So we stood there for about ten minutes while they were coordinating and agreeing and one of the special agencies was slowly becoming aware of what the other one was doing

Whenwe came back to the HQ, it turned out that juice and water had not yet been supplied. Wewaited till nightfall. Atlast a car arrived, we put the juices on an ordinary gurney wet with rain and set out towards the TC Whenwe came back behind the cordon and headed for the HQ, the guard once more failed to recognize us Again we stood there waiting. (Appendix 28.5).

Disagreements between the agencies failed to be regulated up to the moment of rescue operation. According to Dmitry, an ambulance doctor, as soon as we got the command on the radio, our column started out for Melnikov street. But my ambulance car was stopped by a cordon militiaman. It turned out that they had not yet got the command to let the ambulances through. Wewaited for the command to be given for about ten minutes (Appendix 6.8).

The medics who rendered medical care to the hostages also noted lack of interaction between the Ambulance Service, rescuers and the special task forces (Appendix 17).

2.3. Description of the operation to rescue the hostages

The attention of most part of mass media was fixed on the events in Dubrovka. Adetailed description of hostage rescue assault is given by eyewitnesses journalists of Agentura newspaper Irina Borogan and Andrey Soldatov, who watched the development of events in Dubrovka from within the line-of-sight range. (Appendix 4).

Below the authors give a brief description of succession of the events on the basis of mass media coverage.

5.10 a.m. Street lighting in the vicinity of the TC went out.

5.35 a.m. Shooting began in the vicinity of the TC building.

6.05 a.m. Representatives of emergency operations HQbroadcasted on the radio information about the beginning of assault operation that had been triggered off by the allegedly started shooting of hostages.

6.35 a.m. A group of police force servicemen broke into the theater through the central entrance, the square in front of the building began to be filled up with vehicles, including ambulances. Twowomen went out of the main entrance.

6.50 a.m. The shooting continued. First hostages were carried out of the main entrance.

7.00 a.m. Empty buses moved along Melnikov Street. People continued to carry the bodies of hostages out of the building. Theylaid them down in a row at the main entrance to TC. Ina few minutes the entire space is filled with bodies. There is no space left. Theythrow the dead bodies one onto another.

7.20 a.m. The first bus with hostages departs from the TC.

7.437.50 a.m. Two more buses with hostages leave the square.

Around 8.00 a.m. Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [Vladimir] Vasilyev announced that the cause for the beginning of the storming was an attempt made by a group of hostages to escape. Special Forces had nothing to do but to start the rescue operation.

11.00 a.m. People continue to carry the bodies of hostages out of the TC hall.

2.4. Public misinformed about the outcome of the special operation

When the first explosions were heard close to the TC, it became clear to all those present that it was the beginning of the assault.

According to T.Karpova, mother of a hostage, about one hour later after those explosions, Valentina Matvienko, Oleg Bocharov and other HQ representatives entered the college hall, where the relatives of hostages were staying.

They were all extremely agitated and cheerful. Theyapproached the microphone. Those in the hall froze with expectation. Andthen came the words of sweet lies: It was a brilliant storming! Allthe terrorists are dead! There are no victims among hostages! The hall burst into applause, shouted with joy. Everybody thanked the authorities and government officials for the saved lives of their kith and kin (Appendix 6.5)

At about 7:20, a HQ member reported through TV of successful termination of the special operation: the hostages were released and not a single word about the victims.

As it is known from materials of the criminal case, the bodies of dead hostages were stowed into two busses, which were parked at the TC. Nevertheless the official reports said noting about casualties among hostages. Thefirst official report about instances of death among hostages came at about 09:00 a.m., however, Vladimir Vasilyev, Deputy Chief of Staff, informed that there were no children among the dead, while, as it turned out later, the death of 5children had been stated by that time by medical experts.

All that time the authorities said nothing about the use of special chemical agent in the course of the storming.

At 1:00 p.m. Deputy Chief of the Staff [Vladimir] Vasilyev reported at a press-conference of the death of 67people, but again the fact of child deaths was concealed. According to him, he had authority only to make a statement that special chemical agents had been used and that some of the bandits had been captured alive.

1:45 p.m. The operational HQ ceased its work, and the relatives of the hostages were given phone numbers for making inquiries, where they allegedly could obtain information on the hospitals to which their relatives had been taken to. Butthe phone operators had no such information on former hostages. Federal media published a wrong list of hospitals which had allegedly admitted the former hostages.

The relatives of former hostages were not allowed inside the hospitals. There were many people whose identity had not been established, and the relatives wanted to hand over the photos of their loved ones to help with the identification but they only were met with flat refusal.

Despite the assurances that the authorities had made, many of the hospitals gave no lists at all which caused even more distress to those who had found their relatives neither among the living nor among the dead. (Appendixes 28.11 and 28.8).

Former hostages kept dying on the 26th, on the 27th and on the 28th of October. Atlast, only a week later, there came the real information on the dead over 120people.

According to the statement made by Prosecutors Office on November 1, 2002bodies of all the hostages who were counted as missing persons were identified in morgues. Onepart of them was found in Lefortovsky morgue initially, their bodies were believed to belong to the terrorists. However it was as late as June 2003when the family of Mr. G.Vlakh was informed that his body had been cremated together with the bodies of the terrorists. Thefamily got neither explanations nor apologies for what had happened (Appendix 28.13).

In November 2002it also became known that no terrorists had been captured alive, as it had been previously reported.

The official version of the harmlessness of the so called special means used during the storming was widely published in mass media. Health care officials assured people from TV screens even before the results of expert investigations were obtained that the reason for death of hostages was a complex of unfavorable factors and their chronic diseases.

The autopsy report issued about a 20year old girl Natalya Malenko, who had spent a whole week in a coma and died on the 2nd of November, had a standard phrase that she had suffered from accompanying chronic diseases (Appendix 10). However in practice an expert investigation found no indications of chronic diseases. (04.11.2002 RIA Novosti). Thecase of N.Malenko is not a single case. Likewise, no chronic diseases were found with Nina Milovidova (14 years) and Natalia Zhirova (39 years) according to forensic-medical reports.

A TV news reel about how Nord-Ost musical makers met with the RF President is characteristic of the situation. Along with producer of the musical Mr. G.Vasilyev, who had been caught in the gas attack, an actor from the childrens group Gleb Bauer, who had not been among the hostages, was presented to the TV audience (06.11.2002, Vremya and Novosti programs on ORT channel; Vesti program on RTR channel; Novosti program on TVTs channel).

Cases of injuries caused by the special means among special forces servicemen who took part in the rescue operation, were also concealed. On06.11.2002, Sergey Goncharov, President of the Alfa Unit Veterans Association and Moscow City Duma deputy stated that 9officers of Alfa Unit who had been poisoned by the gas during the release operation, were staying in hospitals (Appendix 9).

As is known today, at least 130hostages were killed, ten of which were children; about 700hostages were poisoned by gas a part of them became IIand IIIcategory invalids, 12people lost hearing totally or partially; 69children were made orphans by having lost parents as a result of the undertaken operation.

[1] Special Purpose Militia Units

[2] Special Unit for Emergency Situations

[3] Main Department of the Interior

[4] Special Service

[5] A place close to Red Square

[6] Federal Security Service

[7] Ministry of Interior

[8] Ministry of Defense

[9] Name of a special security unit

[10] Name of a special unit

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