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3.2. Disregard of procedures aimed at minimization of harm to hostages
Written by Administrator   
, 29 2006

3.2. Disregard of procedures aimed at minimization of harm to hostages

The injured party former hostages and relatives of the deceased makes claims against the authorities for failure to meet positive obligations of the State related to the right to life:

the authorities failed to prevent hostage taking; Movsar Barayev who had been officially declared dead twice, became the leader of the group of bandits who seized the theater;

the authorities missed the opportunities for effective negotiating process;

the authorities undertook the assault with the use of chemical agent disregarding its harmful properties and negative effect;

the authorities failed to provide qualified medical care to the released hostages;

the authorities refrained from launching an appropriate investigation into all the circumstances of the tragedy to be made.

3.2.1. Refusal to negotiate so as to minimize the number of hostages

To justify the use of force to resolve the situation, the authorities later asserted that the terrorists had put forward technically impossible terms. However, it is evident from the investigation materials that the problems arose for the sole reason that no authorized persons or professional negotiators had been invited to the process.

The criminal case materials contain reports on examination of a witness who had taken part in negotiations with terrorists (Appendix 16).

Extract from testimonial evidence given by Aide to the President of RussiaS.Yastrzhembsky (Appendix 16.1):

Anynegotiating could take place only by consent of V.Pronichev, no negotiators could undertake any actions without his consent, as far as Iknow. Atthe initial stage of the events no one on the part of Russian authorities made purposeful attempts to look for negotiators

the first thing that the terrorists demanded was the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Republic of Chechnya. Whenthey were told that the withdrawal of troops was unreal within the short period, that it was a very long process, the terrorists put forward the demand to withdraw Russian troops from anywhere in the Republic of Chechnya without specifying which area it was (Volume 1Sheets 196200of the case file).

Extract from testimonial evidence given by RF State Duma, leader of the Yabloko faction G.Yavlinsky (Appendix 16.2):

Inthe course of negotiations we stopped on the three of the demands: termination of the use of heavy weapons, namely artillery and air forces in Chechnya starting with the next day, termination of mopping-up operations; a telephone conversation between Putin and Maskhadov (Volume 1Sheets 211-213of the case file).

Extract from testimonial evidence given by journalist A.Politkovskaya (Appendix 16.3):

the President of Russia should publicly declare that he is striving to stop the war in Chechnya and to confirm this by withdrawing Russian troops from any of the areas of the Republic of Chechnya (Volume 1Sheet 204-207of the case file).

It is evident from these extracts that the terms of the terrorists could be met in order to resolve the situation without resort to violent methods, i.e. is by negotiations. However, the authorities made public only one version of their demands to end the war in Chechnya, which was impossible. Theauthorities made no attempt to mislead the terrorists in order to draw out the negotiations in order to reduce the number of hostages.

On the contrary, on 24th of October, federal mass-media reported that a new division was sent to the Republic of Chechnya allegedly to replace the personnel of the previous one, which had been there for a long period of time.

Clause 14of the RF Law on Counter-terrorism runs:

1. Inthe course of a counterterrorist operation it is allowed to negotiate with terrorists with the purpose of saving human lives, material assets and to find opportunities to stop terrorist activities without resorting to force.

The government chose to use force in order to resolve the emergency situation, and failed to provide a person authorized engage in negotiations.

Later, trying to find excuses for their actions the authorities distorted facts about international counter-terrorist experience, by referring, for example, to the fact that there is no negotiating with terrorists in Israel

Actually, if hostages are taken in Israel, Israeli officials must enter into negotiations the first duty a nearby commander is to mothball the situation, to undertake no actions and to use his best efforts to prevent any development of the situation until the arrival of negotiators Negotiations are a must, all the demands are listened to very earnestly. Their demands are to be taken very seriously and treated with great attention. Assoon as they see their demands to be taken lightly, they start killing hostages. Every time they (terrorists) hope that this time it will work. Andevery time Israel enters into negotiations. Whatever terrorists demand, they should be told yes, we have to consider your conditions. Ifyou want political changes, it can not be done in a minute, we have to make your demand known to the parliament of the country, Special Forces are not authorized to decide on such issues. Thatis they have to play for time and to do their best to show terrorists that they are taking seriously the negotiations (Alexander Minkin, Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper journalist, Echo of Moscow radio February 23, 2005)

Jacob Kedmi an ex-head of one of the Israeli special services said the same in his interview: Any negotiations are justified, if it is the question of life and death for innocent people

(Mark Deitch Moskovsky Komsomolets, 26.10.2002) (Appendix 28.1).

From my negotiations with terrorists in the Theatrical Center and from the later developments Icame to believe that it had not been in the plans of the terrorists to blow up the Theatrical Center, and that the authorities were not interested in the rescue of all hostages. Themain events took place upon my return from negotiations with the terrorists. TheHead of Presidents AdministrationA.Voloshin ordered me in menacing tone of voice not to meddle with this story (Irina Khakamada State Duma Vice-Speaker, 14.01.04, Grani.ru: http://grani.ru/Politics/Russia/President/m.56704.html).

Russian authorities who focused on the destruction of the terrorists, instead of rescuing the hostages, which had been declared as their purpose, neglected the international experience of counterterrorist operations. Itis suffice to recall the experience of hostage release operation at the Embassy of Japan in Peru. Thelong lasting composure of special service commanders and the professional actions of negotiators made it possible to release the majority of the hostages. Thereduction of the number of potential victims facilitated subsequent actions of the special forces during the assault and decreased the loss of human life to a minimum: one hostage died from a heart attack.

Russian Federation authorities failed to take advantage of all the opportunities that could have reduced the overall number of hostages and thus could have enabled the special forces and rescue workers to operate more efficiently even in the case of an emergency storming.

3.2.2. Useof a special means without estimation of its effect on human life and without necessary medical aid facilities

As has been said above, special services used a special agent to neutralize terrorists in the situation that made it impossible to provide immediate medical aid and control individual dosage each hostage received.

The investigation made attempts to play down the importance and subsequently conceal the true reason of the death of hostages who had been exposed to the effect of the agent used in the assault. Sometimes that agent is referred to as a certain gaseous substance, in other cases it is referred to as an unidentified chemical substance (conclusions of forensic examination commission, Volumes 3033of the criminal case).

An FSB Directorate replied to the inquiry made by the For Human Rights All-Russian public movement about the composition, concentration and duration of the effect of the applied agent by stating that it was a special formulation on the basis of fentanyl derivatives (ref. 1/1471 of 03.11.2003).

At a press conference held on 30.10.2002, RF Healthcare Minister Yu. L.Shevchenko announced that similar preparations are widely used in medical practice and as such cannot cause lethal outcome (Appendix 12).

According to the classification given in M.D.Mashkovskys Medicinal Preparations directory: fentanyl is listed among narcotic analgesics (Appendix13). Itsapplication without dosage control and facilities for artificial ventilation of lungs may lead to lethal outcome.

In reality the use of the special means failed to bring the expected effect and instantly immobilize all the people in the auditorium, including the terrorists. According to the investigation data, the terrorists kept firing 13submachine guns and 8pistols for about 20minutes (Resolution on refusal to initiate a criminal case dated 16.10.2003, page 69; Background report based on the examination of testimonial evidence records given by hostages, Volume 1, File sheets 95-96), while the use of the special means in the situation that did not allow control of individual dosage for each hostage and immediate medical care to the injured entailed death of at least 125persons.

According to the conclusion made by a competent RF Healthcare Ministry organization All-Russian Center of Catastrophe Medicine Zashchita, upon request from the Moscow Public Prosecutors Office (dated 29.01.2003, volume 1, sheets of the case 166-169):

the aggravating circumstances were:

1) lack of advance notice of the proposed use of the special means.

2) lack of specific antidotes for the applied agent

Naloxone is also a narcotic substance. Itsaction as a breath spasm preventing agent in an opiate overdose situation depends on specifics of a human organism, to the extent that there may be no positive effect at all. Naloxone is strictly contra-indicated to children. Itsrepeated application (over 10mg) by mistake may lead to a lethal outcome caused by cardiac muscle spasm.

In 2003, BBC made a documentary titled Terror in Moscow with the participation and comments of leading scientists in anesthesia and non-lethal weapons. Theyreconstructed the events and included comments made by special services experts, testimonies of participants of the events both from among hostages and form heads of organizations that had taken part in the assault, as well as estimation of fentanyl effect on the people, lethality of its derivatives and its comparison with traditional lethal agents.

The research made by American scientists into fentanyl derivatives shows that their lethality level surpasses the efficiency of traditional lethal methods: the lethality degree of the gas used in the First World War was 7%, while in Dubrovka it exceeded 15%.

The persons responsible for the decision to use the special means could hardly be ignorant of its effect. According to an official report of the Austrian Embassys press-secretary Wolfgang Banyai, a former hostage, the death of an Austrian hostage Emilia Predova-Uzunov resulted from the use of gas in the course of the hostages release operation (Appendix 11).

Vladimir PUTIN at a September 20, 2003meeting with American journalists, said the following about the operation to rescue the Nord-Ost hostages: Those people died not because of the effects of the gas, for the gas is not harmful, it is harmless and could not have caused any harm to people. People died for a number of reasons, such as dehydration, chronic diseases, for the very fact that they had been made to stay in that building. Andwe can say that none of the hostages was injured in the course of the operation.

Vladimir PUTIN at an October 3, 2004meeting with Chinese journalists said:

I always try adhere to certain rules: In the first place, never to tell lies, to tell the truth whether it hurts or not. Ourpeople deserves the right to hear the truth.

This statement, to our mind, needs no comments.

3.2.3. Organization of Medical Aid

In order to make an objective and independent investigation into the events at the last stage of the operation to release the hostages, the Union of Right Forces formed a Public Commission that used experienced forensic medicine, emergency medicine and counterterrorist experts in its work and interviewed numerous eyewitnesses and participants in the events. (Appendix 28.9).

According to the conclusions made by the Commission, the excessive number of victims was caused by the negligence of officials responsible for providing medical aid to the injured.

Therefore, the Union of Right Forces faction leader Mr. B.Nemtsov filed an application to the RF Prosecutor General requesting him to make a careful examination and initiate a criminal case based on material elements of offence (November 04, 2002) (Appendix 20).

In reply to this application, the Moscow Public Prosecutors Office adopted a Resolution on refusal to initiate criminal proceedings against officials responsible for organization of medical aid to the hostages on the basis of lack of data on their non-performance or undue performance (December 31, 2002) (Appendix 21).

However, criminal case materials which became available to the authors, contain numerous pieces of evidence given by eyewitnesses and participants in the events that contradict the conclusion made by the Public Prosecutors office and testify to the following:

1. Saving of child hostage lives was not a priority task. Children in grave condition were neither taken to the closest hospital GVV 1, nor to a specialized toxicological hospital. Itcost the lives of 10children, with 5of them getting no medical aid at all (Forensic Examination Conclusions Volumes 1, 120of the criminal case).

2. Evacuation of hostages from the theatre and their transportation to hospitals were poorly organized and took a long time. According to eyewitnesses (Appendix 4), the hostages had been carried out of the theater even after 11.00 a.m., and as it follows from the report on the results of the of study of case histories of persons admitted to Moscow medical institutions on October 26, 2002 (Appendix 15) the evacuation of hostages continued even after 10.00 a.m., that is 4,5 hours after gas exposure.

3. Theabsence of an evacuation plan for injured persons is confirmed both by evidence given by medical workers who participated in the transportation of hostages from the TC to hospitals, and by explanations provided by Head Physicians of the hospitals that are available in the materials of the criminal case.

Delivery of victims was non-uniform both in terms of time and in terms of numbers distributed over the hospitals. Forexample, within 30minutes 213victims were brought to GB Hospital No.13, Ourpatients were taken to hospital No.13, which already had admitted a large number of victims, which was a reason for the delay (from explanations given by Ms. G.I.Kruglova, Volume 120, File sheet 108) (Appendix 17).

4748ambulances and 5buses drove up to the hospital simultaneously (from explanations given by the Head Physician of GB No.13 Ms. L.S.Aronova) (Resolution on refusal to initiate a criminal case dated 31.12.2002) (Appendix 21).

There were only 300350beds in the hospital, but we could have admitted up to 600patients (from explanations given by Head Physician of GVV No.1 D.G.Kirtadze (Resolution on refusal to initiate a criminal case dated 31.12.2002) (Appendix 21), however the hospital admitted only 130patients.

By request from Center of Emergency Medical Care they were informed that the hospital could admit 146150victims (from explanation given by Head Physician of GKB No.13 L.S.Aronova, Appendix 21), and only 50of them could be of resuscitation type (according to the explanation given by Moscow Head resuscitator anesthesiologist Mr. E.A.Evdokimov). Nevertheless 356injured were taken to GKB No.13. All the injured delivered to GKB No.13 were in heavy condition, many of then were in a coma (Appendix 21).

According to the explanation given by the Head Physician of GKB No.7 Ms. V.A.Afanasyeva, about 200beds in the hospital were made ready (Appendix 21), however, only 77patients were delivered. Medical workers who took part in the transportation, noted the absence of unhindered transportation routs (Appendix 17): We were neither notified of the kind of danger the victims had been exposed to nor of the hospitals to which they were to be taken. Eventually we went to GKB No.23 because Iknew where it was located (O.L.Safronova).

Igave the order to the driver to head to Volgogradsky highway, and to try to find on the way some car belonging to the Center of Emergency Medical Care or some distribution center in order to find out where the victims were to be taken to. Butwe found no such things (V.V.Gorbunov).

We did not know where to drive to so we just followed an ambulance car in front of us and arrived to GKB 53 (SushnikovaL.N.).

they opened the back door of the car and literally threw in two people in grave condition. Thereply to our question where they were to be taken to was wherever you want (G.I.Kruglova).

According to what Iknow, traffic jams hampered movement of ambulance brigades from metro station Proletarskaya to the TC (L.G.Kostomarova).

4. Absence of facilities that allow giving pre-medical emergency assistance on the scene of action, which could have enabled to save the lives of the rescued hostage victims is persistently being explained by the threat of explosion. Butthis argument contradicts the following fact. GVVNo.1, which had housed not only the HQ that had been directing the assault, but also the patients that had not been evacuated, was only 20meters from the supposed epicenter of explosion, that is from the TC building. Besides that, that hospital was specified among the first-order hospitals to admit the very bad cases, as follows from the order made by the Office of Public Prosecutor. These facts permit to consider such explanation as invalid and strained.

5. Intheir explanations (Volume 120of the criminal case) the medical workers stress the negative aspect of bringing victims in buses without required medical workers, medicine and medical instrument (Appendix 17):

an unfamiliar medic came up to me gave me 6ampoules of Naloxone, syringes and showed me the bus with the victims. There were 17injured persons in the bus (M.Yu. Zakharenkov).

Iwas put into a bus with the injured There were 40injured persons in the bus Anda representative of the Center of Emergency Medical Care gave me 10ampoules of Naloxone (V.V.Fyodorov).

The absence of facilities for temporary accommodation of the injured that could allow their resuscitation on site by several medical teams, the neglected problem of unhindered and continuous movement of ambulance cars and the buses, the mass transportation of the injured in buses without the required number of doctors, medical assistants and rescuers to accompany them as well as the absence of any information about the name of the used chemical agent used in a course of the special operation played a negative role. (Yu.K.Volkov)

I think the absence of free lanes for evacuation vehicles movement played a negative role in the way how the hostages were transported (E.A.Krugovykh)

Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper observer Dmitry Kafanov, who accompanied a bus with hostages, testifies to the same fact (Appendix 28.6).

(the continuation)

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