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6.5. Description of the events by victim T.I.Karpova
Written by Administrator   
, 21 2006
We did not found out that my son Alexander Sergeevich Karpov was among the hostages until October 24th, 2002. Sasha lived separately from us with his family, but traditionally telephoned every evening. On the 23rd there was no phone call. We found out from the television reports that the theatrical center on Dubrovka, where they were showing the musical Nord-Ost had been taken over by terrorists.

I knew that Sasha had wanted to see this musical, since being a singer-songwriter he knew the plays authors rather well. He had just finished a year of work in translating into Russian the musical Chicago, and he always liked to compare his work with the brainchild of Vasilev and Ivashchenko.

Right away Ithought that Sasha was in the hall that had been taken by the terrorists. More than anything, it was my maternal instinct, but continuing to hope for the better, our family spent the evening calling all of Sashas friends, trying to find out if any of them knew where Sasha was.

No one knew, but as it turned out later, no one wished me to worry. Many knew that Sasha was at the musical: the other bards (singer-songwriters) got together that evening to organize a large group excursion to Nord-Ost, but there were not enough tickets for all of them that night, and Sasha took the last two for himself and his wife.

At about 5:30 am the next morning the telephone rang. It was Sasha. My son Nikolai picked it up. Sasha spoke calmly, but, all the same, Nikolai could detect the worry in his voice. Sasha only said one thing: that we called all his friends and acquaintances and told them to go to a demonstration with signs reading Stop the war in Chechnya! Sasha explained that if such signs were shown to the television crews, and later shown on TV, then that could help all the hostages, i.e.: the terrorists would understand that the people outside the theater also supported their demands about stopping the war in Chechnya. It was the last wish, the last request of my son. These were the last words that Nikolai heard on the phone.

Right away we drove to Dubrovka, all the while calling all the friends and acquaintances of Sasha on the cell phone.

We got to Dubrovka at about 6:20 in the morning.

The whole city region had been cordoned off by the police and OMON (special SWAT-type police). We explained that my son and his wife were in the building. We were let through the barricades and told us that all the relatives and loved ones were allowed into the PTU (polytechnic university) on

Melnikov Street
#2, and they were keeping the relatives and loved ones informed about the events inside the captured theater hall. We entered the PTU building. At first, everyone who went there was asked to enter the name of those they were seeking among the captured spectators. We saw Sashas friends by the lists, and they had already entered Sasha and his wife on the lists. Next to Sasha and his wife, the boys had entered the names of another 9people on the lists. They were also their friends, fellows from the orchestra of Nord-Ost. Of these 11people, whom we were looking and waiting for, only three were survive. All the rest died.

In the PTU gymnasium there was a huge number of friends and relatives of the hostages. There were practically no free places to sit. Many had to stand or sit on their haunches.

There were televisions in the gym, and the screens continuously showed the news. On the right, by the window, was a whole row of tables with telephones for the relatives to call on if necessary. We found out that all the phones were bugged, as well as the cell phones, which displayed an unusual character on their screens. In a special spot set aside for it was a microphone. We found out that a headquarters was working in the gym. We often saw Oleg Bocharov, a Moscow city representative, with staff officers. He was continuously going up to the microphone and trying to calm those present, saying that the hostage rescue headquarters was on the ball, and that one measures were being taken, and that all would be well and everyone would soon be released.

It was relatively calm in the gym. There was no panic, though it was difficult for many to remain calm. There were duty physicians throughout the gym, and they were always offering their assistance and distributing tranquilizers. In more serious cases, there were premises nearby with emergency physicians. More than once we approached them and asked their help, since due to the worry and my state of health and fainted more than once. Finally my family and Iand our supporting group of Moscow bards and others of Sashas friends were able to situate ourselves not from the duty physicians, and here we remained until the assault.

Someone from the city assembly or the national parliament was always showing up. They always gave us warm words of encouragement and asked us to remain calm, to hold out, and wait.

Even though life had taught me more than once never to count on anyone else, Iwill not hide the fact that Iwas hoping very much that our children and relatives among the hostages, that all who were stuck in this awkward situation, that they would be helped, and would not remain in jeopardy! We watched all the television shows attentively, and listened to the ardent speeches of the government officials who came to see us! How we waited for real assistance from them! After all, from midday of the 24th we knew that there were more than a thousand people in the hall! We knew that there were children and pregnant women among the hostages! None of us even considered thoughts of a bad ending: the government could never abandon such a number of hostages. Everyone though this, and tried to calm one another the best they could.

They did everything they could for everyone at the PTU: they continuously brought us beverages, chocolate, cookies, and cigarettes. They organized hot food. One floor was set up so that people could even lie down and sleep a little. Psychologists and physicians were working continuously.

What shocked me was that in those first minutes there was a large group of Scientologists, located next to the doctors, dressed up in some kind of a yellow uniform. We soon found out that it was some kind of religious cult. I was surprised: why did the headquarters turn a blind eye to them? These religious cultists did not help the relatives of the hostages. On the contrary, they did all they could to injure us: they would block the qualified physicians from approaching people who were doing poorly! They read their homilies and tried get people to fall into trances with their prayers and hand gestures. Fights were always occurring with these people, and there were always conflicts between them and the medics and other people. My sons and Sashas friends who were always with us more than once got involved in these brawls when doctors asked their help in getting to people who urgently needed their assistance. Before my very eyes the doctors diagnosed one of the women as having a heart attack. The Scientologists would not let a group of emergency doctors through to evacuate the woman. They said that they had been given strength from up above, and that only they could save her. Our boys managed to get her away from the cultists with difficulty, and she was taken away. I do not know what happened to her later. The headquarters never reacted to this or similar incidents.

At about 2pm some of the hostage relatives organized an independent headquarters. They made up official lists of 45people who were ready to show their ID, and the leaders of this group went to O.Bocharov and asked him to provide a bus to take them to Red Square to the walls of the Kremlin, where this delegation would act in our name to demonstrate before the cameras with signs reading: Stop the war in Chechnya! As we found out later, at this very same time 5:30 to 6:00 in the morning on October 24th, 2002, many family received calls with this same request: to hold such signs for the cameras, to carry out the terrorists demand. No one was trying to provoke anything on Red Square. Their aim was only to do something to help rescue the hostages.

Headquarters, where O.Bocharov was located, received the relatives request. Bocharov said that they needed to wait a bit for the trip to Red Square, for official permission from the military headquarters and the president. At first they asked us to wait an hour then two then three.

Later those in the hall began to worry, and all understood that we were being deceived and that they were simply playing for time. The people could and would no longer wait. All said that if they were not given a bus right away, then they would go to Red Square on their own. As a result, a bus was provided, but too much time had already been wasted.

At about 6or 7pm they decision was made for everyone to go to an improvised demonstration by the walls of the theatrical center on Dubrovka, where the terrorists and hostages were. Representatives from headquarters, who were working at the PTU, advised us not to do this, but the peoples patience was at an end. Armed with tubes of lipstick, pens, and felt-tip pens, whatever anyone had on hand, everyone began to make signs. We all went outside the barrier. They warned us that they would not let us back into the PTU, and that we would have to spend the night on the street. The weather was awful: wet snow and rain and the same time. But the warning did not keep anyone in the PTU building. Everyone went to the Dubrovka crossroads. There were a lot of people, but there were no less police and plainclothes officers with radios. All the hostages relatives carried signs with demands to stop the war in Chechnya and to free the hostages. By number and organization we divided into two groups: a group headed by Alexander Tsekalo, supporting mostly made up the troupe of actors who had been seized by the terrorists, and the group of Moscow bards who supported Alexander Karpov and his wife, and, of course, all the rest of the hostages.

From where we stood, we could see that all along Dubrovka Street stood a long line of empty buses. At the time we had no idea why so many buses were assembled there. After a time, Alexander Tsekalo opened one of the buses and led inside the representatives of his support group. After a short meeting, the artists left the bus and made some kind of a platform with placards from Nord-Ost and started to sing songs from the musical. There were a lot of children and teenagers in this group. Later we learned that they were actors from the musicals second troupe, who were not working on the day the show was taken hostage. From the stage were could periodically hear the speeches of the artists in support of the hostages.

The group of bards also demonstrated with their huge number of placards in support of the hostages and, in part, their comrade, my son, Alexander Karpov. Many of the bards had small children with them, since they had no one to leave them home with. In those hours no one thought about the danger that of a possible explosion of the theatrical center.

People in civilian clothes continuously followed us, making radio reports of literally every step of our movements, but we conducted ourselves tactfully, and did not provoke a scandal. There were huge numbers of media people. All the participants in the demonstration were satisfied that we could carry out the hostages requests. Somewhere around 11pm we all returned to the PTU, where they allowed us back in. A lot more people had collected there, and it got very crowded. We periodically went outside to catch a breath, and thus we spent the night.

Exhausted from worrying about the fate of the hostages, and soaked from the rain at the demonstration, we waited and hoped for help from the authorities.

At about 10:30 pm we heard information that the demonstration on the Vasilevsky Slope in support of the hostages was continuing. Many went there right away. I had no strength to go to this demonstration, and Ido not know how it went. Certainly, we were all very thankful to the Muscovites who decided to support our relatives and loved ones.

October 25th, 2002, was the very same. We listened to every report given to us by headquarter. We knew about the members of parliament who had tried to hold talks with the terrorists. We knew that children up to 12years of age had been released. We cried and were happy together with their relatives, and we waited.

At about 10 in the morning, someone from the headquarters in the PTU went up to the microphone and told us that we all needed to immediately leave the premises of the gymnasium, so that they could air it out and do clean up. They told us that we could return in half an hour. The people stared to leave the PTU. I felt very poorly, and we decided that we would simply leave the gym and stand by the door. While we were standing there in the hallway, we saw that a police post was set up by the doors, and they forbid us from even looking into the gym. More than an hour passed before we could once again enter the gymnasium. One of the relatives of the hostages saw men in special uniforms with dogs enter the gym from the opposite side. We came to understand that they had used the pretext of a clean up to check the gym for explosive devices.

A young woman in a white lab coat was brought up to the microphone in the gym. They told us that she was a hostage who had been released by the terrorists because she was pregnant. She said that the atmosphere in the theater was very difficult, but the hostages were all holding out and conducting themselves relatively calmly.

Next came Yuri Luzhkov. Then Valentina Matvienko. Once again we heard those calming words. There was no panic. We quietly awaited the release of the hostages.

Later they reported that Doctor Roshal was in the theater, and he was looking after the hostages and distributing needed medicines. From information from Doctor Roshal, we found out that there were sick people in the hall, including children.

The gym began to get worried when close to evening they told us that if the terrorists demands were not met by 6am on the 26th, then the terrorists would begin shooting hostages. Later the again tried to calm us, saying that General Kazantsev was coming to the negotiations the next day. The terrorists agreed to speak with the general and to let the hostages go afterwards. Once again we had hope.

But this hope was soon extinguished when rumors swept the gym that armored vehicles and ambulances were on their way to the theatrical center. Everyone understood that an assault was imminent, and this could provoke the terrorists to blow up the building. The people poured out into the street. The medics who had been sitting next to my family got ready to assist the hostages. During this time we had befriended them, and they did not try to hide from us that the order to prepare for an assault had been given.

People conducted themselves in different ways. Someone was crying. Someone was shouting at the top of his lungs. Someone gave chocolates to the young soldiers standing at the barricades in front of our building. They were just children, and we found it frightful that any one of them could soon die during the assault, carrying out his duty. Most people, however, kept their hopes on a judicious government not conducting an assault. Everyone still hoped that the negotiations to be held that morning with General Kazantsev would not be a deception.

At about 5:30 in the morning on October 26th, 2002, we all could clearly hear several explosions. The blasts sounded very close together. There was nothing more to wait for: the assault had begun. No one would let us leave, and practically none of those who broke through came back. The physicians, by now very well known to us, ran to the exits with their medical bags. We thanked them for their assistance to our hostage relatives, and to us, and bid them farewell. In about 40minutes Valentina Matvienko ran into the gym, with Oleg Bocharov and many other headquarters officials. They were all very excited and happy. They stood before the microphone and the gym grew silent. Then sounded the words of their sweet lies: The assault went brilliantly! The terrorists are all dead! There are no casualties among the hostages! The gym applauded and yelled from happiness. Everyone thanked the government and the officials for saving their relatives and loved ones. They thanked the Lord God. Literally at that moment an entire retinue of priests ran into the gym, as if they knew in advance when their curtain call was. Right then a church service began and the gym fell upon its knees. Everyone cried out of happiness.

We did not know where to meet our relatives: whether to run outside or whether they would be brought here, or whether we would be brought to the theater building. Many questions were directed to headquarters.

At that moment, we were surprised to see our group of doctors making its way through the crowd to their earlier place. Their faces, despite the general jubilation, were far from merry.

I rushed over to them. Tatiana, it looks like the whole hall is dead! They all sit in the hall like corpses! They chased us out. They told us to go back to our places, because soon all of you would need our help.

I could not believe them, and we did not tell others this awful information. Even so, we did not leave. We waited for orders: where to go to meet our people.

Forty minutes later someone from headquarters went up to the microphone and said that there were casualties, but very few: two people had died. They said that all the injured had been taken to hospitals. Exactly which hospitals, well, that would be reported on lists a bit later. They said that there was nothing more to sit here for, and that we should as quickly as possible head home, where many of the rescued hostages were already waiting. Some buses arrived at the building, and offered to take us to the central hospitals where the former hostages had been taken. Many decided to go, thinking that if they did not find their relatives there, then they would be taken back there or to other hospitals. The people were mistaken. There was only one aim of the headquarters: to as soon as possible be done with the enraged and broken-hearted people who were already feeling forebodings. Everyone whom they took to the hospitals was unloaded and left in front of a new barricade, one that did not take notice of these people, would not answer their questions, or give out any information.

Like many others, Idecided not to panic before it was necessary: the headquarters was supposed to take care of us until the end, and to inform us where they had taken the hostages. Lists would periodically appear, but people soon understood that they had absolutely no relationship with reality. Sometimes one could find the same name in different hospitals. No one gave any explanation. After the assault they were openly rude and spoke curtly with us: we all had irritated them the entire time, and besides that, more and more people wanted to find out the truth about the brilliant assault.

The stories of the eyewitnesses began to circulate through the gym, and these described how hostages and those half-alive, and those closely resembling corpses were loaded in piles onto buses like firewood and taken Lord knows where. How no one saw any kind of operations supervisor for the rescue of the hostages. How the drivers of the buses loaded with casualties in horror asked each other if anyone remembered the address of some hospital wherever they thought necessary in order to be off with their terrible cargo.

Panic was clearly beginning in the PTU gymnasium. We remained there and waited for information. We still had not found the names of our son and his wife, and the black lists with the name of the dead had still not shown up.

We approached members of the headquarters staff who were still in the gym. I turned to a woman who stood in the center of the group. I was already in a half-comatose condition and so Icannot say exactly how it was. I believe that it was Valentina Matvienko, but perhaps Isin in accusing an innocent person, but Icannot forget or forgive the words of this woman even today. Several other broken-hearted people came up to her, and when Iasked her just one question: Will you tell us what we should do if we cannot find the name of our relatives on none of the lists? She answered this way: Woman, go home! Dont bother us! Really cant you see that its a holiday for us! And we will speak only of the living! We are not worrying about the dead today! Sit at home for three or four days. Wait! Maybe put an ad in the paper! And later you can go to the morgue! And with these words she even started to laugh!

At 5pm the simply chased all of us out of the PTU.

We went home. All night long we tried to call every hospital. No one would give out any information. Towards morning Sashas friends from Kazan phoned and said that they were able to find out that Sashas wife was alive and at Moscow City Hospital #13. Nothing yet was known about Sasha.

Near 10am on October 27th, 2002, we drove up to the gates of City Hospital #13. There was already a large crowd trying to find out if their relatives were in this hospital. They demanded lists, but no information was forthcoming. The police cordoned off the hospital, and there was no way to get past the gates. Later someone from hospital security explained to us that many had still not come to, and could not give their names. We offered the hospital administrators photographs of these people, so that they could determine their identity. They would not take photographs from us, and explained that no one would occupy himself with this! Only later, after several months had passed, did it occur to us that it had been to the benefit of the government to delay things as long as possible. They would not announce any lists of the dead and would not name the true number of loses in order not to spoil the fact of a brilliantly executed hostage rescue operation! But on that day, the people were tormented and indignant that anyone could treat them this way. Wedecided to find something out from the headquarters where Oleg Bocharov had gone, and so everyone decided to go back to the PTU building.

Arriving at the PTU, we found out the TV stations had started reporting the numbers killed at Dubrovka. At first it was 42. Literally 30minutes later it was known that there were 67dead. Later it was 84.

Renewed lists started to appear, but as before they were just a mess. People were indignant. Later the black lists appeared, with the names of the dead and the addresses of the morgues.

Many families could not find the names of the missing loved ones on the lists, and neither could we.

The relatives searches continued for several days. No one gave us any information. It is true that they gave us numbers to call to make inquiries, but no one answered any of our calls at these numbers. This is how Moscow did everything for us, for those who in those awful days practically lost the meaning of their own lives.

We found Sashas wife in City Hospital #13 on October 27th, 2002. She survived.

We found Sashas body in Morgue #10 at the Botkin Hospital during the day on October 27th, 2002. We found him this fast only because more than a hundred people were working the lists. Without their help our search would not have been possible.

Still, Iwould like to recall one episode.

My youngest son Ivan saw how in the foyer of the PTU building a man was detained by police officers. The man had a map of the Dubrovka region and a flashlight. He was clearly getting ready to enter the theater where the terrorists were holding the hostages. With cries of There he is! Grab him! they seized him and took him away, probably to the military headquarters, which was located on the premises of the Veterans Hospital. Ivan cannot confirm exactly, but it seems to him that it was Gennady Vlakh, whose photograph he later saw. A few hours after this man was detained in front of my son, Gennady Vlakh appeared in the theater, supposedly going there to search of his son who was among the hostages. The terrorists shot Gennady Vlakh.

Now it is hard to decide: did Ivan actually see Vlakh being detained? But, if this is so, then G.Vlakhs visit to the theater must have been known in advance and planned by headquarters.

Those who lost relatives and loved ones during the tragedy at Dubrovka later received new shocks. It was a shock when we were given death certificates bearing the diagnosis: victim of terrorism. A shock, when native Muscovites who had lived their entire lives in Russia had their citizenships crossed out because their corpses had no passports on them. A shock when the tenderhearted Moscow city government decided to give away free coffins, made out of fiberboard with the walls reinforced with staples burying someone in such coffins that would not even support the weight of a body was impossible. Itwas a shock when they gave out free memorial wreaths of such a quality that the city was too ashamed to attach to them a ribbon with the words: From the city of Moscow.

I wrote the above text myself.

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