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6.6. Description of events by D.E.Milovidov
Written by Administrator   
, 21 2006
On October 23rd, at 10:20 pm, Iwent to the theatrical center on Dubrovka to meet my two daughters 12year-old Lenochka and 14year-old Ninochka after the show. We also have a young son, who at the time was two and a half, so we could not go together as a family. A few days before the events Iam describing, my wife and Iwent to the show and left the girls to baby sit.

When Ileft the subway Isaw that the entrance to Dubrovkskaya #1, which leads up to the façade of the DK theatrical center building (the DK of Moscow Bearings) was blocked by highway patrol cars. In the distance Isaw that the crossroads with

Melnikov Street
was blocked by buses that were to bring spectators to the subway.

Going up to the barricades, Isaw that there was no light in the DK windows, and turned to a policeman for information. He suggested that Iwatch the news. To my cry of Where are my children?! who were to leave after the show, Iwas told that all the children were in the police vehicle and everything was alright. Iopened the doors of the van. At first Icould not make out my daughter. The Gazelle van was packed. Children sat on each others laps. Later Isaw my youngest daughter, and she told me what had happened.

When people with guns and wearing masks burst into the hall, she noticed that no plaster fell from the ceiling when they fired into the air. Blanks, she thought. Approaching the stage, the terrorists changed magazines and opened fire on the side door, and plaster began to fall. Now she understood that this was live ammo, and that the situation was serious. The captors went on stage and declared who they were and reported that everyone in the hall was a hostage, and that their aim was the end of the war in Chechnya. From the side door they dragged a refrigerator from the concession stand into the hall. The hostages were told that they could call their relatives and tell about what had happened. They carried into the hall a large bag that had a metal tank inside, and set it up by the center aisle on a seat right in front of where Ninochka and Lenochka were sitting.

After awhile a baby started crying in one of the front rows. The head of the terrorists offered to let all of the children sitting in the stalls come out onto the stage. Nina, as the oldest, led out Lena. The children formed a line. My oldest daughter seemed too old to them, and the sent her back into the hall. Lena was able to remember where she was sitting. The selected children were led out into the foyer where a woman joined them, with two small foreign children. On orders of a gunman the group went outside. At first the children did not know what to do, or where to go, or if someone would shoot them. Near the parking lot they were met by policemen and put into a van. They were kept for a time in a dangerous sector on Melnikov Street, subject to possible fire from the DK. Later the vehicle was moved to Dubrovskaya #1. Remembering Lenas words that she wanted to see the ending (of the play), she was tormented by the question: why had they not let her older sister go, since, after all, there was a 17year-old girl in the van? Ihad to calm her down, saying that it would be easier for Ninochka now that she only had to look after herself. I was hoping that soon they would let the rest of the children go. When Iasked: Do you want to go home? Lena answered that she would wait for her sister.

I walked away from this vehicle. Icalled home, but did not tell my wife (she was pregnant, and Icould not get her worked up), Isaid that we were detained: Theres a line at the coat check counter. Icalled friends and asked them to go there and make sure my wife did not turn on the television. I tried to find something out from the media correspondents who were continuing to arrive at the scene. At this time the barricades were moved and they ousted all the parents of the children in the van, who were also in the line of fire from the DK windows, but the van with the children remained in the danger zone for a long time afterwards. Later they took the children away in an undisclosed direction, but not along safe streets, but right across the line of fire in front of the DK. They told the children: Dont worry, your parents can just go to any policeman and find you right away. In reality, everything was much more complicated. The police were replaced by draftee soldiers who were not able to tell the parents or the press a thing. Icalled some friends with the license number of the van with the children, and after awhile Ifound out that the children had been taken to the nearest school. Insomuch as Iwas not acquainted with the region, Itried to find out its location from a highway patrolman, but it seems that reinforcements had been brought in from other regions. This crew had arrived from the Sergiev suburb (60 km from Moscow). Not far from the barricades they set up some portable toilets. The emergency situation stretched on, and soldiers from special operations units carrying sniper rifles passed through the barricades.

Friends joined the search, and they picked up my youngest daughter and brought warm clothes for her and I, and a cell phone to replace mine, which had gone dead. Between 2or 2:20 at night Ifinally found Lenochka, who was to be taken in for questioning (I note that the interrogation of young children took place without the presence of their parents). Iasked her if perhaps Ishould take her home right away. No, she said, she had something to do first, to tell everything; after all, this information could help her sister. A only after two hours, after studying the protocols of her interrogation, Iunderstood what condition she had been in then and had hidden behind her easygoingness. She had even mixed up her home phone number!

There were law enforcement officers in the school, who by now were not allowing anyone inside. When Iturned to them for fresh information, they explained to me that no one else had been brought in, that Ihad to go to the rehabilitation center that was set up on the premises of the nearby PTU (polytechnic school), where relatives of the hostages were to gather. Itried to go there, but did not know the region at all. Some colonel, who noticed my frozen appearance, let me though the cordon. When Icrossed the bridge at Dubrovskaya #1, suddenly Isaw that Iwas right across from the DK and its darkened windows. It was about 100120meters away. Iadded it up in my head: a 15-second run in heavy clothing, would they catch me or not? What stopped me? Istill had two children at home, and my daughter still had a chance of getting out. Ithought that if Iwere to die, it still would not help anyone. Diggers and soldiers on the other side of the barricades were opening manholes. It became clear to me that they were preparing an assault, but my trust was in the competence and professionalism of the special forces.

Near the PTU Isaw buses with people sitting on board, covered in blankets. Ithought that perhaps they were bringing out released hostages, and protecting them from the night chill. Later Ifound out that they were evacuation the sick from a nearby hospital. At the PTU building they sent me to the gymnasium, where the relatives of the hostages were starting to gather. They brought out chairs and tables from the classrooms, and in such a manner set up an area where the relatives could make up lists of hostages and their identifying characteristics and telephone numbers to call. That morning Moscow city prosecutor Avdyukov came to the gym. He reported that they were opening a criminal case (against the terrorists) for kidnapping, and in order to speed things up he asked the relatives to give testimony confirming that everything is out in the open, there is nothing to investigate, they (the terrorists were not hiding He also refuted information that more than a hundred (hostages) had been released.

A bit later some members of the acting troupe joined the relatives. They had been able to escape the captured DK through the storerooms. Forlocal television they talked about what they knew had been going on in the hall. Two television sets had been set up in the PTU gymnasium. All the information we received on what was going on around the DK and the progress of negotiations for the release of the hostages came from the media. The hostages relative received no official reports. The operational headquarters did not give out any information, either. From time to time the hostages managed to call their loved ones and report what was going on inside, but it was clear that the terrorists were controlling them. Whatever information anyone got was made available to all the hostages relatives the gym. There was a report of the hall being booby-trapped.

The hostages sent word about the necessity of holding a demonstration (a picket) by the DK under the motto of Say no to the war in Chechnya. All the relatives constructive offers of holding a fake demonstration since a real one could lead to large numbers also being taken hostage Deputy Mayor Roslyak answered with a refusal and the request to not interfere. Some of the people in the gym (whose bearing and ability to control themselves was visible on the epaulets of their uniforms) offered to organize the evacuation of unneeded vehicles from the square in front of the DK, but this was also met with refusal.

Doctors were looking after the condition of the hostages relatives. They provided assistance as needed, including psychological. Although the numbers in the gym kept increasing (hostages relatives from cities distant from Moscow began arriving), the psychologists found time to go around to everyone, to look them in the eyes, to talk to them, and if necessary to help them out of their stupor and talk them into taking a meal at a cafeteria set up in the building. Out of security reasons, [policemen made sure no one left any unattended belongings around thegym.

Inasmuch as the authorities never made a single official statement, everyone was disturbed by an official broadcast by the federal media that they were sending yet another division into Chechnya, allegedly to replace one pulling out forrest.

Towards evening the people who were helping the hostages relatives (these were, in part, the vice speaker of the Moscow city assembly, V.Bochkarov, and the deputy mayor, Roslyak) said that in order to speed up the release of children, that the relatives needed to present their documents (birth certificates), which confirmed the childrens ages.

Late at night, figuring that there would be no moves to release the hostages until morning, Idrove home for documents and warm clothing for my daughter. The police guarding the hall, to ensure no unauthorized persons entered (in part, the media), explained that in order to get back in Iwas to give the hostage's number on the list and show my passport.

Early on the morning of October 25th I saw a crowd of people in front of the rehabilitation center, wrangling with the police. The hostages relatives from other cities who had just arrived in Moscow had to explain why they were only just now finding out that their loved ones had been taken hostage. The number Ihad been given the previous day did not correspond to my daughters name, i.e.: the hostage list had been increased by a considerable extent. When they asked why Iwas trying to get in there, Ihad to select an answer that would give the policeman no other choice: For questioning at the request of Moscow prosecutor Avdyukov. But, Ihave to note, the police officers related to the situation with understanding and the victims all conducted themselves correctly. A man in a jogging suit, who for three days never left the PTU, participated in solving conflicts. He solved the problem of providing the hostages relatives with whatever they needed. I later found out that he was a colonel in theMChS.

It was so crowded that one could not shove their way through the gymnasium. Leonid Roshal, just arrived from the captured building, spoke before the hostages relatives. He calmed down the relatives, and made clear that the terrorists were not using narcotics and things were perfectly adequate. He reported also that there were about 20children in the hall. It later turned out that he only looked at people on the first floor. The relatives tried to find out the condition of their loved ones condition by describing them to Roshal.

After he left, we got information by cell phone from the hostages about the necessity of holding a demonstration on Red Square at noon. In the PTU people found materials to make signs rolls of wallpaper. A representative from the headquarters promised to organize a limited group of people and put them on a bus. At the height of our preparations Valentina Matvienko showed up and she tried to put the brakes on the endeavor with her patriotic speeches. Her rude official tone only added fuel to the fire, however. She, whom the government protects many times better than the average citizen, was asked many uncomfortable questions. When it became clear that the promise to organize transportation to the demonstration was a lie, then some of the relatives went to Red Square on their own. Many of those who remained behind went outside in front of the PTU and asked the cameramen from various TV stations to film their picket line and as quickly as possible put it on the air. Some outsiders got into the picket line, carrying their own signs that had nothing in common with those of the hostages relatives. We pulled these characters out of the demonstration and handed them over to the police with a request that they get to the bottom of things. In such a way we managed to avoid provocations and excesses.

I handed Ninochkas documents into the local headquarters at the rehabilitation center, where they made Xeroxes. Ialso asked if Icould clarify the data on my daughters age on the general list (at first it stated under identifying characteristics that she looks like 16, and this had been entered under age by mistake). While they were changing the information on the computer in front of me, Icounted more than 10different variations of the general list, which had been made since the moment of the hostage seizure. A little later at the headquarters an unidentified man reported that children probably were not being released because one of the relatives had faked a birth certificate.

In the gym they held a small assembly where the relatives selected a coordinating council assigned to work together with the headquarters of the rehabilitation center in solving problems. A representative was also selected for communicate with the operational headquarters in such a manner. A city telephone lines were set up in the gym, and only the people from other cities had difficulties because of not being able to contact their loved ones at home. However, their neighbors in distress helped them by offering to let them use their cell phones. The problem of finding rooms in nearby hotels for those arriving from out of town was also solved in such a manner.

Hope sprang up among the relatives after the Russian president gave a speech on the priority of rescuing people. One of the television stations broadcast a story about the hostage rescue operation at the Japanese in Peru, which lasted an entire month. It turned out that they were preparing the public psychologically for a long siege. Compared to the previous day, they situation in the gymnasium worsened distinctly. As a result of the large number of people, it was difficult for physicians to provide assistance. Because of the congestion, every hour we had to go outside to air out thegym.

Close to evening (at about 5pm) there was information that actors from the musicals troupe were gathering for a demonstration of support for the hostages on Dubrovskaya #1. Special passes were distributed among the hostages relatives to simplify their passage into the PTU building.

I was worried about the condition of my wife, son, and rescued daughter, and so the best Icould do for my neighbors in distress was to make more room for them. Leaving a bag of daughters things in the storage room organized in the PTU, late at night Idrovehome.

The city lived is usual life, as if our misfortune did not matter to anyone.

On the night of October 26th my wife and Iawakened at the same time as if something had shaken us. For a long time we tried to understand what had awakened us. At about 7am we received a call friends reported that there had been information on television about a successful assault, it had been reported that all the hostages were free and there were no casualties. After awhile there were reports that certain hospitals were receiving the former hostages. They even reported the telephone number of the headquarters that one could call and name the hostages number on the list and supposedly find out their location. Understanding that there was no reason to drive to the PTU, since the 4telephones there were insufficient for hundreds of people, friends and Icalled hospitals from our home phones. Simultaneously, we asked all our relatives and friends to stop calling with questions about Ninochkas condition, which we could not answer. We waited for a call from out rescued daughter.

It was impossible to call headquarters. Calls to the hospitals left us bewildered a majority of the hospitals that the federal television stations had reported never received any hostages! When Imanaged to telephone headquarters, they asked me to call back later and gave me a few other hospital numbers. All answered the same: No children were brought in. The Filatov and Saint Vladimir childrens hospitals both denied that a child resembling our daughter had been brought in. Isuspected that she could have been mistaken for an adult and taken to a regular hospital. At about 10am my wife felt an awful premonition, like the severing of the invisible connection between a mother and her firstborn, her primary helper, and friend.

The first reports about casualties started being broadcast on television. Interior Ministry Secretary Vasilev reported, however, that no children died, and gave information about the use of the special substance. The media reported that the headquarters was organizing the transport of the relatives to rescued hostages to various hospitals. At the hospitals they convinced us to await new information, explaining that many of the former hostages, especially the children, after the gas attack had still not come around, and were still in a semi-conscious state and did not have the strength to give the doctors their personaldata.

Friends reported that there were no children resembling out daughter among the hostages with gunshot wounds. In the evening Idrove out to the PTU, where, according to the media, there was hanging a complete list of hostages with their conditions and the hospitals where they could be located. There was a list, but after a quick glance Idetermined that the number of people on it was a lot less than what Ihad seen on lists hanging in the PTU the night before the assault. It hit me that many were shown to be in critical condition, dead

Another day, on October 27th, we prepared photographs of our daughter, and on advice of friends we made a list of her identifying features and added to the text on the sheets of paper with the photographs. Ihung up one such sheet in the headquarters alongside other photographs of the missing without a trace. Officers from the prosecutors office took another to the school where they had questioned my youngest daughter. None of the dead children whom they described to me resembled my daughter. I was advised to wait until photographs of the dead were taken to headquarters.

I took my wife to the PTU, where teams of psychiatrists continued to assist the hostages relatives. At this same time the directors of the headquarters at the rehabilitation center tried to use various pretexts to clear the gym of relatives who did not intend to go anywhere or call any hospitals. A list of morgues appeared on the entrance of the PTU.

On October 28th at half-past 12we received a call at home. A psychiatrist, who had consulted with us at the PTU, reported that some photographs had finally shown up at headquarters.

Friends talked us out of going there right away to identify her. As Ilearned later, one of our friends, using his service identification, had gone from morgue to morgue in the early hours and had identifiedNina.

In the morning, we drove to the morgue he indicated to us. At the door, a morgue worker told us that there are no children here, and that the number we had was a woman of 2025years of age. We asked them to show us a photograph. A girl who had entered the morgue looking for a friend gave a sigh of relief: Its not her! and happily ran outside. But my wife identified Ninochka.

A father rarely sees his child asleep. Therefore, it was very hard for me to conclude from the photograph, or even BELIEVE it. Iasked to see the body. She was under a light-blue sheet, and only her face and the fingers of her hands were visible. They did not allow me to look, they just told me to give a description and leave. Some marks an old dog bite, for example, and cuts on her leg, were not corroborated. On a repeat examination Iasked them to move her hair and uncover her forehead, and Isaw a familiar birthmark. I also noted severe swelling under her nose, and that her hands were swollen and almostblack.

While filling out the burial documents Ihad to cope with the fact that bodies were released only in order of last name, and we were not able to bury out daughter until October 31st.

I wrote the above text by myself.

 
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