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APPENDIX 28. Articles in the mass media
Written by Administrator   
Ïÿòíèöà, 29 Äåêàáðü 2006

28.1. Any negotiations are justified

…Says the Israeli specialist

From Moscow Komsomolets”

By Mark Deich, October 24th, 2002

Mark Deich telephoned Yakov Kedmi – the recent former director of one of the Israeli secret services.  Yakov Kedmi has taken part in joint anti-terror exercises with Russia, and in particular during the hijacking of a Russian passenger plane from Mineralny Vody to Israel.  Now Mr. Kedmi is following the latest developments with the (theater hostage) situation in Moscow by television.

What does Israel think of the mass hostage seizure in Russia’s capital?

Israel is in full solidarity with the hostages.  It all reminds us of what we in Israel have been facing continuously.  It’s true, however, that there’s a big difference between the terrorists that are active in Russia and Israel.  In Russia, terrorism is connected with overt criminal activities, while our terrorism is exclusively political.  In Israel, hostages aren’t taken for ransom; people aren’t for sale.  The terrorists you have today could be involved in rackets and extortion tomorrow.  Our terrorists aren’t into the rackets.”

In your view, what do you think the Russian secret services should do next?

“In general, it’s a typical situation.  The only difference is the number of hostages.  It seems to be that what has happened in Moscow is a result of how in Russia a large number of people know how to use guns.  The various armed groups that are called commercial security firms.  There’s not always a clear difference between these firms and those whom they are supposed to guard against.  This explains how easy it was for the Moscow terrorists to take such a large number of people hostage.

The main thing that the Russian special services should do, I think, is to try and save as many people as possible.  The use of force is possible and necessary, but only in the case of a clear threat to the lives of the hostages.  Until this danger appears, or until the time that the terrorists begin to kill hostages, the decision to storm (the theater), or the decision to use force won’t be made, in my opinion.”

Isn’t this contradictory?  The American conception (of anti-terrorism operations) is that you don’t negotiate with terrorists.  How can you save the hostages’ lives without having some type of negations with them?

“That opinion is a mistake.  I don’t know of a single situation where the special services didn’t negotiate with terrorists, if hostages were in grave danger.  Any negotiations are justified, if you are talking about innocent people.  The other question is – will the terrorists give up under the pressure?  But there was never a refusal to negotiate, ever.”

The terrorists’ demand is that Russian forces be removed from Chechnya. Even if the Russia leadership gives into their demand, such a move can’t be accomplished in a day.  Would the terrorists wait?

“In reality, the terrorist’ demands are not obvious.  We don’t even know what and how they are armed.  Well, automatic weapons, that’s clear.  Supposedly they are hanging some kind of explosives on the walls.  Whether these explosives real or fake is not clear.  They are wearing suicide belts.  Are these real, or also imitations?  The real aims of the terrorists right now are unclear.  There are these possibilities: a show of force, supposedly to demonstrate if the authorities would hold out until the most terrible finale.  The special services should be ready for any turn of events, optimistic or tragic.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated that Israel was ready to render any type of aid to Russia in this complicated situation.  That is, of course, if needed.  Israel more than once has offered such help to Russia in similar situations.  As far as I know, however, the Russian leadership has always turned down such help.  Will this happen with Mr. Sharon’s offer as well?

“I wouldn’t be so categorically sure that such assistance was refused in the past.  Unfortunately, I can’t say much more about this.

I don’t believe that the Israeli special services, who have much more experience in anti-terrorism operations, in the given, complicated situation in Moscow, would do much better that their Russian colleagues.  We could help in one of three ways: sharing our experience, technology, and any information connected with the direct participants in this act of terrorism.  Chechen terrorists have more than a few representatives from the Middle East in their ranks.  Besides this, we have sufficient experience with many specific problems: how to enter a building held by terrorists, then how to liquidate them and free the hostages.  In short, what will be done (in Moscow) differs very little.  I would guess that my Russian colleagues also have a bit of experience in solving such problems, and so I doubt that the Russian special services need the Israelis to take part in this operation.”

The terrorists are threatening, that if one of them are killed, that they will shoot ten hostages.  What should be done in such a situation?

“If they threaten this in response to attempts to liquidate one of them, this merely proves the thesis: until the situation is hopeless, there should be no attempt to use force.  They aren’t threatening to kill the hostages if their demands are not met.  While the hostages’ blood hasn’t been spilled, force is not only senseless, but it is contrary to all the rules of fighting terrorism.”

This action, in your opinion, does it fit in with the recent events throughout the world?

“Unfortunately, it does fit in.  It proves the prediction that the 21st century will be the ‘Century of Terror’.  This is a universal calamity, especially Islamic terrorism, is fused to crime.  Today it is not just a problem in Russia, not just in the US and Israel, but everywhere.  The solution to this problem is through preventative measures and the complete crushing of terror, including the physical destruction of all terrorists.”

What do you mean by preventative measures?

“Not giving the terrorists the ability to establish bases where they can train and practice.  This is what is going on right know in the Pankissky Gorge (in Georgia), and in regions adjacent to Israel, for example, in Lebanon, and what existed in Afghanistan until recently.  Besides this, it is necessary that only governmental agencies in a nation have access to weapons.  In the framework of a civilized nation, it is impermissible for there to be organizations allowed to use weapons, other than the government.”

But in several nations, in the US, for example, weapons are freely sold…

“Sooner or later the Americans will have to make a decision: either the free sale of weapons, or the spread of terror – political, religious, and criminal.  Besides, in the modern world it’s not a matter of weapons in the general sense.  It’s also about all diseases that can be created in the lab.”

Let’s return to the subject of Moscow.  Outside of what you know about the situation, is it possible, in your view, that there will be a peaceful outcome?  Or, as a specialist, do you guess that there will be a bloody ending?

“At the moment the situation is such that, it seems to me, that there may not be bloodshed.  For now all the data shows that it is a political act, made possible through terror, and that it won’t lead to bloodshed.  But whenever we have dealings with such unbalanced people, who have no moral foundations, this can change in a second.”

28.2.       The Russian secret service has no agents in the Caucasus

From “Izvestiya”, Evgeny Krutikov, October 25th, 2002

Let’s be honest: even the most professional secret service cannot control a huge city in its entirety, let alone such a huge country.  You could place five officers with assault rifles in every theater, turning Moscow into a besieged fortress, but it would not prevent people from being taken hostage, and this measure would certainly get on the nerves of the average Russian.  They would glance at the machine-gunners at the entrance of, say, ‘Notre Dam’, and shudder – their safety has been placed in doubt.

Russians lost their feeling of protection back in the autumn of 1999, after the apartment blasts.  In principle, nothing new, from a psychological standpoint, has happened.  But such a psychological justification is evident in the reaction of the special services to the latest terrorist attack. According to our data, by 7 am after the night of the hostages’ seizure there were 4 (!) operational headquarters set up at Dubrovka.  It is not a case of the left leg not knowing what the right leg is up to, but some kind of a multi-armed Shiva goddess who cannot control even one of her extremities.    Each newly arriving general at the cordon has contrived to create his own operational staff and start negotiating again.  Just who else has contrived to hold negotiations with the terrorists?  Russian parliamentary delegates, and even city council representative Platonov — whose main occupation should be, logically, speaking with the worried Moscow residents, people whose panic rather quickly changed to a general anti-Caucasus aggressive crowd mentality, which I have become personally acquainted with.  The events are unfolding under the dictation of the terrorists, whose nerve is also limited.  The bewilderment of the special services has changed to feverish activity, and one of its main motivations is the generals’ fear for their own hides.  Therefore, a large number of these “negotiators” have nodded to the press, which allegedly bothers the regular work of the special services.

Less than anything, we are not inclined to curse the Russian special services.  We will repeat this: to place a machine-gunner in every building in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and still a dozen other cities, is impossible, and useless.  We recommend that conversations about how the special services have still not caught Basayev and company be saved for the kitchens of intellectuals.  Everything is just not that easy, and, besides, there is another, more real aspect of it all.

After the Moscow apartment blasts, the principle problem of the fight against terror was raised: when should one occupy oneself with terrorists – after the terrorist attack, or before it?  Four operational headquarters, confusion of command and a general bewilderment – all this appeared after the terrorist attack.  How to free the hostages who are being held in the booby-trapped building is a technical question, and one for slightly different operational personnel.  Our question is another.  Such a large-scale operation, such as the seizure of ‘Nord-Ost’, was not prepared in a single week, and in isolation.  This means that there SHOULD be information leaks.  Not in the form notes on (FSB chief) Patrushev’s desk, which read: “I report that on October 23rd a unit of Movsar Barayev-Suleimenov will seize the building at Dubrovka,” but in a general form, “something big is going on”.  Something similar happened at the (US) FBI before the events of September 11th. Upon receiving such a hint, it would follow that agents would be activated for work not just in Chechnya, but in Arab nations as well. 

The public demands to know how 50 heavily armed Chechens were able to move about Moscow.  It is an absurd question.  It is the simplest: rent a pair of garages for far from the object of the attack, bring all members of the group into Moscow one at a time and along different routes, buy a couple or three tickets to ‘Nord-Ost’, check out the premises, buy weapons somewhere in Stavropol, and it is a done deal.  But in order to think up the entire operation and to keep it all a secret – that is a real problem for terrorists, and one that they have solved.

One really wishes to believe that the secret services did not receive any warning about the preparation of a large terrorist attack in a Russian city.  Then their bewilderment (like the bewilderment of the CIA after September 11th) would be understandable.  True, then one has to admit that there is no intelligence gathering apparatus in Chechnya whatsoever, while the resident agents in the eastern countries have given themselves up to the eastern languor.

The matter of agents in Chechnya and Georgia is a bad one – the countries are difficult for field intelligence work, and area specialists can be counted on the fingers of one hand, while the counter-intelligence climate is completely poisonous.  For one thing, the continuous squabbling between the “Russian Chechens” does not add to the ease of being a counter-intelligence agent, but something in this regard is getting done anyway, right?

If there was no warning, then it is a true failure of counter-intelligence, a system failure, on which our special services fallen more than once, and who do not even learn from their own tragic mistakes.

28.3. The war must stop!

From “Moscow Truth”, October 26th, 2002

Our colleagues Anna Andrianova and Zhanna Tolstova are among the hostages on Melnikov Street, and have stated that there is a mass disinformation campaign against the public going on in the media.

Yesterday once again we were in contact with Anya – she is the only one allowed to use the phone and pass on the terrorists’ demands.  According to her, in the media’s broadcasts there is a specific political undertone.

“We are afraid.  We can only hear the radio, but the receiver is not very loud, and we don’t know which station it is.  The main thing is that everywhere there is ‘deza’ (disinformation).  They all talk about how we are drinking, how we’re being fed, what we’re being fed, if they are taking us to the toilet or not.  Taking us…  Well, it’s understandable that these aren’t domestic conditions!  But we are suffering because we are worried for our lives, and not because of the food.  It is cynical to discuss the quality of the food in such a situation – anyway, one can go a few days without eating.  Especially since everything is really so intellectual.  But for some reason we’ll say one thing in an interview, and then 15 minutes later the journalists broadcast on the air something completely different!  For example, we wrote a message to Putin completely voluntarily, but later we heard that there was some kind of pressure.”

Among the hostages is a doctor, and Anya says that he thinks that people are suffering most of all from the stressful situation.

“Because nothing is being done for our rescue,” Anya pronounces these words quietly into the telephone.  “With such background stress people’s chronic health problems get worse: cardio-circulatory, gastro-intestinal, and other problems.”

For now there have been no hypertonic crises, but the people’s blood pressure, naturally, has jumped.  There are also some women in the later stages of pregnancy, and for them it is insanely difficult.

“Someone said that they can clearly see ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ on us.  Well, do people really not understand that such information can make us seem inadequate in the public’s view, and justify in the end any action?”

Our girls say to let the people go out into the streets, because the “probability that we are going to get blown up is great, the situation is rather frightful.”

“Really, no one needs war, neither subjectively or objectively.  Objectively, because people are destroyed in war.  Subjectively, because we could be destroyed.  We see that the solution to the problem lies in the Russian people going out and saying that they don’t need this war.  Not just the relatives need to do this, but all the rest of the people.  Everyone has children, they all have to go to school and kindergarten, but we can never cease worrying about our children, our relatives, and our loved ones!”

Anya and Zhanna also said that if Masha Shkolnikova not made contact, then the inaction of our special services would have stopped a bit earlier:

“We are dying of fright.  From inaction.  We can’t sleep.  But the media reports that some of us our being beaten, that some are fed and some are not fed, that there are a thousand of us, that there are five hundred.  It’s obvious that they want to minimize us, to talk about harsh treatment and save us before death.  The patience of these people can come to an end, and they will take things all the way to the end.

“On the first night is was awful, but it got a little easier later – a faint glimmer of hope flashed by.  The journalists have once again started to lie, and so hope has faded.  And so it is, all the time…

“The situation is very complicated.  Colleagues!  If you can’t help us, well, at least don’t do anything stupid!”

28.4. Operation Cover-up

From “Moscow Truth”, Nikolai Petrov, October 26th, 2002

The story of the hostages is hilarious.  To the point of tears, to the point of hysterical laughter, to the point of beating one’s fists against the wall.  It’s the laughter of impotence, the laughter of pain, the laughter of sympathy, the laughter of not understanding what went on.

I must confess honestly that I feel sincerely sorry for those people who had to decide the fates of those children, women, and men who had fallen into misfortune…  It is impossible to imagine how difficult it must be to solve what is in principle an unsolvable problem: to tear all the hostages from the claws of the terrorists whose strength lies in the barrels of automatic weapons and explosives, and whose weakness is in their impossible demands. 

But I find it funny to listen to the shining bureaucrats, and look upon the police and armed forces members, as well as the other “masters” of this world, filling up the television airwaves and with authority discussing the “extremely difficult situation”.  The feeling remains with me, that everyone without exception is playing some type of special, officially sanctioned, game of chance.  Even a name comes to mind: something along the lines of “Cover your ass” or “Raise your ratings”.  You can do this by means of a shooting gallery.  The elections are just ahead, sirs?  Is that the explanation?

It is too bad that the leaders of the armed forces and police are not able to organize a more literate presentation of the events.  It is bad when journalists have to creep about and slither into the scene of the crime, with the help of deceit and bribery carry out their professional duties, tormenting the people taking part in the operation with their whining and threats.  The result of such “work” is clear: inhumane “exclusives”, discrepancies, disinformation, and what is dangerous for the hostages and crippling to the military and police, information about their preparations for an assault.

It turned out, that building number seven on  Melnikov Street contains two of our colleagues – Anna Andrianova and Zhanna Tolstova.  Anya is maintaining continuous communications with her editor, reporting the demands of the terrorists and – sometimes – her own observations.  Do you know who the hostages blame for the fact that their children were not released?  The television people.  When the terrorists saw that TV station NTV aired a broadcast from the building “without sound”, they decided not to let go the group of children that was being readied for release.  Whose fault it is, is not hard to guess.  The report had gone through the counter-intelligence censors.  Our dear Chekists, do not destroy the children!  They could have been free last night.

I will not talk about the criminally undesirable law enforcement organs that cooperate with the media editors, who have very important information not meant for the average citizen, but for the authorities.  In the collective opinion of Moscow Truth, the information Anya gets from “wherever” should summon a special interest.  It is strange, but for now it seems only to be important to us here.

Many colleagues at Moscow Truth had to put aside their work on the upcoming edition to act as middlemen between the bandits and those people with whom they were ready to negotiate.  Here the journalists at Moscow Truth collided with the bureaucratic machine, which is fit only for peacetime.  

But now we are at war.  War between the community and terror.  Where did this wall of misunderstanding come from?  Really, are we not on the same side?  Or, perhaps, do we differ as to the desired outcomes?  WE wish to see LIVING people, how about YOU?  Why will the Moscow police not give us the number for the operational headquarters, so that our hostage colleague from Moscow Truth can pass on the terrorists’ demands?!  Why is a worker from the information department of the Moscow police unable to connect us with her supervisors?  Answer us!

Perhaps the answer will be transmitted to Evgeny Maksimovich Primakov’s receiver.  He, according to Anya, was ready to talk with Movsar Barayev…  Reader, you will not believe this, but an aide to the parliamentary delegate dryly asked for Anna’s cell phone number: well, I call her back and tell her what she needs!  I am ashamed for Evgeny Maksimovich’s team.  I remember that Anya and hundreds of other unfortunates are sitting next to bombs and under the barrels of automatic rifles!  One can with certainty guess that it was not out of spiritual malice that the hostages tore Primakov from the steering wheel of the governmental machine.

It is good that not all bureaucrats will compromise with their consciences, thinking about their ratings and their own importance.  When the terrorists once again through Anya, and Anya through us, expressed the desire to communicate with the former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, he did not relate to us as he would with journalists, but as citizens of the nation, and, sorting the situation out, expressed a readiness to participate in the complicated negotiations.  Even if in the end it turns out to be another bit of posturing for the cameras, it is more humane than bureaucratic dryness.

It is frightening and offensive.  While the bureaucrats and soldiers and police play according to their rules, hundreds of hostages have for three days been on the edge of life and death.  For the statesmen, however, they have ceased to be people — they have been transformed into human units.

28.5. “I was only brining water”

A special report from the operational headquarters and at the theater taken hostage by the terrorists

From “Novaya Gazeta

By Roman Shleinov, October 28th, 2002 

Friday, October 25th, at the operational headquarters.  I have been here for two days.  At first it was rather simple to come and go, but today they thought up a pass system. A pass is shown on entering and exiting, but that was towards evening, so for now the secretariat’s door is guarded by FSO (the Federal Protective Service, stocky men in civilian clothes) and you cannot ask questions.  The secretariat is composed of civilians who sometimes do things faster and better than those who are appointed to do it, such as Yuri Luzhkov and Sergey Yastrzhembsky…

A pair in camouflage barricaded the corridor leading to the FSB HQ with a couch.  Now you cannot get in.  It is a fully understandable security measure, but a bit late.

Despite all of the precautions, the police officer had a more open plan of attack – he paid more attention to the license numbers and makes of the automobiles that he was getting ready to pull over, and these could be seen from afar.

Until the HQ had yet to start its pass system, there were a lot of interesting characters showing up there.  A gray-haired, completely naïve Cossack general in a real army uniform, accompanied by an active lady in fur, who told the staff that he had to but “say two words to the terrorists and the whole problem would be solved”.  Clearly, those manning the cordon feared the general’s epaulets and let him in without asking to see his documents.

By the way, a huge multitude of people who supported simple decisions and explanations showed up during those days.  There was little difference between the crazy inventors (one of whom for some reason called me on the cell phone with an offer to end everything momentarily), and those bureaucrats who put the ideological machine into high gear in order to blame it all on worldwide terrorism, while somehow forgetting how and why worldwide terrorism all got started.  These naïve lovers of simple decisions on both sides of the barricades are very similar to each other.  Judge yourself from the slogans: “Let’s take Russians hostage and end the war”, versus “Let’s kill more Chechens, and the war will be over”. 

Here, for example, running from office to office is Zdanovich, a speechwriter for the FSB.  Instead of hot and cold, he has propaganda and ideological settings.  He pricked up his ears on hearing that our correspondent Anna Politkovskaya has arrived at Sheremetevo-2 airport.  The terrorists had demanded that she come and act as a negotiator.  Only the Lord knows what we can expect from Zdanovich.

Politkovskaya arrived.  The FSB representative, who not ago confirmed that they were waiting for her at HQ, has started to try to persuade us that none of the terrorists asked for her, since the authorities would find it nice to be rid of her.

The dynamic Sergey Yastrzhembsky saved the situation.  The confirmed the idea of negotiations, and the FSB representative (one must give him his due, he was courteous and patient) has disappeared from sight.  An hour and a half was wasted on all of this.

Various agencies are in various rooms, and have various approaches and a noticeable amount of competition: Federal Security, Interior Ministry, and Ministry of Defense.

“There goes an ‘Alphonse’ greyhound,” said one of the headquarters security staff.  He mumbled this to his subordinates while indicating a colleague from Anti-terrorism Directorate ‘A’.  (‘Alphonse’ is Russian slang for a gigolo – trans.)   The gray-clad ‘Alpha’ team member had left HQ for some air without showing his pass.

After her talks with the bandits, Politkovskaya reported that they would allow water and juices to be brought into the theater hall.  She entered HQ accompanied by a machine gunner, which was shouted at.  “Were are you taking her, I said over here,” thundered some bureaucrat from his office.

“I’m following orders,” answered the escort. 

“Yeah?  And who are you?” The official did not quiet down.  But then someone more important came out and solved the conflict to his own benefit.  The various sub-departments would not share the negotiator.

They organized the water comparatively fast, but not a lot of it.  The terrorists only would allow Politkovskaya, a Red Cross worker, and me to carry it all from the barricades, where it was delivered by several trucks, through the ‘neutral’ territory to the theater building.

They allowed the Red Cross worker because they were used to them in Chechnya.  They allowed me because as a journalist I do not make people suspicious (or at least, at first I thought so).

The candidates agreed, grabbed some water, and walked to the square in front of the theater, but from the wall of a nearby house came a man in black camouflage with a rifle, who decisively intersected our line of movement: “Who are you and where are you going?”

Indecisively we looked to the plainclothes officer who was escorting us.

“It’s all taken care of, let them through.”

“No, I haven’t gotten confirmation from higher up,” insisted the man with the rifle.

“I’m from ‘Alpha’, it’s all taken care of,” said are escort in bewilderment.

“I don’t care if you’re from ‘Pennant’ (another elite SWAT group), it don’t mean a thing.”

And so we stood for ten minutes while the coordination dragged on, and one special service slowly figured out what the other was doing.

In the area in front of the theater, which the day before had become a neutral zone, separating the terrorists and hostages from the rest of Moscow, stood a lot of light vehicles.  Among them were the abandoned minibuses that the gunmen came in.  The doors stood open, and there was something in camouflage on the seats.  The witness who saw them arrived was right: they drive right in, not hidden, right up to the main entrance.  Judging from everything, they exited the vehicles and right away chased everyone they met up the steps.  A coat that an employee had not managed to hang up lay on the counter on the first floor.

We went past the coat checkroom, turned left at the stairway and stopped.  “Hey, we’re here!”

Two men with assault rifles came down from the second floor.  At first they seemed to me to be high school children.  They asked who we were.  They demanded that we show our ID cards.  One was very nervous.  He had donned his mask in a hurry, and it was crooked.  He was dressed unimpressively: worn-out shoes, and some type of cheap, poorly fitting children’s jogging suit.  Unimpressive, had it not been for the mask and wide belt full of grenades. 

The other, who did not wear a mask, was more decisive.  He was dressed all in camouflage, but had sort of an innocent expression on his face.  He quickly scanned our ID cards and asked why a Red Cross representative wasn’t wearing a Red Cross lapel pin.  We had the impression that he was the last link and was not allowed to act independently.  If something were to happen, he probably would not even allowed to shoot.  He turned out to be Barayev – the head of the terrorists.

Putting the water and juice down by the stairs, we then returned to the vestibule.  It was obvious that the terrorists’ nerves were shot.  They were suspicious to the point of paranoia.  They would only accept water and juice, and only in factory packaging.  “To make sure the FSB didn’t lace it with anything.”  They insisted that the Red Cross representative open one up and take a few swallows.  Getting some people to help carry the water and juice was out of the question.  A decisive: ‘No’.  They refused the offer of food, not even yogurt.

And so we were prepared to cross the neutral zone and enter the theater a few more times.

When we got back to the operational headquarters, it turned out that the rest of the juice and water was gone.  We waited until dark.  Finally a truck came, and we put the juice on a medical gurney, which was wet from the rain, and returned to the theater once again.

On the second or third time we were met at the stairs by two different terrorists, young fellows like before, with automatic weapons, and in camouflage and masks, but more serious.  One of them, wearing gloves, held a grenade demonstratively, with the pin around his thumb.  They brought out a few hostages to unload the gurney and carry the beverages upstairs.

I do not know what these two found suspicious in me (perhaps because I would not make eye contact), but one demanded that I go over to him.  He asked if I was from the FSB, and searched me just in case. 

“That’s all.  Let’s go.”

When we returned from the barricades and headed to the operational headquarters, once again the guards would not recognize us, once again we had to stand around.  For show.

While we were waiting, a well-dressed Chechen woman came up to Politkovskaya and said that she was the wife of Boroda (‘Beard’, a well-known Chechen field commander).  “How did this Chechen get here?!” a radio loudly crackled.  It was truly strange, since a couple of hours ago they had grabbed a middle-aged man who had said he was a relative of a hostage.  “Ah-ha, yesterday he was a retired FSB colonel,” the men in uniform.  “Send him out of here and don’t let him through anymore,” someone ordered.

Why do I remember all this?  Well, because during the day some student was brought in he had climbed over the fence.  Evidently they wanted to question him, since they were frequently saying that the gunmen might have coordinators on the outside.  It was a mystery: why had they brought the student into the headquarters, while another unknown person was allowed through without a problem.  No suspicion at all, just according to some principle that was unknown to me.

O course, these questions do not relate to those officers in the various detachments of the special services, who risked their lives.  But they relate to the people from the FSB’s anti-terror center, to director of interior affairs Vladimir Vasilev, to presidential aid Sergey Yastrzhembsky, who did all that they could.  It is just that they live alongside other people, men in camouflage who are unpredictable and incapable of coordination, generals and men without discernable rank, who create chaos and muddle, and hostility between the armed forces and police.

And perhaps because now you are reading this text and still do not know the real numbers of the dead, more and more questions arise.  And they will not be answered.  But there will be consequences.

28.6. Hell on Wheels

An “MK” correspondent and doctors saved hostages

From Moscow Komsomolets”

By Dmitry Kafanov, October 28th, 2002

Just as soon as I get information that the terrorists had been neutralized, I go over to the buses that were standing ready: “Hey guys! Take me with you!” One of the drivers is suspicious, but the rest say okay…

The patrol cop hysterically waving his arms on the other side of the barricades lets us in.  Around the theater façade stand dozens of ambulances with flashing lights.  They start to bring out living hostages, and carry out bodies.  Arms and legs waggle involuntarily, and the bodies are half naked…

The nerve-wracking situation gets worse with every passing second.

“What are you standing around for?!” shouts a cop to our driver.  “Come on, load up!”

A woman in an ambulance uniform jumps into our vehicle and yells at me: “Go help!”  Together with the rest I begin to drag hostages into the bus.  The first one is a girl with long hair a vacant stare.

“What’s your name?”

She blinks, and does not understand a thing.  I pinch her cheeks: “Breathe!  Breathe deep!”  The girl nods and I put her in the rear seat.  The next are unconscious.  I do not know why, but for some reason the women have lost practically all their outer clothing.

Olya, an ambulance medic who they stick on our bus, is constantly trying to hurry the MChS (emergencies ministry) workers and policemen: “Faster, faster or we won't make it.”

We are off.  The bus starts to work its way through the congestion of special-mission vehicles.  Olya and I do not have time to look around.

“Stop!  That one’s already cold, you won’t get anything out of him…  What are you, a reporter?” she unexpectedly guesses.

There is no time to clarify our relationships.  We are dashing between the unconscious people lying on the floor, throwing ourselves on one after another, doing indirect cardiac massage and artificial respiration.  Two men in the front are in bad shape.  We beat on them for five minutes.  I hammer one of them on the face with all my might: “Breathe, you reptile!  Come on, breathe, darling!”

He breathed, and even blinked.   While we were working on him, a man in the rear has died.

Vasily, our driver, at first was still stopping for traffic lights.

“To Hell with them!” I yell to him.  “Honk and go!”

And he does.

I count the people in the bus as I walk past them: 22.  We are physically incapable of helping all of them.  Olya is almost in tears: “The medicine case is still on the ambulance.  All we’ve got is the first aid kit from the bus.”  A thin girl, about twenty years old, slips out of the front seat.  We we’re paying attention to her…

The inside of the bus begins to smell of excrement.  It is apparent that the gas used by the special services is acting on the bowels in this way.  I hurry over to the girl, stepping on this or that body on the way.  She is the one who was put on the bus first.

“What’s your name?”

“Yulia”

“How old are you?”

“14.”

I take down her parents’ phone number and promise to call.

Alongside, 16 year-old Arkady sits, his head lolling from side to side.  Next to him another young person wheezes and chokes on his saliva.  I grab Arkasha’s arm and order him to hold onto his neighbor’s hair.  Only about four of the twenty-two on the bus are able to react to what is going on.  The rest are intoxicated and shell-shocked, but there are no signs of gunshot wounds on any of them…

We fly down Leninsky.  We are driving to the 1st City Hospital.  The patrolmen run from the road as we race past.

The hospital gate is closed behind a barrier.  We curse at the guard in the window: “Are you asleep or what?  Open up!”

Some bored cops are hanging out by the hospital entrance.  Olya loses it.

“What the…  did you all just get up?!  Come on, help carry!”

The policemen instead go running for the doctors.  Suddenly six or seven pour out from the reception area.  My hands are shaking from the tension.  We carry, and private security guards help.

And then the worst part, the bodies of 3 dead hostages still on the bus…

After a bit of wrangling, the hospital agrees to take them as well.

We drive back, smoking.  Olya is tired, and speaks to no one in particular: “The bastards, oh they are such bastards…  But, listen, we made it with the rest?  We managed with those, ah?”

I am reporting the names of those people who loaded and carried 19 of 22 people.  Olya Belyakova is from ambulance substation #13, and Vasily Tegza is from bus park #9.

Indirect proof that the hostages were poisoned with gas is the fact that Yulia Kosterova, who gave me her parents’ phone number, got her own age wrong.  When I called her parents, her mother said that Yulia not 14, but 22.  Most on the hostages could not hear anything along the way.  It is possible that noise grenades may have deafened them.

28.7. How diplomats held negotiations with the terrorisys

“We didn’t know that that night there would be an assault understood that that night there would be an assault.”

From “Novaya Gazeta”, March 21st, 2005

A transcript from the Kazakhstan TV program ‘The State of Kazakhstan’

(Altynbek Sarsenaev, former Kazakhstan ambassador to Russia): “The diplomats from the countries whose citizens were in the theater hall had a conference.  I made the suggestion that we ask the terrorists to release all the foreign hostages in one group, and not by nationality after an appeal by every individual ambassador.  Imagine this, he Americans demanding theirs, the Georgians theirs, and the result would be disorder in the theater, panic, and that would have led to more victims.  All the diplomats supported this suggestion, and in the course of two days we got this through in the name of all the diplomats.  The terrorists formally agreed, but at the same time they were just drawing it all out.  The first deadline for letting the foreign citizens go was 12 o’clock, then it was 2, then 8, and 10.  The next day the same situation repeated itself, and no hostages were released.  When the Russian special services asked us to leave the premises, and the active movements of forces began, we understood that that night there would be an assault.”

(Kazakhstan TV correspondent Kseniya Kaspari): What happened on the day following the assault, and how did you look for our citizens?

“I have to admit, honestly, that things were harder after the special operation.  As you know, many of the victims were taken to various city hospitals.  And of course, no one made any lists and no one knew who was where.  By the entrance of each hospital were guards, and it was very hard for our employees to get inside and find out anything reliable.  I had to get into the official limousine with the Kazakhstan flag on it and personally get the information about our citizens.  During these searches it became clear that there were the bodies of children in one of the Moscow hospitals.  The head physician had strict instructions not to show or inform anyone what was there.  He explained to us that, yes, there were bodies, but they had been taken to the morgue.  I understood that this man was lying, and it was bothering him.  We were getting ready to go, but then a policeman came up to me and said: ‘Mr. Ambassador, I’ve been a cop for more than 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.  My conscience won’t let me deceive you, the girl you’re looking for, from what I can tell, is right here.  Come with me, I’ll escort you in’. This captain apparently had talked his boss into it, and he escorted us down to a cellar, where I was shown a body.  This is how we found the third citizen from our republic.”

What did you do when you understood that the plan for the ambassadors not to try and release their citizens separately would not work?

“I called Astana (the capital of Kazakhstan) and asked that the director of the ‘Weihnach’ cultural center, Mr. Muradov, come to Moscow.  After the Azerbaijani broke the accord and got their hostages released, the Ukrainians went and started trying to do the same.  Muradov decided to contact Barayev personally.  We got the cell phone number from FSB people.  When Movsar Barayev asked why the names of our Kazak citizens were all Russian, Muradov answered: ‘you are the ones dividing everyone into Russian and Chechen, but where we live Russians and Kazaks and Chechens are all Kazakhstanis!’.  In a word, we agreed to have all the Kazakhstani hostages released at 8 am.  But we didn’t know that that night there would be an assault.”

28.8. Every hostage a suspect?

From “Novaya Gazeta”, October 31st, 2002

By Liliya Mukhamedyarov

Moscow city assemblyman Vladimir Vasilev for several days visited with hostages in hospitals throughout the city.  Afterwards, he shared the unpleasant news with his colleagues.

“In City Hospital #13, on the second day following the rescue, I heard the phrase: ‘well, are we hostages again?’.” recounts Vladimir Vasilev.  “Three girls from my city ward were there. On Sunday morning, at 10 or 11 o’clock, the television said that the hostages could leave the hospitals.  The father of one of the girls, a teacher named Viktor Kucheyavenko, calls me up and says: ‘the blockade at the hospital is lifted, we can go get the girls, since they don’t have water anything to wear – they walk around in cellophane packets’.  After the official announcement on TV, we didn’t even think that we wouldn’t be able to get them.  We go into Hospital #13, but it turns out, the girls can’t leave, because investigators from the prosecutor’s office still haven’t questioned them.  The relatives of hostages were gathering at the doors to the clinics: dozens, even hundreds, who had come for their children, husbands, wives, and friends.  All were waiting.  I call up Hospital #7, where there was another woman from my city ward, and elderly woman, also a former hostage.  She says: ‘they questioned us, but they won’t release us until tomorrow’.  Very Russian, as always.

“Supplemental forces of investigators are brought into the hospital.  Some in uniform, some in civvies, all with cold faces.  The mandates of city assemblymen don’t move them, nor do appeals to their humanity.  Between them and us, and between those from various districts and departments, is a wall.  Nonetheless, I break through, and get them to question the girls and let them go as soon as possible.  Four investigators, two of which are still interns, question the three tenth graders.  The questioning is the harshest possible and lasts more than 3 hours.  With a break while the ‘organs’ (of internal security) can take lunch.

“Hysterics begin.  In the next ward a woman has burst into tears and thrown herself on the bed.  She is from Bishkek, they tell her: ‘shut up or you’ll never get out of here’.  Information is circulating that people are starting to die from the gas.  A girl from Kazakhstan.  The tension that had just left the hostages and their relatives returns.

“They carry in a patient who had just been discharged into the hospital ward.  After she had gone through questioning, verification, and had finally made it to the guard at the exit, she suddenly fell ill.

“I noticed that the investigators are working very professionally.  In accordance with the Criminal Codex.  But this is how one works with criminals!  How can you do this to peaceful citizens who had just gone through the most awful hours of their lives?

“We left the hospital around 8 at night.  Tatiana Kucheryavenko, Maria Shumnova, and Natasha Kazenova went with us in the car.  They were happy, and laughing.  In a second they start to cry.  Then again they are laughing, and again crying.

I understand that it is easier for the investigators to question everyone when they are all together, instead of going all over the city to locate them.  But why is their comfort paramount?  These weren’t terrorists, anyway.  But some employees of the prosecutor’s office say: ‘how would you know?’.”

28.9. Verbatim reports of SPS Public Commission meetings on the problems of medical care given to the hostages

From “Novaya gazeta”  , November 21st, 2002

I. The agenda of this session of the federal political council.

(Nemtsov)

Affirm the agenda of this session of the federal political council in the present protocol (appendix ¹ 1).

Voted 'Aye' unanimously.

II. The results of the work of the ‘SPS’ public commission to investigate the tragic events in Moscow on October 23–26, 2002.

(Nemtsov, Vorobyev, Fomin, Shubin, Khakamada, Katayev, Krasheninnikov, Tomchin, Fedotov, Kurin, Stankevich, Khomyakov, Gozman, Travkin, Nadezhdin, Mizulina)

1. To take into consideration a letter from E. A. Vorobyev about the results of the work of the public commission 'SPS' on the investigation of the tragic events in Moscow On 23 — 26 October, 2002, (further — commission).

2. To establish that the carelessness of the officials who were responsible for the overall coordination of actions in rescuing people after the assault, and also for the organization of first aid to victims and their transport to hospitals, became the main reason for an increase in the number of victims among the hostages rescued during the course of the assault.

3. To note the effective work of the commission and its effectiveness.

4. To express appreciation and special gratitude for the collaboration of experts, to the representatives of the community, and also to individual citizens, who participated in the work of the commission and who rendered it assistance.

5. To publish the results of the work of commission in the media, including the party newspaper, and to also place the materials of commission on party website.

Voted 'Aye' unanimously

Chairman of federal political advice to political party 'SPS' B. Nemtsov

Executive secretary of federal political council to the political party 'SPS' V. Nekrutenko

MINUTES OF THE SESSIONS OF THE PUBLIC COMMISSION OF THE 'SPS' ON QUESTIONS OF RENDERING TO THE MEDICAL AID TO THE INJURED HOSTAGES

Present:          Chairman of the commission: E. A. Vorobyev

Members of the commission: M. S. Anichkin, A. E. Barannikov, E. V. Dikun, A. N. Murashov, L. V. Stebenkova, G. A. Tomchin, I. M. Khakamada I. M., A. V. Shubin

Chairman of the Federal Political Council: B. E. Nemtsov

Colleague of the 'SPS' faction: A. S. Trapeznikova

LIST OF EXPERTS WHO PARTICIPATED IN SESSIONS OF THE PUBLIC COMMISSION OF THE 'SPS' ON OCTOBER 29 & 31, AND NOVEMBER 1, 2002

Expert ¹ 1, colleague of the 'Protection' All-Russia center for catastrophic medicine

Expert ¹ 2, specialist in the field of the forensic medicine

Expert ¹ 3, doctor of medical sciences, key personnel for catastrophes at the Sklifosovski Scientific Research Institute

Andrei Ivanovich Vorobyev, academician, director of the Hematological Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences

Expert ¹ 4, expert from the Moscow municipal parliament

Irina Sergeyevna Mylnikova, editor in chief of the medical journal 'Chief Physician'

Expert ¹ 5, colleague of the rescue service of the city of Moscow

Expert ¹ 6, expert of anatomical pathology

Boris Moiseyevich Blokhin, professor, doctor of medical sciences, Russian state medical university

Expert ¹ 7, colleague of the rescue service

Stepan Alekseyevich Kravchenko, correspondent from radio station 'Echo of Moscow'

«He's doomed if he's laying face up.»

B. E. Nemtsov: Yesterday we in the 'SPS' decided to create a public commission to find answers to two questions. The first question does not relate to you, but I will simply read it so that you are up to date.

First question: how did it happen that bandits in such numbers could appear unnoticed in the center of Moscow? With weapons and explosives.

The second question concerns whether everything was done to render adequate assistance to the victims.

1) Assistance rendered at the scene.

2) The situation in the clinics.

We have only one question for you: was timely and qualified medical help provided?

A. I. Vorobyev (academician, director of the Hematological Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences): We cannot say whether or not the aid was ‘qualified’, but we will discuss if it was ‘timely’.

In order to understand the level of medical training of those who are walking before the camera, it is sufficient to watch how they carry the victims. This is ‘zero’, and there’s nothing more to say.  These are not paramedics.

It is sufficient to watch how they carry the victims.  Ask a forensic physician: how many tongues were bitten through?  I fear that there were none, the tongues are all lolling back into the throat.  When a victim is carried face up.  No one, no tongues are secured, nothing.  He’s doomed if he’s laying face up, the root of the tongue closes the entrance into the larynx and he chokes.  That was the first thing they had to do.

It’s not bias.  I did not want to speak on this specific topic that you placed for consideration.  Is timely assistance being rendered?  Qualified?  Of course this is not assistance here, but what is it?  It’s not evident here.  The artificial respiration they recorded, that’s not artificial respiration, but heart massage, and it’s not being done by a doctor but by some random person who does not know what he’s doing.

A question: was there a doctor in the headquarters staff?  Did anyone foresee this medical emergency?  I’m sure there wasn’t.  It’s not a doctor who for an hour would only have stretchers and 80 ambulances in Moscow. This is not doctor. It means that he did not exist.  We know how to prepare for emergencies, how to think over them. Excuse me, but we have the experience of Chernobyl.

I gave Chernobyl as an example, because we did not burn up, because we had modeled a radiation emergency.  We considered this prior, and we created this center for radiation emergencies fifteen years before the emergency.

Will we reproach the doctors and organizers, that they were not conscientious?  No, this will not be and it is unneeded.  What was bad?  I watch these people dragging out people by their arms and by their legs.  They are not trained, and this is bad.  There are no paramedics in this country; there is no such service.  Within two hours after an accident, 80% of patients die if they are not rendered assistance.

Give this, which medical special establishments operated during this emergency? None! No one from the largest medical establishments of the city, which render assistance to the most critical patients, not one institute from the Academy of Medical Sciences! Not one patient was brought to them. Of course, I called up the minister and his first assistant, Shevtsovoy and Seltskovsky.  Don’t bother.

I. S. Mylnikova: If in the headquarters staff there was seriously a man who was responsible for the medical aid, he could have foreseen possible problems. Perhaps if they had told anyone that they were considering using gas, then a ‘leak’ could have occurred, and that was also a factor leading to failure that could have been foreseen.

According to my information, today Seltskovsky had a conference of the head physicians. They were exchanging opinions among themselves. So here the head of the Veteran’s Hospital said that when ‘Alpha’ was waiting to begin the assault, about an hour before it began he personally heard that they were waiting for the gas containers. So, leaking this information was not very serious, and this factor in the failure should have been foreseen.  As soon as we foresee a factor that could lead to failure, than the plan immediately changes.  We understand that all at once we are going to have 800 patients in a coma All at once, and this must be a question.

800 patients in a coma with 10 minutes to live.

It means that if such conditions are accepted, then they needed to sit down at the table and draw up this diagram, plan avenues of approach, assign roles and time frames.  Take a look here — where is the mistake?  Here they’re carrying.  Here they pile them up.  According to people who do not know, all the hostages are in a coma. To distinguish man in a coma from a man who is already dead is possible only by special inspection. What this is special inspection? Two fingers on the carotid artery. Focus you attention: was there was a single person who went around all these bodies and bent down over them thus?

Expert ¹ 3 (doctor of medical sciences, key personnel for catastrophes at the Sklifosovski Scientific Research Institute): This is called ‘sorting’, if you will excuse me.

I. S. Mylnikova: That is completely correct. That is, here in the area where the bodies were piled should have been the first reception area.  Here ‘sorting’ should have occurred: to distinguish a corpse from not corpse.

A. E. Barannikov: May I ask a question? Did only two people die in the hospitals, and that’s all?

Expert of ¹ 3: The rest during transportation.

B. E. Nemtsov: But why didn’t the doctors work on the patients? Why weren’t they next to them?

Expert ¹ 1 (colleague of the 'Protection' All-Russia center for catastrophic medicine): But what you do want, to see them in their lab coats?

B. E. Nemtsov: They are not working next to the to the patients.

Expert ¹ 1: They didn’t show them.

B. E. Nemtsov: It’s not necessary to pervert what we can we see on the screen.

Expert ¹ 1: I am perverting nothing.

B. E. Nemtsov:  You are perverting. On the screen we see the patients lying, and there are no doctors next to them.  You say that they are there, but I state that they aren’t.

I simply ask that it is not necessary to interpret the frames.

Expert ¹ 1:  To continue.  As far as the preparation of the rescue personnel, I agree.  600 hours of quality training, as paramedics and police in the US receive, does not happen in the MChS (Emergency and Disaster Relief Ministry). But I’ve seen their first aid work for 9 years, during all the earthquakes, I was personally in Sakhalin and together with Nechayev we organized things. I have an idea about this. They know how to render first aid. They know how, the rescue personnel know how.

I’m sure of what I don’t know, but of this I am sure — our specialists in Special Force ‘Alpha’ cannot be enrolled into the force if they don’t know how to render first aid.  I am sure of this.  Otherwise it they will not take in the Special Force. And they know how to do this.

Another matter, they picture we’re now viewing is what is called military terminology, ‘evacuation from the battlefield’. This is the first aid, but not medical.  The concept of this first aid is to carry people out from the field, to give them access to oxygen, and this should have been done first of all. Imagine the hall: 700 people, how many, I do not know. Some are at the edge, and some in the middle, and to find the gunmen and suicide bombers among them, to shoot these and then have time to carry everyone else out… You did note, how much time it took to carry out all the people, 700 people? How many people?  I looked, somewhere around — 35–40 minutes.

This is terrible labor – carrying out people.

Now further on: when such an extraordinary situation happens, and this extraordinary situation and its conditions have never happened anywhere at any other time, and no one had ever actually participated in one.

With what does the discussion deal?  Yes, we planned ahead.  I will show you all the plans, diagrams, and such.  They reserved hospital beds, 1500 hospital beds.  Trauma.  Even I clearly understood, and it was discussed with me, I understood why this could be some kind of gas.

This gas had never been used before, anywhere.

And I can tell you — there were doctors.  A little later about the ambulance brigades, but doctors, they sat in the Veteran’s Hospital.  This was a brigade from the Center of Catastrophic Medicine and a brigade from the Kostomarov Center of Extra-medical Aid from the city of Moscow, which carried out the ‘sorting’.

B. E. Nemtsov: Where did they sit? Where they were?

Expert ¹ 1: People felt that there could be an explosion constantly. That unknown, and how many rooms were investigated, and who was in what state, and where, did some of the gunmen change clothes.  And under these conditions they had to carry people out and rapidly put them into transports… But we say: to conduct another ‘sorting’, to give injection, to determine… Where are you going to find this doctor who can do all this in a fraction of a second?

It was easier at Chernobyl. We knew that it was radiation. Here we did not know previously what it was. And to get oriented, to do things and to have enough time… By no means would I say, but you said the ‘brilliant’, that there was nothing brilliant here.  This was a tough situation. It was forced on us. It was determined by these conditions. Under these conditions it can’t be done well. You understand? It can’t, and here’s a question for you.

The rescue personnel, when the doctors arrived 10 minutes later, they had already carried out the corpses separately. There were about 100 people. Corpses.

B. E. Nemtsov: May I ask a question?  You say that they carried 100 corpses from the building. Did I understand you correctly?

Expert ¹ 1: People who worked there told me that tentatively. They counted about 100 people — a heap of bodies.  Here they ask ‘why are they dragging them?’  Yes, they are dragging a dead person.

B. E. Nemtsov: That means 100 corpses.

Expert ¹ 2 (specialist in the field of the forensic medicine):  I am not a clinician. I am an expert. If you will allow me, I’d like to briefly present five points with this respected quorum of doctors:

1) It is completely obvious here is that the task of rescuing people is secondary; the primary task was the destruction of the terrorists, what would happen to the people — this was secondary;

2) I agree with the opinion that someone, anyone, immediately after assault must obtain information on what poison was used;

3) Their dehydration and exhaustion played an extremely negative part in the numbers killed.

What, in my view, is subject to debate?  Two moments, and both moments are organizational:

4) That, which we saw, and from what we know, it is not possible to state unambiguously that patients were rationally distributed to therapeutic establishments throughout Moscow;

5) There is no sensation that forces and facilities needed for rescuing people in this situation were calculated efficiently.

Expert ¹ 3:  Firstly, any catastrophe has four stages:

1) The moment when the catastrophe occurs, whether mechanical, thermal, toxic, radiation, or combined.  As we say, it has a center of inflammation, even if it’s an impact or an explosion. Here is where they count how many losses were during the first stage.

2) Then begins the second stage. For us this is the ‘white spot’, this is the stage prior to the beginning of the specific medical aid, when people can only depend on themselves. This is the worst period.  And this is precisely one of the stages we see here.

3) Later we come to third stage, the pre-hospital stage, which includes cautious transport, no matter what the situation, whether they are coming down from 10th floor or from the mountains. Therefore I am confident, that 30–40 percent of the people during evacuation are subject to additional conditions that contribute to death. The third stage provides for correct evacuation and transport.

4) The fourth stage is the hospital stage; it proved to be more or less organized.  Actually only four corpses.  They died before receiving medical assistance.

The conclusions will be unequivocal. It is necessary to gather all information in order to find out the truth and so that in the future these errors are not repeated. But right now I am also ashamed. I am personally ashamed as a doctor, for what I now see here I have never seen before.  I would not object if this were out in the steppes, or some rural locale, or the taiga.  All of Moscow was ready to help, but now we sit here in failure and talk.

L. V. Stebenkova: Here you said that were prepared 1500 beds in Moscow, that it was not possible to foresee the situation with the gas… But when they already understood that there were 800 people then someone in the headquarters staff would at least think about where to send them, and how to distribute them?

A question lies in a fact, which astonishes me — that there was no one not there who would deal with sending people to the hospitals. Why send 300 people to the same hospital?

B. E. Nemtsov:

1) Right now we are going to make absolutely no hasty conclusions, we are simply acquainting ourselves on what went on, and that’s all.

2) If there will be a parliamentary commission, then we will present documents for this parliamentary commission.

First, we saw unique video frames, in which no doctors are to be seen anywhere.  In the second place, we have learned what the forces and facilities were: 80 ambulances, the number of MChS workers, etc. We learned that there weren’t 67 dead at the scene, but 100.

Therefore our talk has been facilitated, i.e., we do not need to occupy ourselves with the hospitals, if they did not die in the hospitals.

1) Our first conclusion is that of 120 people, four died in the hospital, and 116 died in three places. The three places: inside the hall, on being carried out of the hall, and during transport. Thus, we actually need not analyze the hospitals, thank God.

2) The second conclusion is that inadequately qualified people were included in the plan to rendering first aid.

3) To our great shame and the regret, we did not see doctors rendering first aid, so this is our obvious conclusion. I saw video frames of people being moved in two buses. I watched attentively at what went on in these buses. People there were asleep in different poses, but there were no doctors.

These are the three obvious conclusions from today's discussion.

Expert ¹ 4 (expert from the Moscow municipal parliament): I am somewhat in solitary with our opponent. In reality, the discussion is not about whether they rendered first aid, but that that it was rendered haphazardly.  Aid begins with transport, with the evacuation of the bodies.

I. S. Mylnikova: Yesterday I was occupied with calling a large number of doctors, head physicians, and interviewing them.  A doctor from one of the hospitals said that at approximately 7:25 A.M. at PAZ bus came, bringing 17 or 19 patients, all of them with a dark-blue color, with shallow breathing.  Two were in their death throws. The men in terminal agony, he said, were lying on top of a living 13-year-old. Two policemen and a correspondent with a camera accompanied them.

We talked with a policeman who was there, and asked him about what happened. He said: “Well, we were starting to pack them out and I see that there’s only room for one in an ambulance.  All the rest have nowhere to go, so I tell my boys to drag them into the bus. I ask where to take them and they tell me to Hospital 13.  I don’t know about the rest.”

B. E. Nemtsov: The task before us is that, God willing it doesn’t, but if such a thing happens again that we would behave more adequately, so that less people die and so on.  I believe that the sum of this work will result in finding out the truth.

«They didn’t tell me to inject, what to inject, or where to carry them.”

Expert ¹ 5 (colleague of the rescue service of the city of Moscow): I can’t evaluate what went on, since I assume that people who saw the whole picture must do this. I can only tell you the point of view of a man who inside when they sent in the rescue personnel.  Unfortunately, no one warned us about what we would see. We simply knew that there were many victims, that they’d used gas there, but whether we should take with us some kind of individual protection, no one said anything about this, naturally.

We were forced to evaluate the state of the victims independently. It became clear to those rescue personnel inside that it was necessary as quickly as possible to carry people out into the fresh air, and give antidotes to bring them around.  These were specifically prepared for that wave of personnel who followed us, the rescue personnel. The time difference was about 5 — 10 minutes, because we immediately got the order as to what drugs to bring with. I mean our order, an internal order.

What I didn’t observe, but would have like to have observed was leadership.  No one took control of where to carry the victims, where to do ‘sorting’, which vehicles to carry the victims to.  Yes, even the vehicles.  In essence there wasn’t a significant amount of time. It was unclear what to do with the people, which they’d carried out to the street, whether to stay with them so that, God grant, they didn’t get rolled over into an incorrect position, or whether to go back.  Naturally, once we were convinced that they were properly positioned, we went back in, since initially there were no vehicles to load them into.

Later I didn’t observe, unfortunately, anyone in charge of the queue of ambulances, or any real organization to the loading of the people who were transported, especially in buses.  Naturally I didn’t observe the unloading. 

E. A. Vorobyev: But when did the evacuation begin, at what time? I.e., when were your people sent to the hostages?

Expert ¹ 5: I don’t remember anymore.  In my opinion it was this 57, 6:57.

In about a half-hour thing became to get more specifically assigned.  I tell you this as someone who did the dragging.  If they’d told me to take travois or stretchers, then we could’ve worked more rapidly and efficiently, but we sent people in there empty handed. Whoever had vehicles nearby, or who could drive up close, those fine people had stretchers.  We had them, but no one told us that we needed to take them with us, or what medicines, specifically what, we had to determine that on our own. We took upon ourselves the responsibility and guessed.

You also understand, that in general this entire hostage rescue operation consisted of two stages, of two phases. The first — it was necessary to render harmless the terrorists and their munitions.  This was a job for the FSB. The second – an operation to evacuate victims from the zones of the emergency situation render them first aid.  Who was supposed to be in charge, I don’t know.  We’ll let the official investigation decide.

E. A. Vorobyev: You said that a people you carried out from the building were in the foyer or the entrance for a significant amount of time. I already asked this. A significant amount of time, but how long were they located there, approximately?

Expert ¹ 5: I don’t know. You have the recordings. You can look, whereas I’m afraid to be mistaken. But if I recall correctly, then, in my opinion, we still saw victims at 8.  It turns out that this is not less than an hour, but it wasn’t, since the ones most severely affected were carried out in the first minutes.  Those probably were there no more than five minutes.  It is also unknown.

I’m a little guy. I look at all this from the side and can’t understand one thing.  If we know that there are on the order of 800 people in the building, approximately, then we understand that with the worst outcome, that the potentially maximum number of people who suffered will supposedly be 800. Now do we triple that?  Do we add to this number with the most unfavorable outcome those who come after them?  That something will happen to them? I.e., they could also be victims.

Really, from the very beginning, couldn’t we have assumed that this is the number of hospitals, and for the maximum number of victims let’s assume 3 thousand?  So how shall we distribute them? Where to bring them, how many beds to prepare for them, and so forth? Here they already are, the potential victims.

A. N. Murashov: Because of the inability to organize, the poor organization, people died. Those who were brought to the hospitals, almost no one died there. If timely aid had been rendered, then it would be possible to save more people. People didn’t die because the gas was some terrible, toxic, thing, but in general they died because of elementary Russian confusion.

E. A. Vorobyev: Rendering first aid during such poisonings is of paramount importance.

Expert ¹ 5: I’d agree with the assumption that it was possible to save considerably more people.

You understand, being there, they needed to tell me to give an injection.  They needed to give me something to inject.  They needed to say how to carry, where to carry, and then organize the transport in time.  Here is what I needed in order to save more people.

The ambulance was blocked

B. M. Blokhin (professor, doctor of medical sciences, Russian state medical university):  I conduct a course on urgent health states at the Second Medical Institute.  I would like to stop for a while on the gas.  It is a strong analgesic gas, 300–400 stronger than morphine.  Its effect begins in two minutes and continues for eight minutes. In this specific case, what was complicated, to evaluate the state or to make some standardized diagram for all victims? Taking into account that this substance is known, what was needed was that the first stage, i.e., the FSB operation should have been divided into two stages.  Naturally, they needed to prepare for the medical aspect of the catastrophe in accordance with true facts.  As I found out, the first wave of ambulance brigades was not completely informed (of the nature of the gas), and worked according to clinical signs.  I will not yet mention transport.  The fact is, these people could just enter — they simply carried victims out from the zone. These were not specialists.  That military physicians were not at work at the scene, this was a large minus. That the MChS did not work, this was a large minus. Even the Moscow rescue service was head and shoulders above the medical unit.

The medical unit: and now here are the buses. People just simply died. Here is a very important thing. They brought nine victims by bus to the First City Hospital, and they were simply lying on the floor.

And taking into account the fact that this was a known (substance), it would have been possible to at least equip the physicians better than they did.  What occurs with any narcosis? After some period the patient loses consciousness begins, and it begins to breathe shallowly. This respiration is insufficient. I.e., hypoxia of brain begins, that is, the respiration centers (of the brain) are disrupted.  All of this was here and all of this occurred. If we do not stimulate respiration in time, i.e., to begin auxiliary respiration — manual ventilation, in any case, it was necessary to place airways in everyone.  There are special masks used in anesthesiology, a mask and airway together so that the tongue would fall (into the larynx).  All these victims could have been saved.

Therefore, the first stage, the medical stage, failed.  I'm not speaking yet about Nalaxon, that is, the antidote that we have.  It used to be called Naralfin, and now it is Nalaxon, which is used only in the second wave of first aid.

A. Trapeznikova: We have this chronology. At 5:30 they applied the gas, and here we see that they only began to carry people out into the air somewhere around 7 o’clock.

B. M. Blokhin:  This comes out to one and a half hours. Somewhere about 40 minutes before the assault they began to apply the gas, and continued for another 15 — 50 minutes afterwards. Whomever they carried out first, they were lucky.  Whomever they carried out last had it bad, since they were in the first rows where the concentration was higher, and they had further to be carried.

A. Trapeznikova: They were in a closed space and they continue to breath the gas. Therefore they came out with a prolonged effect.

B. M. Blokhin: Absolutely correct. Exposure to the gas was greater in those who sat in the hall.  They had a higher concentration and were carried out later. They ended up falling through the cracks.

I saw three press conferences with the medical unit, with the public health committee. At first they indicated that it (Nalaxon) wasn't necessary, because they didn't know what (had poisoned the hostages). Then they said that it was necessary, and then at the third press conference they said that all hospitals were already equipped with it (Nalaxon), they had distributed it.  But this had to be done in the first minutes, and not when there are already manifestations of (a narcotic) state.

And I can say with the complete confidence (I talked with the toxicologists in to the 13th Children's Hospital, and I am also of the opinion) that patients or victims did not perish from the gas, but from incorrect transport of victims in the pre-hospital stage, during transport.  I wouldn't even call this transport. These people were required to conduct themselves differently than this.  They were unprofessional. The organization there was incorrect, that organization, which was supposed to provide all this.  These are elementary things.

There should have been a vehicle for each victim. This is not complicated for Moscow. I know sufficiently well, for 20 years I worked critical care, ambulances brought patients to me.  All had resuscitation sets, absolutely all of them. But what is resuscitation set?  An airway, which prevents the tongue from retracting, and oxygen. That's it, nothing more was needed.  To a lesser degree there was the need for Nalaxon.  Everyone who is now in the hospital, all of them have brain damage, but not toxic. The (problem in the) cerebrum was secondary.  That is, hypoxia developed in a vein of edema in the brain, and secondarily respiratory disturbances developed, and respiratory insufficiency. All this is secondary time. But primarily there was no prevention of upper airway obstruction. And if they weren't going to allow ambulance physicians in, then there should have been military medics, and there should have been the MChS.

There is a rule in medical catastrophes or the medicine in extraordinary situations: do not concentrate a large number of patients and victims all in one place.  340 victims were in the 13th Hospital. The fact is, that even this competently staffed hospital can't manage this flow of victims. This is absurd! 340 people! They would have needed at least 700 staff!

The Sklifosovski Institute is a competent establishment, it could have done something, but the (department of) medical catastrophes, which is located in the Sklifosovski Institute, was not used, as far as I know.  That is, the federal services were shut out and replaced by Moscow, which could not manage.  But that is no longer my question. This is an organizational question. I think that (the problems) were not simply due to poor organization — I don't think that there even was an organization.  People perished for no reason at all.

It is difficult.  When you see it all, you understand and know it, and you run into it everywhere, and when before your very eyes absolutely innocent people die!  When they perform such an operation, when 200 people go, they dispatched them to death.  And later, all of this, who was it done for?  It was done for the people, but later they just tossed them on the ground and didn't do anything.  They sent them off on buses, and the hospitals didn't know what they were supposed to do, this of course is scandalous!

Have I said anything new to you?

Still in the organization plan: how were the vehicles set out?  They needed to set it up so that the ambulances went around in a circle.  There was a blockade of these vehicles.  And that's also very annoying.

»People died in route"

A summary of 'Echo of Moscow' correspondent S. A. Kravchenko's interviews with participants in the events on October 26th, 2002.

A. S. Trapeznikova: Describe if you please, how you proved to be a witness and participant in the reception of the first injured hostages from DK GPZ in the 13th hospital.

S.A. Kravchenko: Since I was working there, reporting on these events, I had to leave for morning shift change on the 26th. The editor going off duty called me and asked me to drive along the opposite side Dubrovka Street, outside the cordon. I ended up not far from Hospital 13. At that moment I saw three buses, which were coming to the hospital from the direction of the theatrical center.

A. S. Trapeznikova: What time was this?

S.A. Kravchenko: This was towards the end of 7.

A. S. Trapeznikova: It wasn’t yet 8 o’clock?

S.A. Kravchenko:  No, according to my calculations, this was between 7”40 and 7:50.  I drove rapidly after the buses, and got there about five minutes after the buses did.

A. S. Trapeznikova:  Then did you see how these buses were received at the hospital?

S.A. Kravchenko: Yes, there were three buses, and of they began fairly quickly and systematically to remove people who were sitting and lying there on the bus.  There was about 40–60 on each bus.  The living were mixed in among the corpses, lying on the floor…

A. S. Trapeznikova: People were sitting and lying down inside the buses?

S.A. Kravchenko:  People were sitting and lying. What happened later, there weren’t enough stretchers and other means to carrying out the victims, so practically everyone was carried in the arms of the rescue personnel.  I also took part. For approximately 15 minutes we carried out all of the living from there.

A. S. Trapeznikova:  You, of course, are not a physician, not a specialist, but you did notice the people who were lying down?  Were then in specific poses, with their heads turned, for example?  Were there any victims whom you could tell had received medical aid?  Perhaps they were intubated, with tubes for respiration?

S.A. Kravchenko: The people who were lying (on the floor of the bus), most of them were dead people…

A. S. Trapeznikova:  It was certain that they corpses?

S.A. Kravchenko: Well, this not was very clear, since there were many live ones there, it was complicated to tell them from the corpses…

A. S. Trapeznikova: How were they distinguished (from the corpses)?

S.A. Kravchenko: Right after the buses arrived, rescue service personnel climbed in and right there on the spot they began to determine who was alive, who was a corpse…  They were lying on their backs, not all of them had their heads turned to the side, and the corpses and the living were mixed up.

A. S. Trapeznikova: But were there accompanying personnel on the buses?

S.A. Kravchenko: When I got there I didn’t see them. I arrived practically at the same time the buses did, and I got the impression that there were no rescue personnel there, or doctors, or anyone…

A. S. Trapeznikova: What were the buses with the hostages like directly after arrival?

S.A. Kravchenko: They arrived, the doors were opened, and hospital personnel began to resuscitate some on the spot, and take others out… The situation here…

A. S. Trapeznikova: You only saw three buses, no more drove up? How long did all of this go on?

S.A. Kravchenko: I only saw three buses, because I left later…  This all continued, the removal of those who were still alive, it went on about 15 minutes, and it was very rapid.

A. S. Trapeznikova: At the hospital they all worked systematically?

S.A. Kravchenko: Yes, the doctors themselves, there can be no complaints about them.  And there were strictly, no claims to them be it can. And there were rescue personnel there.

A. S. Trapeznikova: But no ambulances drove up?

S.A. Kravchenko: It didn’t see any, only buses.

A. S. Trapeznikova: It turned out that these were some of the first buses, which transported injured hostages?

S.A. Kravchenko: Yes, it turns out so.

A. S. Trapeznikova:  It’s not understood, how many corpses proved to be on the buses?

S.A. Kravchenko: I didn’t count, but after we dragged out all the living, according to my rough estimate, there were about 15 inanimate persons still on each bus.  On the whole, around 50 people, or maybe a little less.

CONCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC COMMISSION OF THE 'SPS' ON QUESTIONS OF RENDERING MEDICAL AID TO THE INJURED HOSTAGES

Hearings were held by the public commission of the 'SPS' held on October 29th and 31st, and November 1st, 2nd, and 4th, with the participation of experts in the field of catastrophic medicine, as well as a number of rescue personnel who were direct participants in the events. The following is a summary of their findings.

The main reason for the high number of hostage casualties was the carelessness of officials responsible for the organization of first aid to the victims, their transport to hospitals, and the general coordination of rescue personnel after the assault.

From the materials of the sessions of the public commission, audio and video materials that were at the commission's disposal of commission, and publications in the media, the commission concludes that there were numerous deficiencies in the rendering of first aid and the evacuation of victims from the theatrical complex, including:

1.      An inadmissibly long wait for medical aid and transport to the medical establishments.

2.      After the neutralization of the terrorists, information about the use of Fentanyl, the possible consequences of its use, and the necessary measures to avert danger to life and health were kept hidden.

3.      A substantial number of victims were carried out and placed on their backs (instead of been placed on their sides or abdomen), which could lead to death from mechanical asphyxiation as a result of retraction of the tongue and aspiration (of vomit).

4.      The absence of a leader-coordinator of medical workers by the building exit.

5.      The absence of the 'sorting' (triage) of victims, and their medical conditions were incorrectly evaluated.

6.      The absence of an temporary area to arrange the victims and make possible their on the spot resuscitation by the efforts of several (medical) brigades.

7.      Adequate first aid did not occur, and tracheal tubes were not used.

8.      Quick, free, and uninterrupted traffic of ambulances and buses was not organized.

9.      Mass transport of victims was carried out using buses without the proper number of doctors, medics, or rescue personnel, who were able to perform resuscitation.

10.  The headquarters did not organize sufficient interaction between the actions of the special forces, rescue personnel, and did not coordinate ambulances.

11.  Military medical organizations, which possess specialized methods, experience, and knowledge, were not activated.

12.  A uniform distribution of victims to various treatment facilities was not organized.

Proposals of the public commission:

1.      It is essential that the various rescue services work out and coordinate their actions for rendering to medical aid under catastrophic conditions, which result in mass casualties.

2.      It is essential that the special services and rescue services receive appropriate training in paramedical methods.

3.      It is essential in similar cases that we consider rendering medical aid as close as possible to the scene of the catastrophe, and that military medics are used.

4.      It is essential that those officials, who showed obvious carelessness in the coordination of rescue efforts after the assault, in the organization of first aid to the victims, and their transport to treatment facilities, are held responsible.

 Accepted unanimously. 

Chairman of the commission: E. A. Vorobyev

Members of the commission: M. S. Anichkin, A. E. Barannikov, E. V. Dikun, A. N. Murashev, L. V. Stebenkova, G. A. Tomchin, I. M. Khakamada, A. V. Shubin

28.10. “From victory to Beslan”

Testimony by the commander of the assault group who had braved ‘Nord-Ost’

From Moscow News”, October 22nd, 2004

By Andrey Soldatov

Two years after the seizure of the theater on Dubrovka there are still questions that the authorities still have not answered.  October 26th, 2002, I was sitting with three other journalists in a house just to the left of the theater’s main entrance.  In horror we watched them laying out the bodies of dead hostages in front of the theater.  First in one row, then two.  It did not look like a victory. 

But the authorities, despite the number lost, called the hostage rescue a successful operation.  Moreover, the FSB guessed that the assault on the theatrical center in destroying all the terrorists had shown all gunmen that it would be useless to use the tactic of taking hostages ever again.  For a long time it was known that letting Basayev leave Budennovsk alive had inspired Raduyev to make raids on Kizlyar and Pervomaiskoye.

Two years after ‘Nord-Ost’, we got Beslan.  The plan has not worked.

Through the eyes of a special services officer

In December of last year, FSB Colonel Sergey Savrin, recipient of the ‘Hero of Russia’, quit his job as deputy chief of the combat operation section of Directorate ‘V’, the special assignments center known as ‘Vimpel’ (Pennant).   During the storming of the theater at Dubrovka, he commanded one of the assault groups.

What was you assignment during the assault?

“I commanded the section that freed hostages from the balcony.  We went in from the direction of the main entrance, passed along the garages, as did another two sections that freed the hall.  Our group entered through a broken window by the stairway.  Then from the bathrooms we went up to the balcony.”

How many sections took part in the assault?

“Six sections participated.  Three from Directorate ‘A’, and three from Directorate ‘V’.  It was almost all personnel from the SAC (special assignments center), except for only a few.  In Directorate ‘V’ there are 4 sections, while in ‘A’ there are 5.  A section from ‘A’ and ‘V’ are always in the Chechen Republic, so during ‘Nord-Ost’ only one section remained in reserve, on alert.   Besides us, there are combat operations sections in the Special Operations Service, who provide for the execution of other missions, since this could have been a diversionary strike.”

Groups and sections, these are one and the same?

“A section is a permanent unit, while a group is put together for the execution of an operation.  In each assault group are about 30 people.  But were less in the subgroups, which have officers with special weapons.  There are groups of snipers, and groups with flash-bang grenades.”

Group ‘A’ and ‘V’ were given the same assignments?

“Yes, everyone had the same mission – as quickly as possible move to the assigned locations, in order not to loose the element of surprise with the terrorists, and to liquidate all gunmen.  The missions were identical, we all trained together.  Only are two subdivisions were in action – ‘A’ and ‘V’.

Was the order given to not take any terrorists alive?

“The order on how to carry out the assault was written well before the storming of the theater.  The prosecutor general and the directors of the interior ministry and FSB stamped it.  It was known that the building was wired with explosives, which could knock the whole building down, and that the system was set up with duplicate wiring so that even one terrorist remaining alive could set off the charges.  Therefore trying to capture someone could have led to a tragic event.  Someone could have set off the explosives and we wouldn’t have been able to save anyone.”

But before the assault was there any information about these duplicate systems?

“Yes, there had been released hostages, and we worked them over.  By the way, here is a tragedy: one of the high-ranking FSB people declared that we knew how many terrorists there were, because some of the among the hostages was an FSB employee who called the alert center on his cell phone at the moment the terrorists were taking over the theater.  And this declaration by the FSB man…”

He said this before the assault?

“Yes, he did it before the assault, on the first or second day.  It was shown on television, he betrayed the man.  He was killed when we entered the hall.”

In your opinion, are the medics guilty of anything?

No.  The physicians worked with dedication.  But they aren’t gods.  They only have two hands, not ten.  Understand, it was predicted back at headquarters that there would be casualties, dead and wounded, there would be shooting, and explosions, there will be a lot of human losses.  But here is what happened: the assault was carried out, no explosions, and eight hundred or so unconscious people had to be resuscitated.  And so it turned out that we weren’t ready.”

It turns out, that they expected an explosion?

“Yes, there was that apprehension, and there were serious reasons for it.  Too many terrorists.  Any one of them could have set off the bomb.”

Then why did not a single one of the terrorists set off their explosives?  They had time, since the gas did not act instantaneously.

“When we entered the hall we saw a ‘shahidka’, she was sitting in a chair.  Her eyes were open, and she was holding the contacts in her hand.  All she had to do was close them.  Why she didn’t do this was not known.  May she was waiting for the command, the order.  She had time.  By the way, a few of the gunmen managed to don respirators.  One stood right on the stage and was shooting a machinegun in the theater until he was destroyed.”

Good, but had there been an explosion, how many would have survived?

“Less than 10 percent.  Everyone knew that it could be this way: the terrorists let the soldiers into the hall, and then someone from outside would blow up the theater with a radio signal.  Then it would have been the end.”

After the assault

Were there any reforms at the Center after ‘Nord-Ost’?

“No, everything stayed the same as before, practically.”

But at the operational headquarters level, were there any reports that would have helped the headquarters to work more effectively in the future?

“We, the special subdivisions, we draw conclusions after every operation.  But unfortunately at the governmental level, after ‘Nord-Ost’ no such documents appeared.  But they may have appeared and didn’t make it down to our level, that of the specific participant in anti-terrorism operations, no they didn’t get that far.  The special forces it’s clear did its job right.  The personal qualities of the leaders were evident, besides, this is Center, and everything is nearer to them.  These measures were adopted only after Beslan.  Once upon a time, back in the Soviet Union, there was a lot of exercises, how to act in the case of a large-scale attack or emergency situation, how assistance from the military organizations would work, if it were necessary.  It was clearly known who was to direct the operation, who was subordinate, who would detach what units for this or that result.  Now, after Beslan, we are returning to the ‘good old days’ of special assemblies, when the high-ranking leaders went through the General Staff academy.  We’re returning to this nowadays, and the president has made the corresponding directive.”

The winners are not judged

Right after the assault some absurdities went on.  The Kremlin celebrated a victory, because ‘They hadn’t driven Russia to her knees’.  The terrorists celebrated victory, because the gunmen had taken a huge number of victims with them in death.  The losers turned out to be the relatives of the hostages, who still do not know whose fault it was that their loved ones died, and have not received compensation worthy of their loss.  The public has also lost, since they have lost the ability to have some kind of an influence on the situation.  No one has paid any attention to this.

There turned out to be so many victors that a new hostage seizure was practically unavoidable.  The terrorists wanted to repeat the success of ‘Nord-Ost’, while after their victory the Kremlin had not tried to occupy itself with planning the work of operational staffs in such cases.  The professionalism of the special services allowed them to forget the mistakes in coordination between various agencies.  The special services in Beslan once again showed their professionalism, and moreover, all the police and military acted just like heroes.  There were even more victims, however.

28.11. “They killed my husband”

Relatives of dead hostages do not even hope to find out the truth about their dead loved ones

From Moscow News”, #42

By Oleg Kazakov

The happy euphoria following the hostage rescue operation at the ‘Nord-Ost’ theater was quickly changed to puzzled dread.  At first they talked about 30 dead, later Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Vasilev officially acknowledged that 67 were killed, and towards Saturday evening these figure had risen to 90, while by Sunday morning it was 118.  Relatives, maddened by the chaos and fruitless waits by the gates of hospitals, left to search for their loved ones in the morgues.

The hostage rescue headquarters had no normal lists of the living.  How then could they list the dead, since no one was able to establish the dead hostages’ identities on the run?  The prosecutor’s office occupies itself with identifying the dead, and contacting them by phone is almost impossible.  Anyone who manages to get through the busy signals finds out that the bodies are spread out to a minimum of five pathologic-anatomical departments in various ends of Moscow, without a system.  “You can call the morgues,” advises a worker at the prosecutor’s office.  “Maybe you can find out something from the description.  But it’s probably better just to go there in person.”  No transport from headquarters to the places of identification is available.

“What are you going on about surnames for?  Here everyone is unidentified.” This is how a worker at the Botkin hospital morgue greets crying relatives.  They do not care much for the press here, just as at all the medical establishments throughout the capital.  The worker and head investigator, however, soften up quickly: “Come on, we need a witness.”  In a worn room stand a pale, middle-aged couple.  They had been searching for throughout Moscow for their mother’s body:  “The grandkids decided to take her to the play for her birthday.  We found everyone else in the hospital, but she is nowhere to be found.”

The investigator takes out passports and starts to fill out a form.  “How are you with dead people?  Okay?”  Not waiting for an answer, the worker opens the refrigerator and invites us to examine the naked body of a heavyset, dark-haired woman.  The dead woman’s face registers neither pain nor suffering, it is as if the person had died in her sleep.  Her skin is covered with red spots.  After a few minutes of tense expectation the identification does not take place.  The couple is close to fainting, and I hurry to take them out into the street.  “Thank God, Mama’s not here.  We’d like to be done with all this running around from morgue to morgue, and we’d find her elsewhere,” they say in parting.  According to official data, more than 50 people were missing without a trace following ‘Nord-Ost’.  More than likely, the majority of them will not be found.

Men with machineguns stand guard at forensic medical morgue #9 on Federation Prospect.  There are a lot of nameless bodies here, and a long line has formed for identification.  People nervously smoke, make calls on cell phones, and swallow pills with mineral water.  Relatives look at a photo album of the dead with the help of a car’s headlights.  A few of them her are doing poorly, and a physician stands by.  Not long ago these people were trying to storm the hospital gates together, but now grief has estranged them.  Each is alone with their tragedy.  A majority of the men and women are not in any condition to adequately understand the investigators’ tales about which forms they need to fill out in the near future.  For now they are not looking for the guilty, and are not thinking about compensation.  And, moreover, they are not interested in the operation’s ‘brilliant results’.  No matter how high the percentage of rescued hostages was, this cannot return their loved ones.

“Maybe that’s wrong, maybe the doctors made a mistake,” Varya Moreva refuses to believe what she has heard.  “After all, sometimes people fall into a deep coma.  Our medicine doesn’t know what it is.  I don’t know what we’ll do without Papa.  He kept the whole house together.”  Many are bewildered by the official information about deaths of their relatives under the effects of the ‘harmless gas’.  “My brother was a strong young man,” says a tall woman in a gray coat.  “The night before the assault he called us up, and even tried to tell a joke. He never complained about his health.  My friends, who drove to many morgues, said they so more than one body with gunshot wounds.  Maybe theyre hiding the truth from us, like always.”

Valentina Khramtsova is the wife Fyodor Khramtsov, a trumpet player in the ‘Nord-Ost’ orchestra.  He died during the assault.  She stands on the street in front of the morgue, shaking.  She had just identified her husband.  She would not be allowed to take him any sooner than two days from now — there were a lot of documents to prepare.  A full certificate with the diagnosis could be ready in no less than a week, they said.  “Let them write that he died as a result of a terrorist attack.  They’re all reporting how they’re all such good boys.  I know what they’ll write, that the gas poisoned him.  But they killed him, after all.  They killed my husband…”

Next to Valentina are Sasha and his wife; they are musicians and friends of Fyodor from the orchestra, who were not working on during that show, and the relatives of other musicians, who were hospitalized.  “We’ll hold on together!” Valya wrote on a wall on Melnikov Street, by the theater, leaving her telephone number for anyone who had information about the orchestra musicians.  They spent the three terrible days there.  On Sunday, giving up on getting any information, they went looking for Fyodor in the morgues.  The ‘Nord-Ost’ orchestra had already lost three musicians: trumpet player Fyodor Khramtsov, drummer Timur Koziev, and oboist Alexander Volkov.  Another three – Sergey Savelev, Viktor Martynov, and Anton Kobozev – were listed as missing.

We went to another morgue with the relatives of those who were still missing, out in a dark alley near Lyublin Street.  By then it was late in the evening.  After a long wait in the pouring rain, a sleepy guard opened up for us: “You’re wasting your time coming here.  Everyone’s okay here, all our dead have been identified, your relatives aren’t here.  You’d be better off going to Baumanskaya.  They have two full morgues and there are probably a lot of unidentified ones there.”   From official sources it became known that the number of dead hostages had reason to 160, and another 50 were still in intensive care.

28.12. Three lawsuits thrown out of court. 58 more victims in line for humiliation

Why are judges so rude to us, when we support them with our taxes?

From “
Novaya Gazeta

By Anna Politkovskaya, January 27th, 2003

Legal protocol is a stern thing with pretensions of objectivity. Sort of. When, however, this protocol falls into even a few places during the court session – under the dictation of the judge: “Write this, don’t write that”, as happened during the last installment of the ‘Nord-Ost’ courts, then one needs to make some notes outside the protocol, notes whose aim is to resurrect the picture of our life.

“Karpov, be seated! I told you!”

“I would also like to speak….”

“Sit down! You missed the stage for examining documents…”

“No one sent me a notice!”

“You missed it. Sit down! Or I will have you removed!”

“I wish to enter…”

“I won’t accept anything!”

Decent gentlemen, as in well known, do not try to settle scores with ladies, and so he submits. But she does not quiet down:

“Karpov, don’t raise your hand again!”

“I wish to finally have my rights explained to me!”

“Nothing will be explained to you!”

The active characters in the play:

He is Sergey Karpov, the father of Alexandra Karpova, who was killed during the terrorist liquidation operation in the building on Dubrovka. He is now a plaintiff, one of the 61 appealing to the capital’s Tverskoy inter-municipal court with a request seeking damages from the Moscow city government for moral injury in connection with the circumstances of the cause of their grief. Sergey is already not a young man, but she is lecturing to him as if he was a fifth grader.

She is a lady in a cloak.

The hall, which has not seen a good sweeping in a long time, is full of people. The journalists who have been forbidden to use Dictaphones (and why? What government secrets are they protecting here?). The victims with their battered souls – it is a bit frightening to speak with them, because they almost immediately burst into tears. Their relatives and friends have come to support them if they should faint or have heart problems. The lady in the cloak charges the atmosphere to the hundredth degree with rudeness.

“Khramtsova V. I., Khramtsova I. F., Khramtsov! You have some remarks to enter? No?” She simply calls all the plaintiffs this way: “V.I.”, “I.F.”, “T.I.”… Perhaps she is semiliterate, she can only read large letters?

“There are remarks,” responds a tall, thin young man.

“Khramtsov! Speak!” with a tone like ‘here are your alms, now shut up’.

Alexander Khramtsov, who buried his father, a trumpet player in the ‘Nord-Ost’ orchestra, begins, but almost immediately there are tears in his voice:

“My papa traveled the whole world with orchestras and shows. He represented our country and city. It is a loss that can never be made up. Do you really not feel it? It was you who let in the terrorists! They were strolling around here without a care in the world! Yes, and you still haven’t answered for the assault. But why did they take 400 people to Hospital #13, when there were only 50 staff, and couldn’t help everyone? They died before they be helped…”

The lady in the cloak lazily shuffles papers from place to place, in order to do something to kill time. She is bored and sad, and now and then looks out the window.

But Alexander continues. Naturally, turning to the three defendants at a side table, these representatives of ‘the city’, jurists from the government and finance department. Where else can he look? Not at the judge who averts her gaze.

“Why didn’t they bring in at least some interns? Maybe just for the buses? They could have looked after our loved ones while they were being taken to the hospitals.”

“Khramtsov!” the lady interrupts, catching the plaintiff’s eye. “Where are you looking? You have to look at me!”

“Alright…” Alexander turns his head back in the direction of the judge’s chair. “But they drove off, and they suffocated… They drove off, and they suffocated…”

Alex cries.

Strictly speaking, who is this Judge Gorbacheva, who practices at the Tverskoy inter-municipal court in Moscow?

The answer would be kind of simple: she is a representative of one of the branches of our government, whom we support with the taxes we pay to the treasury. That is, the judge lives exclusively on our dime. We pay for her professional services; she is not paying us. Why then has she no respect for the ones who pay her? And we pay Judge Gorbacheva who, instead of showing gratitude and respect, insults us… How has she takes it into her head to, and when she takes it into her head. It all depends on her mood.

Legal culture in our country does not exist; it is like the naked king’s clothes. In truth it is the regime’s court. No one has any illusions, not even little ones: alright, judge, you belong to those who believe that they support us, and that it is not we, the citizenry, who support them, and under fear of loss of rank and privileges you cannot do anything for the unfortunate victims but refuse every one of their demands without exception… All right, let it be so… Let us assume so…

But why then do you have to be so rude? So mocking? Insulting? To beat those who are almost beat to death?

After the decision was made to deny the plaintiffs and the tongue-twister reading made by Citizen Gorbacheva was all in the past and everyone had left the court, only the defendants were left: Yuri Viktorovich Bulgakov — the head of the legal department for the Moscow city finance department, Andrey Evgenevich Rastorguev and Marat Sharipovich Gafurov – counselors from the capital’s rights directorate.

“Well, should we go celebrate?” slipped from a tongue.

“No,” all three suddenly said at once. “We are people. We understand it all… It’s a scandal how our government treats them.”

“How is that? You?”

They fall silent. The Moscow evening has taken us into its dark arms. Some head to warm houses, full of the laughter of relatives and the love of friends. Others go to hollow apartments, forever made empty by October 23rd.

28.13. A “Nord-Ost” victim is buried in absentia

From “Kommersant” ,  July 29th, 2003

By Sergey Topol

Yesterday at the Khiminsky cemetery an urn was buried, which was should have contained the ashes of Gennady Vlakh, who was killed in the theater on Dubrovka after it had been seized by terrorists.  Our correspondent Sergey Topol tells what really was placed in the ground.

Gennady Vlakh's story was told in this year's June 11th issue.  Recall that crane operator Vlakh decided that his son was a hostage of Movsar Baraev, and so he somehow managed to enter the theater on Dubrovka.  There Vlakh was shot to death, but his body was cremated by mistake along with the bodies of the terrorists.  Six months after the incident, the Moscow prosecutor's office was able to reconstruct the 'true name' of the dead man, although his widow and son were not given his ashes for burial.   Getting a funeral for Vlakh took another month and a half.

Last Sunday Gennady Vlakh had a funeral in absentia at the Sergey Radonezhsky Cathedral in Bibirevo.  Father Sergey blessed a clump of earth: «Strew this upon the grave.»  Vlakh relatives left with the soil, and met the following day in section 39 of the Khiminsky cemetery, where Vlakh's mother was buried.

On Monday, when Gennady's relatives gathered together, his photographs were already in frames on a grave marker. His mother-in-law, Galina Petrovna, showed some family pictures: «Here he is just born, here he is on the first day of school, his wedding pictures, 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 350 rubles ($14), our reporter was interested in finding out what was inside.

«They never gave us the ashes. They wouldn't even say where he was,» Galina quietly said. «We couldn't bury it empty, so Mom and I decided to put his soccer shirt in there. He loved to play ball. Also a tea bag, and two candies — truffle and chocolate. We decided not to put any cigarettes in, however. He loved candy with his tea, but he wanted to quit smoking.»

The gravedigger arrives with his shovel. He enters the flower box and starts do dig. When the 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 gravedigger, after packing the urn under clay and specially purchased potting soil, stepped aside.

«Have you ever buried something like this before?» the correspondent asked the gravedigger.

«I've been working in this profession for 15 years, but I don't remember anything like this.  And the older fellows don't remember anything like this, either.  Although… there was something about 3 years ago.  For some reason the morgue wouldn't give a man his father's body, but his distant relatives had already bought tickets to leave, so the fellow bought a coffin and filled it with bricks and buried it all.  Then the next day he had a real funeral.  When the boss found out, it was a big deal, Lord knows.»

In time the farewell ended. Torn up 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 soldiers being buried in section 78,» explained the gravedigger. «They were killed in the Caucasus.»

28.14. “I don’t want to talk to you”

Declared Vladimir Kalchuk, head of the investigative group, in court.


From “Novaya gazeta”April 18th, 2005

By Anna Politkovskaya

On April 15th, in the Zamoskvorech'ye regional court of Moscow, a few dozen people waited in Hall 203 for the miracle of Detective Kalchuk's appearance. Vladimir Ilych Kalchuk is Lord and God to the former 'Nord-Ost' hostages and the family members of those who perished during the terror attack. For 30 months, ever since the terrorists seized the Moscow theater, Kalchuk has been chief of the investigative brigade for the Moscow district distict attorney's office. He holds in his hands the true facts about the tragedy, and the victims awaited and still await any information concerning the circumstances of the death of their loved ones that he can provide.

But Kalchuk is closed fellow, and hard to get to. There are hundreds of stories about him, about how he insulted a few of the 'Nord-Ost' people and would not share any facts with them. At long last, Judge Irina Vasina of the Zamoskvorech'ye court examined a complaint of 'investigative inaction', which was brought by former hostage Svetlana Gubareva, who lost her 13-year old daughter Sasha and American fiancé Sandy Booker at Dubrovka. Detective Kalchuk was officially summoned for questioning in the course of the lawsuit.

Naturally, this meant that Kalchuk would not dare duck out, and people might find out a little bit of the truth. This was the first time in the 30 months after 'Nord-Ost' that anything like this had occurred. (Ms. Gubareva still does not know how her loved ones died, or who tried to save them.)

On April 15th, however, the miracle would simply not come to pass. Mr. Kalchuk showed up, but he dared everything that he had never dared before; he gave the court the 'full Monty'. Here is how it was: the active participants were Svetlana Gubareva as the plaintiff, Karina Moskalenko and Olga Mikhailova as her lawyers. Representing the Moscow district distict attorney's office was Yelena Levshina, and the judge was Irina Vasina.

Karina Moskalenko, director of the International Aid Center, began: «I'd like to know your general opinion. Do you believe that the investigation was complete and objective?»  Then added: “Can I ask about other types of inaction?”

The judge: “No, only within the framework of this petition.”

Moskalenko: “Did you or other members of the investigative group receive Gubareva's petition?”

Kalchuk: “I don't remember. There were so many papers. I remember the plaintiff. (He reads the petition handed to him by Moskalenko.) Yes, I saw something like this.“

Moskalenko: “Gubareva states that you are displaying inaction in the case, that there were concrete questions in the petition, to which she received no answers.”
Kalchuk: “That's her problem. I believe that my answers resolved everything. (The discussion is about the decision of the investigative group to not bring charges against members of the special forces who used gas and did not provide medical assistance to the hostages.— A.P.)

Moskalenko: “But from your answers it's still unknown how and where Gubareva's two loved ones died.”

Kalchuk: “One. Booker was nobody to her, so far as I know.”

Gubareva: “Two!”

Kalchuk (laughing): “Plaintiffs always have these questions. It's always 'invite in anyone you can'.”

Moskalenko: “I simply am repeating those questions that Gubareva asked you in her petition.  These are very important to her. When and where did death come to Letyago Alexandra? In the hospital? In the concert hall?"

Kalchuk (irritated, changing to 'blatnoi' criminal intonation): “Okay, we won't screw around.  I get a lot of these.  Well, where did death come to Letyago?  Ah… I don't remember.”

Moskalenko: “But Gubareva states that you didn't even find out the place of her daughter's death. Agree that this question, like the others, should not remain unanswered for her. Another question: did the investigative group find any substance, which was used by the special forces during the storming (of the theater)?”

Kalchuk: “I relied on official experts. There was nothing written about any kind of gas. That was all just the media.”

Moskalenko: “Well why then, on page 13 of your conclusions, does it state that the use of Nalaxone (a strong-acting medicine used to block the effects of narcotics when treating victims of opiate overdoses — A.P.) didn't play a real role in the condition of the victims?”

Kalchuk:  “Always with the 'why'!  Because this substance is always used.”  (I shall try to provide the needed explanation to the investigator's exclamation: he states that an 'unidentified chemical substance' was found in the blood of practically all 129 of the dead hostages, which in turn means that narcotics were used.— A.P.)

Moskalenko: “Did the investigation make inquiries to identify the substance?”

Kalchuk: “What, are you trying to lecture me? What more do you need? I'm not going to say another word!”

Moskalenko: “But you are before the court.”

Kalchuk (already shouting): “I won't answer. The experts say there was no substance.  That means there wasn't.”

Moskalenko: “Explain for the record, perhaps this is still classified in the investigation?”

Kalchuk (more composed): “Yes, this is classified.  But it is extended until July 19th.”

Moskalenko: “Perhaps before July 19th you will have a reason to change your resolution to drop the criminal case against those members of the special forces who used the gas?”

Kalchuk: “No, there couldn't be.”

Moskalenko: “But in this resolution, I recall once again, there were no questions about the place and time of death of Sasha Letyago.”

Kalchuk: “What 'there'? I don't understand the question. I'm so dull that I don't understand.”

Moskalenko: “Okay, I'll help you. How did Sasha Letyago die? Where was she located after the storming of the theater? This does not compromise your report.”

Kalchuk: “I won't answer you anymore. I'm getting up and will be silent.”

Moskalenko: “The seventh question in Gubareva's petition to you was: why were doctors called to Sandy Booker at 8:30, that is, 2 and a half hours afterwards?”

Kalchuk (interrupting): “I won't answer.”

Moskalenko: “But you determined the circumstances of the victims' deaths?”

Kalchuk: “I don't wish to discuss this theme with you anymore.”

Moskalenko: “But you are in court. You won't answer the judge?”

Kalchuk (openly rude): “No, I won't answer.”

Moskalenko, turning to the judge: “I ask that you provide an answer to the question, which is especially important to Gubareva. How did Sandy Booker die?”

Public prosecutor Levshina openly smiles.

Moskalenko (exploding): “How can the district attorney laugh about this? This is blasphemy.”

District Attorney: “I request the court draw its attention to the attorney's incorrect behavior.” (This was the first time that this government representative, whose function was to protect the interests of the victims above all, had made such a demand.  The district attorney's representative did not make it before Kalchuk’s brazen display of misbehavior, but afterwards. Then she fell silent.— A. P.)

Judge: “And how may I 'provide'?”

Kalchuk (smiling and muttering to the judge): “That means force me to talk.”

Judge to the lawyer: “I don't understand the point of irritating the investigator here. Why are you irritating him?”

Moskalenko: “People require concrete answers to questions, as to why their loved ones perished.”

Kalchuk (though the judge did not address him): “I won't speak anymore — you won't get a thing out of me.”

The judge gives Gubareva permission to ask a question.   Gubareva: “You have no doubts about the experts' findings on the gas?”

Kalchuk: “You are trying to draw me into discussion, so that the media can write: ‘they're just sitting on their butts’. I was called in so that they could make fun of me.”

Gubareva: “Don’t even think that I get satisfaction by returning over and over again to the circumstances of my loved ones’ deaths.”

Kalchuk: “I won't come back. And I won't answer. And don't bother sending me your questions.”

Moskalenko: “But your resolution doesn't answer the questions most important to the plaintiffs.”

Kalchuk: “So?”  Inspector Vladimir Ilych Kalchuk leaves the court.

This was the typical Russian judicial action that was merciless to its victims.  Like the investigation, it was meant to be of some use to the victims. In court there was demonstrated a connection between Inspector Kalchuk, Public Prosecutor Levshina, and Judge Vasina.  At no time was Kalchuk in danger of judicial sanctions; he was sure there would be none.  Once again we find ourselves at a time when those in power, i.e.:  the government, is a new Soviet Union. They act without any regard for the other institutions of government, and openly try to degrade them.  Kalchuk’s brazen behavior in court could only be possible if he was permitted to do so. This is today.  A question: what will WE permit THEM tomorrow? 

PS: The next court date for Svetlana Gubareva is April 25th at 3 PM, in the Zamoskvorech'ye court of Moscow.

 
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