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10 years on
Written by Mark Franchetti   
Воскресенье, 07 Октябрь 2012

10 years on, victims rage at Putin's silence over siege disaster

Mark FranchettiAS SHE prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the Moscow theatre siege, one of Russia’s worst terrorist attacks, in which her American fiancé and 13-year-old daughter died, the anguish of Svetlana Gubareva has intensified, as has her anger with President Vladimir Putin.

Prosecutors still have not completed their inquiry into the deaths of 130 hostages who were held at gunpoint by Chechen terrorists for 57 hours. To the fury of survivors and relatives of the dead, even provisional findings have not been made public.

“A decade later, I’m still waiting to be told how my daughter Sasha was killed, and who bears responsibility for her death,” said Gubareva, who survived a rescue operation in which a powerful gas was pumped into the building before special forces stormed it.

“Sasha was gassed and then crushed in a bus that took her to hospital, under 32 other bodies stacked like logs. She could have been saved had the rescue not been botched. Foremost I blame Putin; he ordered the gas to be used and it’s on his watch that the truth has been covered up for so long.”

Gubareva, 53, and other ex-hostages had their case against the Russian government upheld by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year, which ruled that the government should pay “moral compensation” to the 60 survivors and relatives of the dead bringing the case. So far payments of between £11,000 and £22,000 have been made.

More significantly for the families, the court rejected claims by the government that the gas pumped into the theatre to put the terrorists to sleep was harmless, and described the rescue operation as “flawed in many respects”. It also criticised the authorities’ “failure to conduct an effective investigation”.

Repeated calls for officials to divulge the nature of the gas have been rebuffed, the government classifying it as a “state secret”. Despite overwhelming evidence that many hostages died because of the negligence of emergency services, not one official has been held accountable. In fact four top-ranking individuals, one the inventor of the gas, were given the highest “Hero of Russia” accolade.

“The official Russian investigation is no more than a smokescreen,” said Tatyana Karpova, whose son Alexander, 31, died. “From day one, its aim was to bury the truth.”

Sasha’s death certificate states that she was a “victim of terrorism”, and the authorities have blamed hostage deaths on chronic illness, and deprivation of sleep, food and drink, as well as the stress of the three-day siege. The European court dismissed this as “unthinkable”, and ruled: “It is safe to conclude that the gas was a primary cause of death of a large number of the victims.”

On October 23, 2002, more than 800 people watching a musical were seized by at least 40 heavily armed Chechen terrorists, including 18 female suicide bombers. The gunmen, demanding the end of conflict in their homeland, shot five people dead and threatened to blow up the building.

Gubareva and her fiancé, Sandy Booker, had bought tickets for the musical to celebrate her being granted a visa for America. She later negotiated the release of non-Russian hostages with Movsar Barayev, the terrorist leader.

On day two of the stand-off, I twice talked my way into the building to interview the militants, who released the British hostage Peter Low to me.

Wearing camouflage and a black woollen beret, and cradling an AK-47, Barayev, 23, exuded confidence when I met him in the theatre, which was surrounded by Russian snipers and special forces troops. He appeared unmasked in the interview I filmed, swearing on the Koran and declaring: “I crave to die more than you crave to live.”

“This is a dream come true,” he said, hours before he and his accomplices were killed by anti-terrorist forces. “Our task was to come here and take hostages. We have done that. Now we have no plans to leave with the hostages. We don’t care. Our aim is not to stay alive, it is to force Russian troops out of Chechnya.” While the operation to enter the building was all but flawless militarily, the emergency services’ efforts were a shambles. There were not enough ambulances or doctors, choking hostages were dumped on the street, and the dead and dying were piled up in buses whose drivers did not know the way to hospital — some victims reached it only six hours after the siege ended.

Gubareva last saw Sasha alive when the two fell asleep a few hours before the gas was pumped in. After coming out of a coma, she took two days to find the bodies of her daughter and Booker. Doctors later confirmed Sasha had been crushed under a bus-load of victims.

“They say time heals but in my case it absolutely does not,” said Gubareva. “Every year the pain becomes harder to bear, and that is worsened by the truth being hidden. I won’t give up until I know the names of those who are to blame.”

The Sunday Times


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  Comments (2)
1. Written by уке, on 28-01-2013 23:15
Изобретатель химического газа — Гончаров Валери Михайлович.
2. Админу о комментарии
Written by Анна, on 01-02-2013 02:00
1. Если автор сообщает чьи-то данные, то неплохо самому назвать хотя бы свое имя.
2. Имя любого человека следует писать правильно.
3. Выражение «изобретатель химического газа» с точки зрения русского языка находится за гранью добра и зла.
4. Гончаровых Валериев Михайловичей на 140 миллионов населения, даже с учетом подходящего возраста и проживания в большом городе, многовато будет. Где хоть какие-то детали и, главное, доказательства? Все это просто бредовый анонимный донос.






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имя.
2. Имя любого человека следует писать правильно.
3. Выражение «изобретатель химического газа» с точки зрения русского языка находится за гранью добра и зла.
4. Гончаровых Валериев Михайловичей на 140 миллионов населения, даже с учетом подходящего возраста и проживания в большом городе, многовато будет. Где хоть какие-то детали и, главное, доказательства? Все это просто бредовый анонимный донос.

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