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About the Russian Federation's upholding 'Nord-Ost'
Written by   
, 24 2003
http://www.hro.org/war/nord/10_03/24_10_03.htm

Declaration of the Russian NGO human rights observers at the 79th session of the UN Human Rights Committee: About the Russian Federation's upholding the right to life during the course of the special operation in the theatrical center on Dubrovka.



On October 23-24th, 2003, during the course of the UN Human Rights Committee's examination of the Russian Federation's 5th periodic report on its fulfillment of the International Treaty on Civil and Political Rights, the Russian delegation presented its view on the (human rights) situation (in Russia) for the last 8years. Weare do not agree with the official report, and this is natural. Ourestimate of this situation is expressed in our Alternative Report, which we have presented to the Committee.

However, the Russian delegation's position with regards to the events in the theatrical center on Dubrovka, which was paraphrased by FSB representative Viktor Milchenko, are so unacceptable that we consider it necessary to speak out on this question.
The Russian federation reported to the Committee that 129hostages had died as a result of the actions of the terrorists and by no means at the hands of the special forces who carried out a counter-terrorist operation. A criminal case is being investigated in accordance with the statutes on terrorism and murder, but, in principle, no questions were introduced on the responsibilities of the competent parties in the deaths of the hostages.

The FSB representative declared that negotiations were held for several days with the terrorists, but did not state that there were no authorized negotiators allotted. Theonly purpose of the negotiations was to make time for preparing the assault.

The FSB representative reported that the assault was brought on by the murder of several hostages by the terrorists, but in reality there was considerable time between these events.

The FSB representative maintained that it was only because of the rapid actions of the special forces that the terrorists were unable to blow up the building. Itwas this necessity to quickly knock the terrorists out of action that was the grounds for using the sleep gas. Inreality, the assault lasted dozens of minutes, during which time the terrorists had ample opportunity to set off their explosives. Thefemale terrorists in the hall had several minutes after the gas was released before losing consciousness.

The words of the FSB representative, about the theatrical center being located in the center of the city and that an explosion there could kill millions of people, are not even worth commentingon.

One can agree that the use of the special substance was calculated in detail, but only in order to destroy the terrorists, not to rescue the hostages. Hisinsistence that people did not die from being poisoned by the gas (and an independent parliamentary commission confirmed this), but because the hostages did not drink or eat and were morally and psychologically depressed and there was no possibility of rendering timely medical assistance, contradicting the latest story about the presence of thousands of doctors and hundreds of ambulances arriving one after the other. In reality, there were not enough physicians, or transportation, and most important information about what kind of gas was used and what medicines could be used to bring people out of their comas. Whentime should have been measured in minutes, hours went by. Theheadquarters staff that prepared this brilliant operation had not bothered themselves with the planning the rescue of the poisoned civilians.

The FSB representative stressed that the special forces acted within the framework of the law without a single deviation, but forgot to mention that the Russian law governing fighting terrorism excuses participants in counter-terrorist operations from any responsibility for damage they cause, including the death of people.

Exactly one year ago the (Russian) government refused to protect these persons' right to life, a right that is reinforced in Article 6of the International Treaty on Civil and Political Rights. Notonly that, it continues to defend its correctness, obviously believing that the UN experts will swallow this obvious lie under the slogan of the war on terrorism. Such an approach to constructive dialogue is, to say the least, irresponsible and demonstrates their disrespect for the Committee's experts as well as the memory of the victims of 'Nord-Ost'.

October 24th, 2003
Geneva

Alexander Axelrod, ToleranceFund
Yuri Jibladze, Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
Tatiana Lokshina, Moscow HelsinkiGroup
Karinna Moskalenko, Center for Cooperation in International Defense
Alexander Cherkasov, Memorial Rights Protection Center
Olga Shepeleva, Nizhny Novgorod Committee against Torture
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