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Condemned Not To BeHeard
, 04 2006

Marina DAYNEKO

The precipice between the government and society cannot be jumped over,
since no one wants to rip their trousers. Thegap, however, continues to widen.
Anna Politkovskaya


The latest 'Say No to Terror!' festival is on May 14th in the concert hall of the Hotel Cosmos in Moscow. Thisactivity, Icannot seem to bring myself to call it a festival, is the third such carried out by the regional organization to assist in the protection of 'Nord-Ost' terror act victims. Inthe organizers' opinions, this action must focus the community's attention on the Russian and Moscow government, which did not learn anything from the 'Nord-Ost' tragedy. Itis high time that all of us, together, all the people in Russia, 'say no' to terrorism and demand that the government take full responsibility, guarantee our security and our collective right to life.

From the festival's press release:
Victims of terrorist acts will gather for the 3rd annual festival so that we may 'SAY NO TO TERROR!' They include victims and relatives of victims from 'Nord-Ost', Beslan, and the Moscow and Volgodonsk apartment blasts; relatives of victims of the destroyed airliners 'Moscow-Sochi' and 'Moscow-Volgograd', victims and relatives of victims from the Moscow subway explosions, as well as other acts of terror.
Among the guests will be politicians and members of the parliament: Boris Nemtsov, Gary Kasparov, Georgiy Satarov, Irina Hakamada, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, Mikhail Kasyanov, as well as the human-rights advocates Lev Ponomarev and Lyudmila Alekseeva.
There will be speeches by leading musicians, singers, and the children's troupe from the musical 'Nord-Ost'.

Svetlana Gubareva will not be participating in the 'festival'.
On October 23rd, 2002, Svetlana, together with her 13-year-old daughter Sasha and American fiancé Sandy Booker, were spectators and later hostages at the musical Nord-Ost. Among those who perished during the rescue operation were Sasha and Sandy. Svetlana survived and is now here in America. Iam speaking with her in my Brooklyn apartment.

- The concept of a 'festival' is usually connected with some happy event. A festival is a show, with music and sort of a holiday mood. Svetlana, you wouldn't happen to know why the 'Say No to Terror' meeting is called a festival?
- Idon't know. Ithink that those who named it really didn't associate it with a show, but with something more like a congregation or gathering. A congregation of those who suffered from acts of terror in various Russian cities. Moreover, this is a chance to gather together and give moral support to eachother.
- Describe your impressions after last year's festival.
- My impressions are various and sundry. There weren't really that many who were in the hall, not as many as we would've liked, and there weren't any representatives from the government at all. Among the spectators weren't just hostages and their relatives, but everyday Muscovites, which was gratifying. Irina Hakamada in her presentation said that we who had suffered from the terror acts were condemned not to be heard. Iagree with this statement. As always, the authorities don't want to hear from us, and don't want to remember us. I was one of the speakers. The night before the festival they announced the verdict of my case against the government, or Ishould say that they pronounced sentence. Therefore, Italked about the quality of the investigation, and how justice was served.
The day before the Zamoskvoretski Moscow district court conducted a 'marathon of passing off Svetlana Gubareva's demands to the Moscow city prosecutor's office'. Thisis how journalist Anna Politkovskaya termed it. The session actually finished off the investigation into the October 2326, 2002, terror act. Questions about how, when, where and why Sasha Letyago and Sandy Booker died, however, remained. Did they die in the theater hall during the 'rescue' operation, or at the hospital? Where and how were they provided medical assistance, and what exactly did they die from? All these simple questions remained unanswered.
- How are the victims from the acts of terror at 'Nord-Ost' doingnow?
- To say that they are still alive would be a little too cheerful. Most likely you could say that they are surviving. Tatiana Lukashova, who lost her daughter, recently suffered her third heart attack. Natalia Kurbatova, the mother of 13-year-old Kristina Kurbatova, who played the role of Katya in the play and died during the rescue, was once again hospitalized recently for heavy neuroses. Sasha Stahl lost his hearing and is an invalid. Twelve of the survivors lost their hearing. Tamara Starkova, who was seriously wounded by terrorists and survived a miraculous operation and a month in intensive care, is also completely disabled. But we don't give up. We continue to seek justice.
- They showed Putin meeting with the Beslan mothers on Russian TV. Did you meet the president of Russia?
No, Putin didn't meet with the 'Nord-Ost' mothers. Ten days after the assault the Kremlin invited representatives of the theatrical company, headed by the show's producer Georgiy Vasilev. He was with us in the hall from start to finish, and Ieven heard that Movsar Baraev even proposed to let him go, but Vasilev refused. I watched their meeting with Putin on the news. By the way, among the group invited by Putin we saw 11-year-old Gleb Bauer. He was presented as a former hostage, but he was never in the hall with us. The organizers of meeting probably wanted to show how the gas didn't affect the health of the children, and so showed the whole world a healthy boy (who was never there).
- The producers of the musical, as far as Iknow, were Vasilev, Ivashchenko, and Tsekalo. Vasilev was there with you, but where wererest?
- That evening Tsekalo was not at the theater at all, but Ivashchenko and a group of actors jumped out a window from the make-up room. If you remember, they spoke about a man who broke his ankle fleeing the theater. This was Ivashchenko.
- Iknow that you and several other victims sent documents for examination by the International Court in Strasbourg. What do you personally expect from thiscourt?
- An unbiased assessment of that Russian government's actions. Right now Ican state precisely that the investigation into our case was neither honest nor legal. There were outright falsifications and distortions throughout the case materials.
- For example?
- For example, from the materials of criminal case, it was stated that Alexander Karpov's body was examined at the morgue earlier than it was even transported from Dubrovka. The prosecutor's office declared that 130were killed during the hostage rescue operation. After adding up lists of 'Nord-Ost' victims brought to various hospitals, lists provided by the same office, the total count was not 130, but 174. I can come up with many other examples. We put all this information together in the report, which will be handed out to participants in the 'Say No to Terror' festival on May 14th.
- Why and by whom was this document prepared?
- We who directly participated in the events at 'Nord-Ost' wrote this report. We believe that the world must know the truth about what is going on, and we even hope that the report will attract the attention of international human rights organizations. Crimes, such as those at 'Nord-Ost' and Beslan, must become objects of an independent, international investigation.
- Were representatives of international human rights organizations invited to your festival?
- No, unfortunately we don't as yet have contacts with these organizations, but we greatly wish to establishsome.
- While speaking before the guests at last year's 'festival', Gary Kasparov said: We must make the government acknowledge that an individual's life is more important than any necessity of the state. To me these words sound only like rhetoric. Isit really possible to make the Russian government acknowledge anything?
- A lonely undertaking by Svetlana Gubareva, probably, would not be able to, but one greatly wishes to believe that a group of citizens, if not Russian, then from elsewhere in the world, could attain this. Justlike the fairy tale about the broom, which was impossible to break, except one straw at a time.

Svetlana Gubareva buried her daughter in Moscow at the Troekurovskiy cemetery. Herethere are six other graves of those killed at Dubrovka. Sasha's monument bears the inscription: Alexandra Letyago, July 16th, 1989 October 26th, 2002. Sheperished during the assault on 'Nord-Ost'.


A worker at cemetery once told Svetlana that she should not have made the inscription perished it was very painful for him to walk by and read this.


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