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Cover-up operation
Written by   
, 26 2002
The story of the hostages is ridiculous to the point of tears, hysterical laughter, almost to the point of smashing your fist against the wall. Thisis the laughter of impotence, the laughter of pain, the laughter of sympathy and misunderstanding of what tookplace.

I must admit that Isincerely pity those who must decide the fates of men, women, and children in distress.
I cannot imagine how hard it is in principle to solve the unsolvable: to snatch hostages from the clutches of terrorists whose strength comes from the barrel of a gun and explosives, but whose weakness is in their impossible demands. Ifind it funny, however, to listen to these brilliant bureaucrats and look at the security officials and other “masters” of this world who flood the airwaves and gravely speak of “the dire situation”. Icould not rid myself of the feeling that all of them, without exception, were engaged in some kind of special, high-stakes, officially sanctioned game of chance. Evena name came to mind, something along the lines of “Cover your butt” or “Increase your ratings” or perhaps even both, separated by a dash. Areelections just around the corner, gentlemen? Isthis the reason?
It is a pity that the heads of the security agencies cannot organize competent coverage of the events. Itis too bad that journalists are forced to sneak in, even crawling on their bellies, even using fraud and bribery to perform their professional duty by harassing those involved in the operation with their whining and threats. Theresult of their “work” is obvious: monstrous “exclusives”, controversy, misinformation, and reports of an impending assault that endanger the prisoners and devastate the security forces.
It just so happened that inside the building on number 7Melnikov Street were two of our staff members: Anna Andrianova and Zhanna Tolstova. Anyakeeps in constant telephone contact with the editorial offices, reporting terrorist demands and sometimes her personal observations. Doyou know whom the prisoners blame for the fact that the children have still not been released? Television personalities. Whenthe terrorists saw that NTV broadcast, without sound, footage from inside the building (the so-called “Barayev Interview” by Dedukh and Peredelsky ed), the coming release of a group of children was cancelled. Itis easy to guess how this happened: the broadcast was censored by counterintelligence. Mydear ‘Chekists’, you cannot ruin children! Theycould have been free last night.
I am not talking about the criminal unwillingness of law enforcement officials to cooperate with media editorial offices that have important information for the authorities. According to ‘Moskovskaya Pravda’, information derived from Anya should have summoned special interest “wherever necessary”. Though strange, so far it is only important to us.
Many employees at ‘Moskovskaya Pravda’ had to set aside their usual work to mediate between the bandits and the people with whom they were willing to negotiate. Evenhere, however, ‘MP’ journalists clashed with the bureaucratic machine, which is really only useful in peacetime.
But now there is war, a war between society and terrorism. Where did this wall of misunderstanding come from? Arewe not really involved in the same task? Or, perhaps, do we disagree on the desired results? WEwish to see these people ALIVE, but YOU? Whycould the Moscow police not give us the telephone number of the operational headquarters, so that a hostage ‘MP’ employee, in accordance with the demands of the bandits, could convey some information? Whycould an employee of the municipal police office of information and public relations not immediately connect us with her superiors? Answer me this!
It is probable that Yevgeny Maximovich Primakov, with whom, according to Anya, Movsar Barayev was ready to speak, will give the answer during a reception. Reader, you will not believe it, but an assistant of this Member of Parliament dryly asked for Anna’s cell phone number: “I’ll call her up and find out what her problem is!” Ifeel shame for Yevgeny Maximovich’s team. Letme remind you that Anya, like hundreds of other unfortunates, is located next to bombs and under the gun! Itis safe to assume that it is not out of spiritual malice that the hostages are tearing Primakov away from steering the governmental machine.
Fortunately, not all officials have to compromise with their consciences and only worry about their ratings and job titles. Whenthe terrorists, once again through Anya, and she, through us, expressed their desire to communicate with the former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, he did not treat us like journalists, but like citizens who understand the situation and have expressed a willingness to participate in complex negotiations. Evenif you eventually end up with the usual posturing in front of the cameras, it is still more humane than this vacuous bureaucracy.
It is both scary and sad that while bureaucrats and security officials play by their rules, hundreds of captives for three days have been on the brink of life and death. Forthe government men, however, they have ceased to be human beings they are transformed intounits.

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