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Face to face with Grigory Yavlinsky
Written by   
, 27 2002

Andrei Shary: We will be talking about the drama of the spectators and actors from the musical ‘Nord-Ost’, which was taken hostage by a Chechen unit under the command of Movsar Barayev.

The act of terrorism was committed late in the evening at Dubrovka. Onthe night of Friday-Saturday the terrorists were neutralized. Official data on the outcome of the special operation are as follows: more than 750hostages were released, 34terrorists killed, 2arrested, and the victims of the tragedy are at least a hundred people and this number, unfortunately, is rising.

What will be the political and social consequences of these events in Russia? Howwill Moscow now go about its policies in Chechnya? These three nights of terror were they a victory or a defeat for the security services? Answering these questions on ‘Radio Liberty’ is Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the ‘Yabloko’ Democratic Party of Russia.

Asking him questions will be Gisbert Mrozek, Moscow correspondent for the German news agency ‘RUFO’, and Valery Vyzhutovich, columnist for ‘Moskovskie Novosti’. Moderating the program is AndreiShary.

Grigory Alexeyevich (Yavlinsky), today we will make do without our usual format, so there will be no biographies because of this situation.

Yesterday on the air, one of our listeners assessed the results of the special operation, as well as the behavior of the Russian leadership during this crisis, and she said something along the lines of: “We felt that a just power with us.” How would you assess their approach? Andas a citizen of Russia, how would you assess the government’s actions during these threedays?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Ihave to say right off that Icannot give a complete assessment right now. Itwould be irresponsible on my part, and, by the way, Iwould like to encourage everyone to be extremely attentive to the situation in and of itself, and to its lessons as well as everything that wenton.

The fact is that today some very important elements of the situation are very unclear. Wedo not know how many people we lost. Wedo not know the dynamics of the situation. Wedo not know what exactly was done, or even why it was done, once we understand what wasdone.

I would like to tell our listeners everything right off the bat, but, unfortunately, it is still too early and we cannot evaluate it as a whole. Yesterday, for example, Ispent a lot of time in various hospitals. Italked with these people and watched what was happening to them. Italked with the doctors. Thiswas all absolutely necessary in order to understand things. Today there will be meeting with representatives of security services, and we will try to find out what really went on, and why. Andgradually, but rather quickly, we will be getting information so that we can move objectively. Theinformation as it appears will allow us to draw conclusions.

Here is my political assessment, and its main feature is the fact that the information speaks for itself. Thisinformation tells us whether they got all the militants, or if some of them got away, because right from the start there have been contradictory statements. Howmany victims were there, what was done for them, and what will be the aftereffects? Therefore, we need a little more patience and a little more than the usual fairness in making our assessments that is what the situation calls fortoday.

Andrei Shary: Nevertheless, Gregory Alexeyevich, and Irespect and accept your point of view, but you know or should know a lot more than ordinary citizens or even more than we do, as journalists, even though we were closely following the developments. Atthe level of your current knowledge, are you ready make give some sort of an assessment? Youcan say, “No, I’m not ready.” Are you ready to make some kind of an assessment? Whatseems fundamentally important to me is how the authorities as a wholeacted.

Grigory Yavlinsky: It is possible today to make some technical assessments. Thisis an important component, but today it is certainly insufficient, inadequate. Thiscould have been said two days ago, or even yesterday morning, but right now a technical assessment is not enough. Anypolitical assessment made today would be useless, since there is insufficient information. Itis hard right now to discuss indigenous issues connected with the war in this situation, the war that is, as a matter of fact, going on in Chechnya, because such events carry the character of the changing political reality. Hereis an event that has happened in Moscow, and it will change the political reality.

I can tell you what Ido know: there were several options being worked out, and Iwas directly involved in working on one of them. These options were later presented to the President, and, as a matter of fact, not later, they were constantly being examined interactively. Thedecision was made, and we still do not fully understand what that was, but it was based on the experiences and views of those authorized to offer such an option in such events, and decided by those authorized to make such a decision. Ican say that the work was continuous. Ican say that it caused enormous stress for all senior executives. Ican say that Imyself spent practically two days, almost never leaving the Kremlin, discussing these issues and developing different scenarios. Atthe last meeting with the President, Iactually said that there are two possible solutions, but only one person could decide on one or the other, and he is the one who makes the final decision, and, therefore, takes full responsibility. Andwe know what decision wasmade.

But Imust tell you that it was made without disclosing the contents of the decision to anyone, and Iwas not made aware of the details of the decision.

Gisbert Mrozek: Still, Ihave a question. Although it is clear that it is impossible just now to assess the subtleties of it, and there is not enough information to analyze its impact, but what about an overall assessment as to whether or not the assault was a victory over terrorism? Whatwould yousay?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Iwould say that there has been a terrible tragedy, a terrible tragedy. Iwould say, and Iwould like to say that Iwish to convey my sorrow and the sorrow of all who were with me in discussions during those days, and to convey my condolences to the relatives of those killed, and my sympathy to those who suffered. Because for all the former (hostages) who were at this time in that hall, this thing will not pass without leaving lasting effects, both from a psychological, moral, and, Ibelieve in terms of physical health, unfortunately.

Gisbert Mrozek: Because they used thegas.

Grigory Yavlinsky: Because they used some special substance, and we still do not know which. Somy overall assessment is that this is not about terrorism, in terms of my assessment. Thisis my assessment: it is a terrible tragedy. Thatis what Icansay.

Gisbert Mrozek: Do you think it might have been possible to prevent this tragedy?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Here lies complexity of today’s assessments. Whycan we not come to a final conclusion? Because of this, Ihave to utter this banal phrase: “History has no subjunctive tenses.” Iwas there, Italked with these people, and Ican tell you with full accountability that, to the best of my understanding, we could not count on anything definitively. There were people before you of a certain type that, no matter what, it was absolutely impossible to anticipate a thing, or be sure of anything. Thatis, one could, with varying degrees of probability, offer different solutions, but weighing these was impossible. There could be only one criterion, and, as in every case where there is not enough information, it is a moral criterion, so let us say. Iacted in accordance withthis.

But in every case, to specifically assess the likelihood of every development Thatwould have been unthinkable, simply unthinkable.

Valery Vyzhutovich: Why did you not look at going outside the box with this option, and make some sort of concession to the terrorist demands? Could Putin, risking his political reputation, rating

Andrei Shary: If not his career.

Valery Vyzhutovich: If not his career, yes, could he at least have stated his readiness to make a troop withdrawal, of excess troops as Oleg Mironov, Commissioner for Human Rights, put it. Whyis this option not being considered right now, and did they consider it at the Kremlin, if you were participating in these consultations?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Imeant what was considered were several options, for each particular action there was this or that option. There were not many, in my view there were two options, and Iworked on one while the other was worked out without my participation. Butthe point here is not the President’s career. Thefact is, firstly, tomorrow you might get the same situation in some kindergarten in Penza, then in Rostov, and then with a school and later once again with a hospital. Thishas no end, and that is what everyone understands.

Secondly, yes, this guaranteed absolutely nothing! Itdid not guarantee a thing here! There was, so to speak, in quotation marks, Iwould put this in quotation makes, or even in parentheses, there was a “negotiating partner” from whom you could expect every three minutes a change of every position, he would “press” you with tremendous force to do anything. “But you didn’t make the right statement, you did such and such, and we were told from there that even if it was stated, it wasn't just right” It was impossible, and when they tell you: “We’re going to start shooting someone every three hours” or “now we're going to blow up everyone” believe me, there were simply no good solutions.

After they seized 800or how many there were people that were sitting there, there was no such solution that you could arrive at coolly. Thisis for a special “negotiator”.

Valery Vyzhutovich: Okay. Butafter what we got now, is there any guarantee that this will not happenagain?

Grigory Yavlinsky: There are no guarantees when dealing with terrorism, not for anyone, in anything, not ever. Butyou have to choose some sort of logic. Sohere is the logic of say, roughly speaking, like the Israelis, right? Andthere is another logic negotiations. There has been such a precedent, right? Butyou have to choose some kind of logic. Ideliberately said that those who made the decisions were people who made it based on their experiences and views. Andyou should not forget that as well. Yousee, Ihave my views and Iwould take another, a different solution based on my views, and would have taken upon myself the responsibility. ButI cannot pretend that Ican replace anyone in this regard, Ihave no such authority.

So, we must, respectfully and with patience, relate to what we have here, because there are additional factors as well. Whatkind of security services do we have, and in what shape are they? Whatis actually possible and who will carry it all out? Thisis not an abstract conversation. Itwas there, only three kilometers from the Kremlin. Ithad to be solved. Itwas later that they came up with the idea that it was in Dubrovka, in some other city. People were asking: “Is that some town, some village?” What village? Youknow, it was right nextdoor.

Therefore, we should be very seriously weighing every word and evaluating it all, because this also affects the lives and health of people. There were no harmless options. There were no guaranteed options, and there never will. Thisiswar.

Andrei Shary: Grigory Alexeyevich, for all three days we were almost continuously on the air, for more than 60hours. Thewhole time Itried to understand it all, and a question bothers me: what was the logic of these people? Youtalked to Barayev personally. Whatcan you say about this? Wereyou able to understand a little of what made themtick?

Grigory Yavlinsky: These people were very young, twenty-one or twenty-two years of age. These people, Ido not even know if they went to school or not, because they grew up during the war. These were people whose style of what they did was in almost everything. Theyseemed to have reached the top of their “professional” (in quotes) careers. There were these people, very young, very, veryyoung.

Andrei Shary: And the price, the price of this success, their lives, this did not bother them atall?

Grigory Yavlinsky: But that is the way the game is played. Bythe way, at their age the value of life is completely different. There they said a lot along those lines to me. Herethey would say: “Our demand is to stop the war.” Isaid: “I understand. Nowexplain what this means.” The question, “what does this mean?” confused them. Theywere lost on this issue. Theycould not answer the question. “Well how? However you started the war, that’s how you end it.”

I said, “let’s try to break this down into simple parts” and that caused them confusion, and confusion causes irritation

Andrei Shary: Andanger.

Grigory Yavlinsky: Certainly. Andeverything, and that was it and we had to start all over again. Thisis a special matter, how to do itall.

But these were entirely very young people who had no experience in politics or negotiation. Ican tell you, that if someone sentthem

Andrei Shary: Did you find out if someone sent them, ornot?

Grigory Yavlinsky: They said that they had a commander that made all the decisions forthem.

Andrei Shary: You would not know who this was? Maskhadov?

Grigory Yavlinsky: No. Asfar as Maskhadov, they said that they recognize him, that he is their president, and that, of course, if he said something to them or appealed to them, that would be it, but Igot the impression that it was not about him they were talking when they were talking about their commander or someonethere.

Gisbert Mrozek: There was information that there were also some veterans, so to speak, of Budennovsk. Didyou see themthere?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Listen, Italked with their commander and two of his deputies. Everyone else in the room was wearing a mask. Idid not see them. Maybe there were people who were older, but none of them participated in the negotiations. Anyway, Iam talking about those who participated in the negotiations. Iwant to say that the combination that was thought up was like this. Itwas more of a whetstone, sort of a tool for carrying out the whole thing. There were no real political negotiations or any structure intended to what they were saying. Theycould not articulate athing.

Valery Vyzhutovich: They were not programmed to achieve any positive end? Theyentered this dead end on purpose? Theyunderstood that it was a dead end from which there was no wayout?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Igot the impression that they were programmed to do two things. First, they were to carry out this thing, and they were infinitely pleased that it was technically possible and repeated that every two minutes. Thiswas my first impression. Andsecondly, my impression was that they were programmed to the fact that they would die, and there was this bravado, almost as if it were joy. Thatis everything. Though it is true, that it did not mean that they specifically approached it like that, at the same time there was the fact that they wanted to say it all the time and put you in such a position that you found it difficult to argue or do anything in general.

Well, if a person says: “But for me” How did they put it? Theysaid: “We want to die more than you want to live.” When such a thing is stated, the grounds for negotiating disappear. Andthey demonstrated this bravado.

Gisbert Mrozek: A question. Insuch a situation, what did you suggest as an alternative solution? Ifit is even possible, of course, to talk about it at all. Yousaid that you participated in the planning, but it was rejected, or not accepted, so tospeak.

Grigory Yavlinsky: There was another direction. Itwas associated with using incremental steps in an attempt to work out the problem there, to dissect it into parts and to try, step by step, to exchange each part for hostages, to move in that direction.

Andrei Shary: Grigory Alexeyevich, Istill do not understand one thing, and if you can, please explain this to me, it is in regard to the fact that you met with the President, and with Voloshin there, and, Ido not know, with generals from the KGB, the FSB. Iunderstand the reasons why in principle they were looking for certain people who these terrorists could trust, and, judging from what you are saying, Ido not think that they even knew very well who you were, for example. Theywere so uneducated, and so forth. Clearly there could have been Aslakhanov, Khasbulatov, maybe these names might have meant something to them, but Iam not so sure about this either.

However, as far as we know, did they not put forward some demands that someone from the Kremlin come to them, someone with some authority who could decide something? Wasthis the correct tactic, that they did not send anyone for a long time, that Kazantsev was appointed to be the president's representative? Already after they promised to shoot hostages, it was already clear, for example, here in the editorial offices that we could expect something because the deputy interior minister said that they were changing the rules for the broadcasting from there, am Iright? Nomore live broadcasts. Thatwas the best indicator that something was going to happen that night, something the authorities would find hard to let me have as a professional journalist. Overhere right away we sent everybody out in all directions, we were all waiting because it was obvious that something was going to happen that night, but it was only at that point that they appointed Kazantsev. Doyou have any explanation forthis?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Yes, it was the principled position of the President that the State would not negotiate. Thishad been one of the options.

Andrei Shary: So you were not there as representative of the State? Youwent in there as a private person?

Grigory Yavlinsky: No. First of all, Idid not have that authority, and secondly, though Iwas in constant contact with the administration and the President himself, but Idid it on my own initiative and, in fact, on their behalf as well. Butit was our joint work. Ihad no such authority to go to up them and say: “I am authorized to do this or that and declare the following to you.” Ihad no such authority.

Andrei Shary: If Iam drawing the right conclusion from what you are saying, they appointed Kazantsev when they realized that an assault was inevitable and there would be no negotiations?

Grigory Yavlinsky: If you were to ask this question of the administration, they would have told you: “We never removed him and he was always authorized by the President to negotiate there with Zakayev, with Maskhadov And that’s why we didn’t remove him. That’s why, when the situation began to deteriorate, we just invited him, but the President never removed his authority.” That is what they would tellyou.

Andrei Shary: But now this tactic of inviting you, or your participation, or consenting to your participation and the participation of Anna Politkovskaya, who brought water into there, and so on and so forth. Inthese negotiations, how did the people in charge of the situation in the country perceive it, was this a correct decision?

Grigory Yavlinsky: It was a tactical decision, and the headquarters and the specialists sitting there, they felt that it was the right thing to do. Ifthey wanted to talk with someone, let them talk. Ithink that the country’s political leadership reacted to this as a technical decision that was thrust upon them. Thatis what Ithink, though in this case Igot the sanction afterwards, Ireceived this offer, Ibecame aware of the offer when Iwas in the city of Tomsk at the funeral of a close colleague of mine, and Idiscussed this sanction for a meeting right away with the Kremlin. Why? Because it would have been absolutely senseless, really quite pointless to go in there, without any sanction on the part of the Kremlin. Itwould just be an empty exercise.

Gisbert Mrozek: Like manysuch

Grigory Yavlinsky: Just completely empty! Quite unnecessary, yes? Sotherefore it was absolutely necessary. There was a sanction, and there had been the wholetime.

Andrei Shary: Valery Vyzhutovich, it is yourturn.

Valery Vyzhutovich: How much were the people who went in to see the terrorists Dr. Roshal, Politkovskaya, and yourself how free were they afterwards to communicate with the press, in their comments that they made in front of the cameras? Yousaid that you think, you feel, or you sense that your every word had been agreed to in advance with the operational headquarters and with the security services?

Grigory Yavlinsky: As for me, Isimply did not talk to the press intentionally.

Valery Vyzhutovich: Imean these people who did come out and gave interviews anyway.

Grigory Yavlinsky: Ican only speak for myself. Noone put any restrictions on me. Iput them on myself because Ithought it was totally wrong from any standpoint and very irresponsible and unprofessional. Here, even what Itold you just now Iwould have never started saying these things during the time of these contacts because they could watch everything, they sat and watched TV. Whywould Itry to disorient them, for what? Whatwould be the point? So, Iconsidered it to all to be confidential, and the development of the plan, and the other option, this was very detailed and step-by-step in every element. Itwas not clear what plan would be used, but Ithought it necessary in any case to discuss none of it in public. Ihad no task. Whatcould Iadd to all of this? Whatdid Ithink about the people who were in there? Thiswas not the first time Ihave conducted such negotiations, the hardest kind, with the Chechens. Thiswas probably the third time, and Ijust knew for a fact that nothing good was ever going to come out ofthis.

Andrei Shary: Grigory Alexeyevich, by the way, did they speak Russianwell?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Quite normally.

Andrei Shary: Without an accent? Thatis to say, they say that the generationthat

Grigory Yavlinsky: Well, a very heavy accent.

Andrei Shary: With a very heavy accent, right?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Yes, and they even had some difficulties. Theyeven made the stated the following reservation: “Perhaps we don’t understand everything and can’t express ourselves in everything.” This is the way it was. Theywere very young, veryyoung.

Gisbert Mrozek: Yesterday you were in hospital and spoke with the released hostages, with patients. Howare getting along? Whyare so many of themdying?

Grigory Yavlinsky: It is a very difficult situation, a difficult situation. Because these people have suffered, there is a complex of things that they went through and the most important thing is that a lot of them were poisoned, and felt poisoned, and tests show that there was a very serious poisoning.

Gisbert Mrozek: Fromwhat?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Some substances were used which have severe effects. Forexample, increased serum enzymes indicate the strongest poisoning, a severe poisoning. Whattheir dynamics are going to be and what their prospects are, these depend on what was actually used. Itdepends on the condition of a specific person and depends on where he was sitting in the hall, that is, how much of a dose he just got and how fast he was taken outside into the street, and it depends on how professionally the doctors treated him when he did get to the doctors. Whatother illnesses he had, how healthy he was before it all happened. There is a whole pile of all sorts of fundamentals and so this is a serious trauma for people, from every point ofview.

Gisbert Mrozek: Is what they used really notknown?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Ido not know. Everyone whom Iasked, including the doctors, they do notknow.

Gisbert Mrozek: Even the doctors do notknow?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Ido not know, and none of the doctors with whom Ispoke said that theyknew.

Gisbert Mrozek: If it is possible, one more question. Whatdid they look like, the hostages with whom youspoke?

Grigory Yavlinsky: There were all sorts. These were people who had just suffered such a strong psychological trauma that they could not adequately assess the situation going on around them. There were others who felt better. There you have it. Ofcourse, there exists that completely insane, in my view, situation with the relatives, that the hospitals are closed to them and no one can get inthere.

Andrei Shary: But why is no one is allowed in? Doyou have an answer to this? Didsomeone at the top give this order, or is it because the hospitals are simply overwhelmed? Oris it because they do not want anyone to see what condition these people arein?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Ithink this is so, apart from the bureaucratic nonsense, what is behind all of this is the desire to hide something, or to not show something, and to make sure that something remains secret. Inmy opinion that makes everything worse. People today all but stormed the 13th hospital. Suchan attitude towards the relatives after a trauma like this is completely inexplicable. Everyone is looking for eachother.

Therefore, Isaid that today it is still impossible to assess what went on. This, of course, has been a huge shock for Moscow, and it is also very difficult to receive 800people in this serious situation, in serious condition. There is also the matter of the rescue service, which also turned out to be vulnerable, and there is also the riot police who went in there, and rescue workers who went in immediately after them, they are also there among the victims.

Valery Vyzhutovich: Judging from the fact that relatives are not allowed into the hospitals, there is obviously some secret they are trying to hide from the public. Whatdo you think, the kind of gas that was used, is this purely a technical matter, or may it have some political significance? Canwe assume that they may have used certain substances that are forbidden?

Grigory Yavlinsky: This certainly has a significance that goes beyond the technical. Today we simply cannot say whether this was a gas that is used in police work, or if it was this or that kind of gas, or if the question is related to the concentration of the gas. Wecannot make an assessment today about what went on, but your question is valid from that point of view that the assessment will depend largely on what actually happened.

Gisbert Mrozek: Was its use at least partially compatible, and was their any contact with security services in theWest?

Grigory Yavlinsky: If you have this information Ihave no such information, because, once again Iwill say that Iworked on the other option. Iwas not included in this option.

Andrei Shary: Grigory Alexeyevich, therewere.

Grigory Yavlinsky: If indeed there were such contacts, and, as you say, security services in the West were in the loop, then most likely this precludes it being any kind of gas that can be evaluated Ido not even want to come back to this, because this is already going way outside the framework. Ifthey were involved, then it is quite another story, so then it may be a question of how it was used, that is, in what dosage? Butin general Iam not an expert in thisfield.

Andrei Shary: Iam going to return to my colleagues’ question about the details of this option. Tellus what you suggested, if possible.

Grigory Yavlinsky: Itried to break the problem as put forward into its elements. ThenI tried to convince them that the common solution, about which they were speaking, consisted of these elements. ThenI tried to get them to agree to what would actually happen if we went according to these elements, and how they would respond, and then Itried to reconcile these elements with those who were responsible for making the decisions and implementing these elements sooner orlater.

Andrei Shary: What were the elements, for example?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Well, for example, the cleansings. There were, for example, questions about the use of heavy weapons. Notjust heavy weapons per se, but for example, weapons that are not in use there. There were conversations with the top leaders of our country here in Moscow, and over there, with people whom they recognize as leaders. Andthere were conversations about any action that could lead to a definite decision regarding the hostages. Thatis, it was a step-by-step option.

Andrei Shary: But were they able to perceive how you felt, did it seem like that to you, in what you were saying?

Grigory Yavlinsky: It was a very complicated matter. Itwas impossible to be sure. Whenyou work out such a plan, you have the feeling that you have developed it, put it forwards, everything has been done in parts, and it seems as if the other person has given their consent, but then the next minute you are no longer sure that you are meeting with someone from the other side who is supposed to do something, and you are no longer sure that you will not call them up five minutes later and he would tell you: “I don't know anything, I’m not interested in any of this, it all has to be all or nothing” and once again it is back to square one. There was no such confidence, so therefore there was so much difficulty. There was no one with whom you could talk seriously. There were these twenty-one year olds who could probably shoot, fight, and set off charges, they were desperate and ready to die, but these were not the people with whom you can hold any political or even quasi-political negotiations.

Gisbert Mrozek: So it was a completely different situation from Budennovsk, where there were talks between Viktor Chernomyrdin and Shamil Basayev?

Grigory Yavlinsky: In this situation, those with whom Ispoke

Andrei Shary: Basayev could not be located.

Grigory Yavlinsky: There was no one that Viktor Stepanovich (Chernomyrdin) could have talked with intelligently.

Andrei Shary: Grigory Alexeyevich, one more technical question. Howdid they organize these talks? Thatis, you got in touch with the Kremlin while you were in Tomsk and there was a certain decision made for you to go in there. Youaccepted it and the Kremlin agreed to this kind of step. Thenyou came here. Whoinformed them that you were coming, how did they present you to them, as it were, was there some other mediator or somethingelse?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Icalled the President and said that there was this idea that Ibelieved is was correct. Ifthey wanted it, Iwas ready to do it. Ithad to do with the lives of a very large number of people, and Iwas ready to do it. Hisanswer was positive. Iwas talking in particularly with Alexander Voloshin, and he said, “Call this number and get in touch with the chief of the headquarters and he will work out all the technical details.”

I flew to Moscow, it was about nine o’clock and Icalled up the headquarters. Iwas told: “We’ll give you the green light, and when you drive up, tell them your license plate number and who will be in your car and you will be passed directly to headquarters.” At the same time, once again Icontacted the Kremlin to discuss all details and we agreed that immediately after the meeting Iwas to go there and we would discuss what could come from all ofthis.

When Igot there, Imet with the headquarters chief, and in ten minutes he contacted one of the representatives of those who had seized the building. Hehanded me the phone. Theman on the other end said: “I recognize your voice.” He then said something strange, which was hard to believe: “We’ll see you. Cometo us. Comehere.” Iasked: “How do Iget there?” and he said: “Come here, go into the foyer, then turn left and go up to the second floor.”

Andrei Shary: Alone?

Grigory Yavlinsky: “The conditions,” he said. “Take no weapons with you, and you are alone. Ifyou agree, come, if you dare.” After that Iwent.

Andrei Shary: Where did youtalk?

Grigory Yavlinsky: On the second floor, in a storeroom, this has been shown a lot on TV. There is a storeroom for the snackbar.

Andrei Shary: Did you see any hostages?

Grigory Yavlinsky: No, Idid not see any. There Idiscussed those issues that Ihave already shared with you. Ialso discussed issues related to the release of the children and more of the hostages. Igot some sort of promise, though they said: “We won't release anyone in exchange for someone, we don’t bargain.” But Isaid: “This is how you want it.” So he says: “Well, in the morning we’ll release children under 13years of age.”

Valery Vyzhutovich: In light of these events, the television programs had an obvious propaganda slant. Youmay recall that suddenly there was information that the terrorists intended to release persons of the Muslim faith, and Georgians. Afterwards this information was not confirmed. Wereyou not bothered by the speed with which the television stations threw out this information for the public?

Grigory Yavlinsky: In general Iwas bothered by the work of the television stations the whole time, in the fullestsense.

Andrei Shary: All of the stations?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Yes, Ithink, all of them. Fromthe perspective of the issue that was being broadcast, Iwould say that it, in my opinion, was unprofessional work, simply unprofessional. Ido not advocate any specific restrictions or any instructions or any decisions on censorship. Butin this case professionalism was very important and the situation was really very difficult. Herewhat was needed was the usual professionalism, well, in truth it may not have been usual, it was very high level, allowing one to make correct assessments and send the right message.

Gisbert Mrozek: Still, Iwould like to talk about the overall assessment and do this to some depth, so to speak. Weare not talking about technical details. Tellme please, if you compare this with the seizure of hostages at Budennovsk, Kizlyar, and Pervomaisk, this was the third event of this magnitude, and the former ended in the complete defeat of the federal forces, so to speak. Buthow about now? Whatis the fundamental difference?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Right now it is impossible to make an assessment, because neither you nor Iknow how many were saved and how many died. Neither you nor Iknow how many of the hostage-takers were arrested and killed, and how many got away. Neither you nor Iknow a thing about this. Without knowing these details, how we can make an assessment?

Gisbert Mrozek: Not even in general?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Not even in general. Hereis the President yesterday, he also did not say a thing, he said: “They saved hundreds of people,” but he did not give a figure, he announced a day of mourning for Monday, from what Iknow. There was no fanfare from him about a successful situation. There used to be this old Soviet method: “Behold, Sidor Ivanovich, fat and happy, he was in charge of the operation, here, Sidor Ivanovich, tell us how it all went,” and Sidor Ivanovich begins to weave some tale. Butthat was not the case here, that is, everyone understands that a tragedy has taken place, a real tragedy.

All of this can be considered as a terrible tragedy, one with which it is still quite impossible to come to grips. People are still standing at the gates of hospitals. Theycannot find anything out. Wives are looking for their husbands, and husbands are looking for their wives. People are looking for their children. There is even this situation inside the hospital, Isaw this: there was a man lying there and he did not know what happened to his wife who was with him at this concert. Hecould find her. Herehe is lying there, and he does not know where she ended up. Thisis a human drama of colossal proportions.

And we still do not yet know if they prepared antidotes for this situation, and if they prepared the appropriate antidotes, what was done. Wedo not know, and all of this speaks volumes and the information that we will get give its own assessment, we only need to gather it all and then will become clear what actually happened.

Valery Vyzhutovich: Could you predict now how the authorities will behave after all that has happened? Whatwill we see next? Apatriotic euphoria and a desire to stamp it out, to finish the job down there and so on? Orwill there appear a sober understanding that we have to end thiswar?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Ido not know. Ihave no clarity. Thefact is, that whatever they state to be the political process rectifying or remedying the situation in Chechnya, there is, in my view, no such thing, and there is that absolutely firm position in this referendum, the Constitution, and the elections. Thatis a fact. Thisis also some theory about the development of events, or such a policy, right? Ihave too many questions, and too many doubts. Iswhat we are discussing here in fact what is being done? There is such a line of thinking.

Andrei Shary: Grigory Alexeyevich, here just now Ithought that inside me Ihave two feelings that are in conflict with one another, and Icannot connect them. Onthe one hand, when you talk about the tragedy and you talk about the President’s speech, Iget the impression that Putin made an adequate assessment of the situation on the other hand, and is evaluating it. Because, in my opinion, his speech yesterday was one of the best, if not the best, of his entire political career.

On the other hand, Iwill continue with what Valery started to talk about, it is this idea about the state-owned TV stations. Iam not including NTV and TVS. WhatI am talking about are the state stations. These are television stations that the state has control over, and that means that the government can broadcast its ideas or ideological concepts directly. Iam not saying this is good or bad, but the government has this right, and has paid money forit.

What Valery said was the idea that they would be releasing the Muslims and the Georgians, the idea that this was all linked to international terrorism and this was, in my opinion, late Friday night just before the assault. Isaw a report on RTR that it was all connected and all of it, of course, fell apart. Itfell apart because there were these supposed recordings in Arabic. Idid not understand them, but they allegedly translated someone in there talking with someone about getting some weapons. Perhaps it was true. Icould not understand as a viewer how it was all connected the current situation.

I am leaning towards the fact that this was an attempt to portray it all as a continuation of Indonesia and the Philippines, of September 11th, a direct continuation. Iaccept this position in general, but Iam not sure about it with regards to this act. Personally Ido not think that its roots are in it. Itis because there is this war in Chechnya, which is like a cancer, and it has metastasized. Maybe you can help me solve this, my dilemma between an adequate understanding of the situation by the President, and what Ijust saidhere?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Icannot answer in every detail, but Ican convey my assumptions and what Iknow. Well, first of all, Iwould say that the roots of the situation that occurred in Moscow is our war in Chechnya, how it proceeds, and in its forms and methods. Myposition on this issue remains unchanged. Thisis more than a tragedy for Russia; it is a path to nowhere. AndI want to reiterate that sooner or later it will end with a peace conference in Moscow, similar to the peace conference in Tajikistan, which will be attended by the President of Russia and all the people who can be brought to this conference from Chechnya, other than war criminals, and it will take place on the basis of the Russian Constitution and Russian Law, because at this date, doing anything else other than in the framework of such a conference is impossible.

I only used Tajikistan as a successful example, though true, it is another nation, in contrast to Chechnya, but we have such an example of success. Sooner or later it will happen. Andin general this is a guide of what must be done in Chechnya, and to this we should aspire. Itis difficult right now to talk about every stage and every detail, because of what just happened in Moscow, this has changed the entire political reality, including in Chechnya. Sonow we need to develop new elements to move toward this goal. Butthis is, first of all, this goal setting, that is, the goal toward which we should head, of course, once again, what happened to us here in Moscow is directly related to thiswar.

This here question Ican explain to you at a technical level, and, probably, it will be the best explanation. ThePresident personally addressed the issue of this and this situation around us. Theyhave formulated this policy, and it is completely different from they are saying on television. Whathas hit them on the head is what they were talking about. There was not enough professionalism on the part of the journalists so as not to shame themselves. Itwas either that, or they were just too lazy to analyze it and the situation developed with such frightening speed and they were not ready in advance. Therefore there was this chaos and a complete mess, and everything possible went out on theair.

Remember the morning broadcasts? Thedeputy interior minister came out and said: “We have a number of militants who have fled, contact us and we will save your lives.” And this was on a state-owned station. Thenthe following story on the state-owned channel Patrushev and Gryzlov go to the president and say: “We got them all.” And the next story, because they repeat over and over again, the same thing Ireally thought that they would not show it a second time, but nothing of the sort. Sothere they were, one after the other, the one saying: “Give yourselves up.” And the others are saying: “It’s over, there’s no one left to give up.” And that was the story for the day. There is no need to be someone important, just take look at that and you can make the appropriate assessment. Thatis what Ithink was really goingon.

Andrei Shary: Thank you. Ourprogram is coming to an end, and so Itraditionally ask our colleagues on the program to draw up a short summary of the conversation, as difficult as that is going to be today. Valery, let us start withyou.

Valery Vyzhutovich: Ithink the most important issue touched upon in our conversation was the topic that relates to what gas was used and what aftereffects it might have. Dueto the fact that right now no one, including our interlocutor, has enough information about it, it seems to me that this topic might be very important in the coming week and perhaps we will be able to return once again to thistheme.

Gisbert Mrozek: Of course, it is not only what gas they used, but how and in what situation is it used, and if it was adequate or if was it necessary to save the lives of the hostages. Wecan assume that perhaps it was. Andone more thing that Ithink is important: to understand if there may have been an international makeup to what goes on in these, in Russian internal conflicts. Butat the root is Chechnya, and we need to solve Chechnya so that this is not to be repeated endlessly.

Andrei Shary: Iwill allow myself in this case to disagree with my colleagues. Ithink that what we touched on today was another fundamental question, and the most important question. Itis the question of the government’s responsibility for the security of its citizens. Thegas was a technique, and this what happened in Moscow was a terrible tragedy, but now we must think about how to make this tragedy the last. Iam grateful to Grigory Yavlinsky, because he consented to continue this conversation in a week. Iam certain that this conversation needs to be continued, and not only on the air here on ‘Radio Liberty’. Butwe for our part will do everything to ensure that the government does not forget that it is responsible for the safety and lives of its citizens, and that in order to solve this problem it should make any concessions, no matter how these concessions may stain their uniforms.


On ‘Radio Liberty’
October 28th, 2002.
http://www.svoboda.org/programs/ftf/2002/ftf.102802.asp



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