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Misfortune didn't make us closer
Written by . , . , ., .   
, 21 2009
1Tomorrow 'Nord-Ost' will be five. OnOctober 23rd, 2002, in a theater on Dubrovka, a musical about love, loyalty and heroism unexpectedly turned into a bloody nightmare, one that caused the nation and the world to shudder. Terrorists led by Movsar Barayev took hostage more than a thousand spectators. Atdawn on the fourth day began an assault, during which, according to official figures, 40terrorist suicide bombers were destroyed. Alongside them, however, 129innocent people were also killed.
Five years have passed, and the pain has dulled, but many issues related to the tragedy still remain unresolved. Whose fault was it that health care for the hostages who were poisoned by gas during the assault was organized so inefficiently, and that many died? Whyare there falsifications and lies in the official records of the anti-terrorist hostage rescue operation? Whydid the victims have to turn to the European Court of Human Rights? Today, the lawyer for the 'Nord-Ost' victims, Igor Trunov, announced at a press conference that he is submitting to the Office of the Prosecutor General a request for a criminal investigation into fraud.
Igor Trunov's statement to the investigative committee on behalf of victims is based on data supplied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by Russia. Thedate of the trial at the ECHR is as yet unknown, but the basic court procedures there are already complete: 58complaints by victims of 'Nord-Ost' were accepted for examination, the Court questioned Russia on substantive issues, and Russia sent back a detailed response in the form of a 1,500-page memorandum. Theplaintiffs have until November 15th to comment on that memorandum.
Looking for answers
Igor Trunov guesses that the ECHR verdict may be made by the end of November. In our opinion, the memorandum includes the crimes of abuse of office and falsification, said Trunov in an interview with 'Gazeta'. In the case materials there are many contradictions, as well as in information about the operation and the conduct of the rescue. There are also contradictions in the number of deaths, and the proportion admitted to hospital and provided care.
Moral damages were not paid
Compensation began immediately after the attack. Families of the victims received 100thousand rubles from the Moscow city government, while the victims themselves received 50,000 rubles, and 10,000 for loss of property. TheMoscow authorities also paid for the victims' funerals. Those Muscovites who were former hostages in need of housing got apartments, and young men of military age were exempted from military service. Somehostages received trips to sanatoria. Inaddition, victims' families were paid 2550thousand rubles from a fund created by a private business for the hostages and victims of the Moscow terrorist attack.
Some of the hostages, mostly members of the 'Nord-Ost' organization, went to court to demand additional compensation from the Moscow city government, including moral damages. Thefirst three cases arrived in court a month after the attack, on November 25th, 2002. Theinitiative challenging the authorities' actions in court initially did not come from the victims, but from human rights advocates in particular, former commissioner for human rights Sergei Kovalev, who, on the day after their liberation, called on the hostages to go to court. AsIgor Trunov told 'Gazeta', at this time there are 62lawsuits from victims of the terrorist attack on Dubrovka. Demands for non-pecuniary damages were rejected in every case. Thecourts relied on Article 18of the law on combating terrorism, noting that compensation for moral damages may only be demanded from the perpetrators, that is, the slain terrorists.
As an example, Trunov provided figures from the memorandum, which characterized therapeutic measures during the operation as highly effective. According to the data, 677people were hospitalized, 21of them already in a state of terminal agony, which is close to clinical death. So, if one excludes the moribund, 656remain, including 18children. Theofficial version states that of these 656, only 6died, making the mortality rate 0.9%, testifying to the high level of effectiveness for the medical care and treatment.
Victims of 'Nord-Ost' cite data from the four Moscow hospitals that received victims. According to these records, 71of the hospitalized hostages died, including 4children, a mortality rate of 10.8%. Thechild mortality rate was 25%. Inaddition, Trunov referenced autopsies that showed medical care not being provided to 58.4% of the victims.
The plaintiffs argue in Strasbourg about the failure of the Russian courts to require the government to pay compensation for moral damages. According to the rules of anti-terrorism legislation, the terrorists themselves must pay damages. Butat Dubrovka, as we know, all 40of Barayev’s militants were killed. Thevictims of the terrorist attack believe that this is a violation of Article 6of the European Convention on Human Rights the right to a fair trial.
We believe that those who worked on drafting this memorandum should be called in to verify the facts, the lawyer says. Most likely, it was not one person, though there is only a single signature, Veronika Milinchuk's. It's possible that this is simple negligence.
Igor Trunov also complains that the plaintiffs do not know how many witnesses were interviewed, and what investigative steps were taken. OnMay 19th, 2007, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office suspended the preliminary criminal investigation into 'Nord-Ost', due to the fact that the two accused could not be located. Lately materials in the case have not been turned over to the lawyers.
But equally important is something else: now, in Russia, even the victims rarely remember the terrible terrorist attack and the deaths of 129innocent people. There are many reasons for this, but 'Gazeta' will consider two.
Youth
In 2002, Maksim Maksimov was 20years old. Hewas attending the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, and moonlighting at Dubrovka as a cloakroom attendant. Whenintermission ended, Maksim was one of the first to see the terrorists run into the theater lobby. Theaudience, among whom the vast majority were young people, thought that it was part of a musical: the terrorists looked much like Hollywood, while Maksim thought it might be an anti-terrorism exercise. Theattendant realized that it was neither part of the show, nor an exercise, when two female suicide bombers wearing headscarves screamed in accented Russian: Everyone hit the floor! They were all brought into a room, and Max found himself next to a female terrorist in a martyr belt. With me was my younger brother, whom I, unfortunately, brought along to do odd jobs. Between us sat a girl. Wesurvived, but she died, says Maksimov. I was 100% sure that there'd be an assault. Somelimit was reached where everyone was sick and tired of it all. Theterrorists, Ithink, had similar feelings. Theybehaved variously. Forexample, the female suicide bombers treated the men normally, but hissed at the women all the time. Among the men was one blond-haired fellow who spoke Russian well. Hewould read something like lectures about the independence of Chechnya, and jihad.
Maksim blames the terrorists for the deaths of the hostages. Inthe auditorium he managed to speak to Barayev. I asked him: why the fig did you do this? Whycan't you live in peace? Hesaid: Idon't know how to do anything else, Ican't even write properly, and my father's dead. Maksim has no claims against anyone. I was in intensive care with a girl, and a guy who was leaving. There was a nurse with him, slapping his face so that he wouldn't fall asleep and die. Theyinjected him with something and he immediately came to life and began to joke and sing. Thenhe asked for herrings with potatoes. Adoctor drove to the store and went and got him herrings and potatoes, out of his own pocket. Maksim did not sign the complaint to Strasbourg. Perhaps it was because a young man should not live the past, no matter how awful it was, but in the present and the future.
Modesty
Lyudmila Yevdokimova from Orekhovo-Zuevo, a 54year-old cook at the Hotel Central, would have signed the statement to the ECHR, perhaps, but she found it awkward. Eventhough she still has not recovered from the shock, and is being treated for sores that have cropped up. Ameeting with a correspondent from 'Gazeta' was for this shy woman one of the rare occasions when she spoke out.
All these five years, while Iwas getting treated, the authorities in Orekhovo-Zuevo never helped at bit. Idon't even know where I'm supposed to turn. OnceI asked at the welfare office about a trip a sanatorium, but they said it's not covered. Onetime, right after Igot out of hospital, they gave me a trip to a sanatorium, and that's it, the whole rehabilitation. Allthe time, though, Ithink that Iwas very lucky. Iremember my colleague Tanechka Telenkova. Wesat together in the theater. After the assault, at the hospital, Ilearned that she’d been killed. Andthat out of our group, which went to see the play on a ticket from our trade union, four died. I'm lucky. Whenthe gas knocked us out, we were loaded into buses and stacked up. Iwas on top of a pile of bodies. IfI'd been down lower, I'd already be five years in the grave. Maybe Tanya was on the bottom. Idon't know how justified was the use of the gas. Ofcourse, we would be killed in any case. Theterrorists came to die and talked about it straight out. Butnow Idon't believe in the state's ability to protect its citizens. Theyfailed in the capital, to say nothing of the outlying regions. Ican't work. Iwas prematurely pensioned off. Howcan you work after gas poisoning? Hypertension, acute diabetes, and Ican't even fall sleep without drugs. Ihave a pension of 2,400 rubles a month. Iremember that in intensive care with me there was an American woman of Russian descent. Every day from the embassy there came an interpreter and an embassy representative, and they helped her in every way. Thank God that Ihave my son, and my mother is old, otherwise Iwould've lay there all by myself. Butif only one of the officials could've come by and asked. Iunderstand there were a lot of us, you can't get to everyone, but still, while looking at this American woman, Iwas upset. Theygave me 50thousand, and with this the state was done with me. Investigators never came to find out what happened, either, even though on TV they said that almost all the hostages had been interviewed.
And do you know what else? Idon't maintain any relationship with any of my comrades from 'Nord-Ost'. Forsome reason, misfortune didn't make us closer. Itwas in Beslan that they all united together to fight for the truth, but we have silence."
QUESTION: DO WE HAVE THE MISFORTUNE TO HAVE A SHORT MEMORY?
ALEXANDER TSEKALO, deputy director of 'First Channel'
Well, no. TheSlavic people in general have had a bloody history. There have been a lot of wars, and so the public stores these tragedies somewhere in the files of the brain. Theydo not remember the good as long as they remember the bad, but ordinary people remember this with their heart, and it is very difficult to remove it from there.
But the state and the authorities are required to remember with their head: to care for, compensate, promote, investigate, search, find, and punish. Inaddition, invested in the memory of the state is the taxpayers' money, and if they themselves have a short memory, the state simply has no right to do so. Ido not know, if Iam like the people or the government, but Ido not think that Iwill soon be able to forget 'Nord-Ost'.
IGOR TRUNOV, attorney
No conclusions were reached. Measures that should have prevented these and other misfortunes, as a rule, were not property carried out. There was not a proper investigation of 'Nord-Ost', there were no conclusions, and this reminds me of the situation with the Karmadon gorge. Everyone knows that there is this active glacier there, and there have been avalanches in the very same place four times in a row, killing many people, including the film crew of Sergei Bodrov, Jr. Yetonce again they are building a road, and housing construction has started. Theonly happiness is that there is an avalanche only every 7080years, but this time it crashed down earlier and now, due to a global warming, this may occur even more frequently. People may suffer again, and it is the breeding ground for a repeat of this tragedy.
DANIEL GRANIN, writer
It is absolutely short. Asquickly as possible we try to forget all the trouble and think this helps, but this is purely the Soviet legacy. TheSoviet government was very fond of hiding us from all sorts of trouble, and protecting our happy mood. Theywould say that all was well and that everything was getting better.
And now we really do not know what the authorities are up to. Whether it was the work of the Anti-Terrorism Committee, or just the natural cycle of life.
VLADIMIR VASILYEV, chairman of the Duma Security Committee (United Russia Party)
Everyone is different, but for those who were affected, one simply just does not forget such a thing and leave unaffected. Buta lot has been done: a law has been adopted, and a presidential decree has been issued.
This year there is more than 60% less terrorist activity, compared with last year. However, if as a reference point we recall the year when there was the tragedy in Beslan, this reduction is several times greater. Against the background of terror in the world today, Russia has learned to effectively counter the threat, and, in fact, we now have only a few cases.
When a terrorist attack occurs, everyone is appalled, and this is a feature not only of the Russian soul, but also throughout the whole world. Afeature of such a crime is that it is meant to frighten the public. There are a lot of victims, and children the most sacred thing we have are killed. There is enormous stress, and all of society is shaken. Butman survives and gradually all this moves into the background.
When it happens again, however, people react impulsively and no one considers it systemically. Infact, the reaction is on an emotional level, and this is precisely what the terrorists count on.
Here we have been told that this year the situation in Ingushetia is extremely difficult. Itook a look, and statistically today the situation is better than it was in years past. Ofcourse, this should come as no comfort to anyone, since terrorist attacks are still occurring there. Butthe terrorists have forced on us the perception that the situation in Ingushetia is absolutely hopeless. Their goal is to sow doubt in the public's mind, and bring it to a state of fear and distrust of the authorities.
But the government remembers, and will never forget. ThePresident received Russia when it was shaken by terror attacks, when the terrorists even tried to grab him by the throat and dictate terms. Butnow this is already in the past, one to which Ihope we will never return. Butit depends on all of us.
In 'GZT.ru'

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