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'Nord-Ost' 5yearslater
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, 26 2007
From radio station 'Echo of Moscow'
A.NORKIN: Sergei Goncharov, hello. Thank you for responding to our request. Canyou hear me?

S.GONCHAREOV: Yes, fine.

A.NORKIN: With us on the phone is Sergei Goncharov, a member of the federal parliament and the chairman of the association of veterans of the 'Alfa' anti-terror unit. Myfirst question is this: please tell me, is it true that your colleagues, security officials, say that the assault operation, which was conducted inside the building of the musical 'Nord-Ost', was one of the most successful ever?

S.GONCHAROV: Ido not know who gave you information about it being the most successful operation.

A.NORKIN: No, Isaid one of the most successful, in comparison with others that took place in our country.
S.GONCHAROV: Irepeat, Ido not know who gave you this information. Thatit was successful, that it was glowing, considering the state of and the number of commandos and what they did inside 'Nord-Ost' and how many hostages there were, purely technically speaking it was, of course, done exactly right. Butas far as the question that they could not save (some) hostages, well that is a different question, but Ithink that in this case there is nothing against the officers of 'Alfa' and 'Vympel'.

A.NORKIN: Iunderstand, but today, just this morning, the same question was raised. There is no service or agency or structure that in such situations the leaders could put together, because now people came today to the theatrical center on Dubrovka and they are saying thank you to 'Alfa', which stormed the building, but they cannot say thanks to those who later over saving the lives of the hostages.

S.GONCHAROV: Iam pretty sure that after the tragedies they introduced, not just after Beslan, as you know there has already been created a committee, headed by FSB Director Patrushev. Ican assure you that all the services

A.NORKIN: Sergey, Iapologize. Let's try to call you back.

Y.NORKINA: Very bad connection.

A.NORKIN: Now we will try to call Sergey Goncharov back, because Iwant to hear what he says and there is some static. Hello Sergey. Let's try it again. Youstarted to say that some adjustments were made, that they drew some conclusions and that a national anti-terrorism committee was formed. What, what exactly is it? Hello. No, it's impossible. Thestatic is terrible.

Y.NORKINA: Very bad connection.

A.NORKIN: Can you call us back?

S.GONCHAROV: I'd be happy to

A.NORKIN: Unfortunately, it's impossible. Inany case, we'll try. Hello, Sergey.

S.GONCHAROV: Ican hear you fine. Canyou hear me now?

A.NORKIN: When we say hello, we can hear you, but just as soon as you start to say something specific, the static begins.

S.GONCHAROV: Iactually went to the top of the spire, so Ido not know how it could get any better. Iam on Poklonnaya Hill.

A.NORKIN: Fine. It's fine now. Goback to the Anti-Terrorist Committee that drew its conclusions from the 'Nord-Ost' history.

S.GONCHAROV: Right now, Irepeat, a national anti-terrorism committee was created, headed by Mr. Patrushev, the FSB director, and at this moment all the agencies are delineated if there is, God forbid, some kind of emergency situation that happens throughout all of Russia, because the same anti-terrorism commission was created in each region. InMoscow Yuri Luzhkov personally heads it. Other people (in other regions) are responsible for everything and how to act, God forbid, in an emergency. Therefore, shall we say, this question has been decided. Thatis, all orders and documents have been approved.

A.NORKIN: Most important result to me would be that there is no more organizational confusion in priority.

S.GONCHAROV: You know, Iprobably would not take it upon myself to declare that now there will be no more overlap. Iwill say it again, since like you Iam trying to be realistic. Ithink that since these conclusions were made, Ihope that there will be no more overlapping of authority like there was previously.

A.NORKIN: Understood. Sergey, while we were trying to contact you we got a few text messages from a man, his name is Alexander, he is a doctor and back then he was on duty at the Botkin hospital, so he says, he draws attention to the fact that the commandos who took part in the assault were not affected by the gas as much as the hostages. Fromthis he concludes that they had previously been injected with the real antidote, while the hostages were somehow deprived of this right.

S.GONCHAROV: Ican immediately tell this doctor that he is full of it, and Iwill explain why. Ifwe speak in technical terms, the commandos entered the auditorium back then, as Iunderstand it, because the audience in the hall had already noticed the gas. Therefore, to say that some idiot to saved 'Alfa' and 'Vympel' commandos, but did not do the same for the rest, such a statement is probably not far from crazy. Alot of our people suffered. Ican cite official examples of our people who were in hospital for 2or 3weeks because of the gas. Therefore, it is an absolutely improper statement, or, if you would prefer, a misunderstanding.

A.NORKIN: Iwould like to leave it at a misunderstanding. Thatwas the point of view of one specialist who leveled it your point of view, as another specialist.

Y.NORKINA: But there is still confusion because of a lot of questions, to which, unfortunately, no one gives a normal, clear answer. Whywas there no antidote? Whatwas the gas? Itis still unclear, unknown.

A.NORKIN: The main question is why were doctors in the hospitals not brought up to speed? Theydid not know what they were supposed to do.

Y.NORKINA: You are a representative of one of the most organized teams. 'Alfa' has always been the Alpha. Ithas always had people who are well trained, professionals. Youcould not but know all these nuances.

S.GONCHAROV: Let's speak frankly. Apparently you think that every officer is notified of the whole strategy and all the tactics. Well, it's not so. There is the leadership, and then there are the combat officers who perform their combat assignment. Wecarry out the order that we are given. Therefore, for an officer from a unit such as 'Alfa' executing the order comes before anything else. Butto talk about what they thought or did not think, about whether they acted properly, or who ordered it or did not, this is probably secondary, after carrying out the order to destroy the terrorists. Ithink this question is quite unjustified.

Y.NORKINA: Iunderstand. Sothis means that the order was only about neutralizing, destroying the terrorists.

S.GONCHAROV: There was only one order to make sure they did not blow up an auditorium in which there were almost 2,000 spectators. Andsecondly, let's talk frankly, to make sure there was no orgy of destruction after the hall was blown up, to prevent neighboring buildings from getting hit. Andmost importantly, of course, the number one objective was to rescue the hostages. Unfortunately, we did not manage to do this completely, as you know, because after the special operation here were these overlaps of authority that, shall we say, mildly speaking, led to the tragedy that we now have.

A.NORKIN: Understood. Ihave another question similar to this. Whywere the unconscious terrorists killed? Whywere none of them taken alive?

S.GONCHAROV: Iexplained this, and Iwill explain it again. There was an electrical circuit that depended on the slightest contact. Anycompression or incorrect movement by a commando from 'Alfa' or 'Vympel', or by someone sitting in the auditorium, this could have closed the circuit and the hall would have been blown up along with 'Vympel' and 'Alfa' and all the people there. Therefore, to say that 'Alfa' shot them just for the heck of it, this is absolutely inappropriate, because they destroyed them so there would not be an explosion. Everything else, Irepeat, was secondary.

Y.NORKINA: But pictures show that when 'Alfa' rushed into the room, everyone was already in a state of unconsciousness.

S.GONCHAROV: Once again Iwill repeat it, if you did not understand me. Astate of unconsciousness is when a person is dead, but when a person in a state of unconsciousness can still push a button that can lead to an explosion, Icannot define that state, sorry, I'm not a doctor.

Y.NORKINA: So there were no bomb disposal experts?

S.GONCHAROV: They came later. After the conclusion of the special operation and all (terrorists) were destroyed. Thenthe specialists could start to work and neutralize the bombs.

A.NORKIN: It is clear that it was like the rule in medicine: do no harm.

S.GONCHAROV: Absolutely. Ilike your expression here.

A.NORKIN: Sergey, one last question. Tellme please, why did the nation's leaders relate so strangely to participants in the operation? Asfar as Iknow, only one commando from 'Alfa' received an award, while many of the leaders of the security services received in secret the Hero of Russia medal after 'Nord-Ost'.

S.GONCHAROV: Ido not wish to be held responsible for secret orders, since Iwas not involved in any of the paperwork, but you are absolutely wrong. Alarge number of our officers received fairly high-level government awards for 'Nord-Ost'.

A.NORKIN: Good. Thank you very much.

S.GONCHAROV: You are welcome. Goodbye.

A.NORKIN: We are sorry for tormenting you for so long.

S.GONCHAROV: It was nothing.

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