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‘Nord-Ost’: unpublished details about the terror act
Written by Вячеслав Измайлов   
Четверг, 07 Июнь 2007

Nord-Ost «Novaya gazeta»

By Vyacheslav Izmailov

The FSB knew about a possible hostage seizure from at least two sources: a continuation of Anna Politkovskaya’s investigation.

Four years and seven months after the tragedy at the theater on Dubrovka, the Moscow city prosecutor has stopped the investigation into the hostage seizure case “due to the inability of determining the location of the accused”. Supposedly a certain Derikhan Bakhayev and Hassan Zakayev are on the “wanted” list. Practice shows that this means only one thing – forget about it, no one is going to bother with this case anymore.

The main suspects were destroyed. The chief of the accused, according to the prosecutor, was Shamil Basayev, who also for technical reasons cannot tell anyone anything, and the lion’s share of guilt was assigned to him in a fiction concocted by the investigation.

The last is an excursion through the history of the Chechen conflict. For eternally arguable reasons, only one person was ever convicted – Zaurbek Talkhigov. He was present in conversations with the terrorists at the request of the secret services, and sent to prison for this.

An imitation of an investigation went on for just under five years. The prosecutor not only did not answer a single question about the case, but he prevented anyone else: the relatives of the hostages, the victims, and the journalists — including our Anna Politkovskaya. It was Anna whom the gunmen demanded at the negotiations, and she entered the captured theater several times. Later she occupied herself with a journalistic investigation.

Who was Khanpash Terkibayev?

On October 26th, 2002, officials at the hostage rescue headquarters gave updated figures on the dead hostages every hour, but they determined the terrorist dead right away: “All the terrorists were destroyed”. (Why, is another question and we will return to it later.) The number of dead gunmen was stated to be 40. Later there was information that one of the terrorists who had seized the theater on Dubrovka was still alive, and Anna Politkovskaya found this man. It was not somewhere in the mountains of Chechnya, but right here in the center of Moscow, on Lenin Prospect, in the Hotel Sputnik (pay attention to the name of this hotel).

In April of 2003, a half-year after the tragedy on Dubrovka, Khanpash Terkibayev, a young man of about 30, confessed to Anna that he was a member of the terrorist group at ‘Nord-Ost’. Moreover, in the interview between Anna and Terkibayev, published in ‘Novaya Gazeta’, it was stated that he played an important role in the terrorist group, as Anna put it: “a go between”, “a provocateur”. Yet who was Terkibayev working for, since he was photographed with high-ranking officials and held numerous, protective identification documents that were simply impossible to get a hold of without help from the secret services? How was he able to leave the theater, and who got him into the terrorist group?

After the publication of this interview, Anna Politkovskaya convinced investigators to question Terkibayev. They never did. They said that they went looking for him at the Hotel Cosmos (?!) but could not locate him. He never hid, however: he was in contact with high officials from the president’s administration and traveled as the head of the Chechen parliamentary delegation to Strasbourg together with Rogozin, who at the time was the chairman of the Russian parliament’s international relations committee. A participant in the terror act on Dubrovka, Terkibayev traveled half the world using his own name on legal documents: to Dubai, Turkey, Jordan, and Strasbourg…

And yet this important witness and participant in the seizure of hostages at Dubrovka was inaccessible only to the official investigation. More likely it was that he was unneeded, as other witnesses were unneeded. For example, journalists from ‘Novaya Gazeta’ who more than once entered the captured theater and spoke with the terrorists on the telephone, and officers of the secret services who carried out a “clean up” of the auditorium after ‘Alpha’ finished its work, they were also never questioned. Judging from everything, in general, extra witnesses were unneeded.

For half a year after Anna’s interview Terkibayev flew around the world, throughout Russia and Chechnya, but in October of 2003 he perished in a strange automobile accident. Why was it ‘strange’? What happened to him was what should have happened to any secret agent who knew too much and broke the code of silence. He was used like a single-use syringe. “An agent shouldn’t blab, and he didn’t blab,” Anna wrote in this regard in her publication, titled: “A protection from witnesses program” (in ‘Novaya Gazeta’ #96, December 12th, 2003). In this article she also noted: “The time of the car crash was also remarkable – exactly a day before Terkibayev was to speak with the CIA”. (Citizens of the USA were among the hostages who died at the theater, and the secret service of this country was conducting its own investigation into the death of US citizens.)

The testimony of Achyad Baisarov

I met Achyad Baisarov in April of 1998. He was an accomplice in the sale of an extremely ill, 13-year-old boy named Andrusha Latypov, who was a hostage in Chechnya. Achyad Baisarov (not to be confused with Movladi Baisarov, an FSB agent who was killed by Kadyrov’s men in the middle of Moscow on November 4th of last year) demanded 500 thousand US dollars for the child. We were able to get Andrusha out of the bandits’ clutches without spending any money, while Achyad Baisarov ended up in jail for running a kidnapping ring in Armenia. It turned out that his prison term was a short one, and on the day before ‘Nord-Ost’ Baisarov was living free in Moscow.

So why do we care about this person? Because there are witnesses: on the day before the seizure of hostages at Dubrovka, Achyad Baisarov warned the leadership of the Russian FSB about a terror act being prepared. There was no reaction, and perhaps because there was already an FSB man among the terrorists – Terkibayev – and someone fixed the leaks with medals, hoping that all was under control. In short, medals and Hero Star were handed out either way.

And what about Achyad Baisarov, the bandit who received a minimal sentence for one of the worst of crimes, and not for the sale of a child hostage? He also disappeared, just like Terkibayev. No one knows anything about his fate, not even his former masters, former high-ranking Chechen ‘siloviki’ (members of the police, armed forces, or secret services), who still have close contacts in the Russian secret services.

Apti Batalov — a phone call from London

Saturday evening of October 7th, 2006, was one of the worst days for us at ‘Novaya Gazeta’: Anna Politkovskaya was murdered. Working at the editorial offices were members of the prosecutor’s office and special operations officers, when the telephone rang. It was a late night call from London, from Apti Batalov, formerly a Chechen field commander from 1994–1996, later the head of the Ichkerian security service for several months in 1997. From 1997 to 1999 he was he head of President Aslan Maskhadov’s security apparatus.

“I would like to make the following declaration,” Apti said. “Several years ago I met with Anna in London and gave her documents about how the terror act in Moscow in October of 2002 was prepared. About a month ago she was supposed to receive a cassette with video materials on how the seizure of hostages at the theater was made ready. Investigate the Politkovskaya case and pay attention to this.”

A little while after this call, Batalov sent us the text of those materials that he had mentioned were given in the summer of 2003 to Politkovskaya.

Batalov testifies that his friend and comrade in arms from the first Chechen campaign, Lema Dagalayev, was recruited with the assistance of Khanpash Terkibayev by an FSB colonel named Arkady (or Igor) Dranets*. Dagalayev certified his testimony in March of 2002 on a videocassette (in the presence of Batalov), where he discussed a campaign in Moscow, planned with the active participation of Terkibayev and himself. The campaign’s goal was the seizure of one of the government departments. Dagalayev also showed his FSB special pass. A few days after this video recording, Dagalayev died in an automobile crash.

Batalov was questioned about his contacts with Dagalayev at the Naursky regional FSB headquarters in Chechnya. On March 23rd Apti Batalov sought refuge in England, and as a precaution he hid the videocassette with Dagalayev’s testimony and brought it with. It was this cassette, according to Batalov, that he wished to send to Politkovskaya. As far as we know, Anna never received it.


* Colonel Dranets is not a fictional character, but a real person. He is an officer who has worked in Chechnya for a long time. It was he who was mentioned in the open letter written supposedly to former members of the gang of FSB agent Movladi Baisarov, who in turn was killed in the autumn of last year in Moscow. He was a person who kept in contact with them in Moscow.

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