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One terrorist managed to set off a grenade
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, 12 2002

During storming of ‘Nord-Ost’ one terrorist managed to set off a grenade

In response to reader’s calls, ‘Izvestiya’ is publishing answers from the former commander of the ‘Alfa’ anti-terrorism unit, Viktor Fyodorovich Karpukhin, Hero of the Soviet Union and major general, reserves. Hereare some of them:

Q: There are persistent rumors going around the capital that the operational headquarters ‘overdosed’, releasing 5times more gas into the theatrical center than recommended by chemists. Isthis true?

A: There never could have been any clear and specific recommendations. There are so many areas in the theatrical center that the volume of gas is almost impossible to calculate.

Q: So, was the gas just ‘guesstimated’ and we ended up with a bunch of corpses?

A: Ido not think any of the hostages died from the effects of the sleeping gas. Itis, in and of itself, harmless. There have been these types of non-lethal weapons in service with our security agencies since the Soviet days, and they have been tested repeatedly. Mostlikely we are dealing here with a number of causes: extreme stress, hunger, and the aggravation of chronic diseases. Foralmost three days, people were in an extreme situation. Herethere were certainly a whole host of causes that led to tragedy.

Q: How would you assess the actions of your former subordinates during the assault?

A: Absolutely perfect. ‘Alfa’ and ‘Vympel’ and the supporting units all did ‘A plus’ work. Thetheatrical center building was seriously booby-trapped. FSBexplosives experts later calculated that if any one of the terrorists had set off even one of their charges, the theater would have come down like a house of cards. Everyone would have been killed: the hostages, the terrorists, and the security forces storming the building. Theyield of the explosives would have be enough and to cause damage to neighboring buildings. Theboys worked out every option in advance, so they had to guarantee that every terrorist would be killed, and victory was on our side.

Q: Were there any casualties among the security forces?

A: There have been crazy rumors going around about ‘Alfa’ losses, and that supposedly some were killed and gassed. Iwill quite responsibly declare that only one was injured during the assault. Abandit was able to toss a hand grenade before his death. Thedetachment chief, a colonel, received multiple shrapnel wounds to the hands and feet, around 18or 20fragments. Theinjuries were not life threatening. Nowthis officer, with whom Iwent on two operations, he is doing okay.

Q: How much do ‘Alfa’ commandos make?

A: It will not seem like a lot to you, my dear Nina Borisovna, but our counter terrorism officers, alas, do not get a lot of monetary satisfaction. Their pay does not exceed 68thousand rubles (a month). Maybe now something will change. Themen pass a rigorous selection process, master their weapons, and spend 150200days a year in hot spots, in Chechnya. Theyshould receive more for their dangerous work.

Q: Tell me, was it necessarily to kill all the terrorists? Eventhose asleep? Eventhe women?

A: The security forces had no choice. Theyhad to kill all of the terrorists. Putting the detonator of an explosive device into firing position only takes a few seconds. Thegas acts on every person very individually. Ifone of the terrorist women had come to for just for a moment, the results could have been catastrophic. Theyhad to shoot to kill. Donot pity the terrorists; they have no pity for us.

Q: Were there only Chechens involved in the seizure of hostages?

A: In the capture of the theatrical center they noted not only ethnic Chechens: there were representatives of other nationalities in there committing atrocities. There are no ‘bandit’ nations. Global terrorism has a base with different population layers and ethnic groups, but certain countries today, how can Iput this, are major suppliers of those who carry out terrorist attacks, as recently happened in Moscow. ManyChechens are angry about the stupidity and savagery that took place on their soil during the first Chechen war. Thebombing and loss of loved ones embittered many people. Donot forget that a whole generation of Chechen men has grown up during war.

Q: Are we guaranteed that there will not be a repeat of such terrible acts of terrorism in the future? Whatshould we do to prevent terrorist attacks?

A: There are no guarantees, alas, none. Terrorists have headquarters and money. Preparing the terrorist attack on Dubrovka cost not less than two million dollars. There are these mindless people who carry out terrorist attacks, brainwashed by religious propaganda. Thesecurity services are at work, and the police, albeit the police not in full measure. Anabsolute guarantee that tomorrow another tragedy will not occur, no one can give you this. Beon the lookout! Youcannot put a commando on top of every terrorist.

Q: Tell me, why have they still not unscrewed the heads of Maskhadov and Basayev?

A: They are very careful. Onlythose tied to them by blood can get close to them. Could you make yourself cut the throats of our captured soldiers, so that Basayev accepted you as one of his own? Allthe same, soon it will be the end of these bandit leaders. Theydo not have long to live. Believe me.

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