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Public outraged by cancellation of Dagestan performance
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, 06 2008
Public outraged by cancellation of Dagestan performance of play about ‘Nord-Ost’

In Makhachkala yesterday, on April 5th, hundreds came to a second showing of a play on the events in the theater on Dubrovka, but it had been canceled. Organizers of the show refer to an unofficial ban by the president of Dagestan.
Hundreds of spectators could not get into the theater for a second showing of a play dedicated to the tragic events in the theater on Dubrovka, titled ‘Everything is in your hands’. Theadministration of the theater told ‘Caucasian Knot’ that the play would not take place due to the illness of the actress playing the lead role.

According to the director of the play, however, the cause of the abolition was quite different. OnApril 4th, the day before the planned second showing, the official premiere was held and attended by the president of Dagestan, Mukhu Aliyev, as well as the chairman of the National Assembly of the Dagestan Republic, Magomed Suleymanov. Thepremiere took place in a crowded auditorium under the applause of spectators, but a planned second showing on April 5th was canceled.

“I can’t explain the reason for the ban,” said the director of the play, Skanderbek Tulparov, artistic director of the Russian Theater. “I used to think there was no longer any mechanism to allow them to ban a play, but it turns out there still is. Somepeople just came and referred to the president of Dagestan and said the show can no longer go on.” According to the director, the decision to cancel the play “was made at the highest level.”

“Why do officials have to intervene and dictate what we can watch and what we can’t?” indignantly asked Maria, a teacher from Makhachkala who came to the show.

Residents of Dagestan who did not make it to the show expressed their outrage to the republic’s Ministry of Culture, as well as to authorities in Dagestan, who “just like in the Soviet days have started a witch hunt.”

“If the president didn’t like something about the show, than that’s his personal business,” said one of the performers in an interview with a correspondent from ‘Caucasian Knot’. “The artists rehearsed so much to prepare for the show, and this is the result.”

“I wanted to show my students how the tragedy unfolded during the showing of ‘Nord-Ost’,” said a teacher from Derbent. “We came all the way to Makhachkala with the children, but what can Itell the students now? Thatour leadership has decided to declare the topic taboo?”

A representative of the press center for the president and the government of Dagestan would neither confirm nor deny that authorities had banned the performance.

“I haven’t heard such an ovation in a long time,” said the director of the play, Skanderbek Tulparov. “Nor have Iseen such a reception in awhile. Thespectators cheered. I’ve gotten so many compliments. There was so much excitement. Itsupported my spirit in this difficult situation.”

The director says he does not regret staging the play, and does not consider the performance a mistake. “Not for one second do Iregret it. I’m telling the truth. Ididn’t offend anyone. Ijust talked about these people’s tragedy. Ifwe’re talking about an indivisible Russia, then we must remember that the Chechens and the Russians are all our people. Wehave compassion for everyone who got into this situation,” said Tulparov.

Tulparov also said that he hopes to once again put the play on in Makhachkala, as well as in London and New York. “I’ll fight for this play. Ihope to invite experts from the Russian Ministry of Culture here so that they can watch and evaluate the performance. Wewere to play in London and New York. Wewere already preparing for the tour. Naturally, in such a situation, we won’t be allowed to go. Sowe’re hoping for help from the Ministry of Culture,” the director said.

The writer of the play, British playwright Natalya Pelevayn, who is located in Makhachkala, confirmed the banning of the play by the authorities. “Officially, spectators who came today with tickets were told that the actress, who plays the main role, was ill and so the performance was canceled,” said Natalya Pelevayn. “But this isn’t true. Behind the scenes there was talk that the president of Dagestan insisted that the show must be stopped right now. Ihad hoped for the opposite effect, that the play would be viewed positively. Ithought the problem of terrorism was taken seriously here, and that they intended to fight it not only by force, but through, as they say, a different format.”

In the play ‘Everything is in your hands’, the action revolves around a conversation between a hostage female journalist and a female suicide bomber in the terrorist-held theater where ‘Nord-Ost’ had been showing. During the performance actors not only play their parts on stage, but also in the auditorium.

According to the organizers of the show, participants in the production are going to send a letter to the leadership of Dagestan, asking for an official explanation for the cancellation of the show.

As previously reported by ‘Caucasian Knot’, FSB director Nikolai Patrushev admitted to errors in the hostage rescue operation in the Moscow theatrical center on Dubrovka in 2002. Patrushev acknowledged this in a documentary shown on ‘1st Channel’ on December 19th.

“The capture of Dubrovka by terrorists really forced us to start from scratch,” Patrushev said after a voice-over in the documentary, stating that the armed seizure of artists and spectators of the musical ‘Nord-Ost’ could be described as the first ‘live’ terror attack in modern history.

It should be noted, however, that part of the public believes that the events on Dubrovka were not a mistake, but a planned provocation by the security services.
In early July of 2007, representatives of the ‘Nord-Ost’ public organization, which was created in 2003to seek information about the hostage rescue operation, filed an appeal to the Prosecutor General of Russia, asking for criminal proceedings against members of the operational headquarters tasked with the hostage rescue.
On June 1st, 2007, the investigation into the terrorist attack was temporarily suspended. Thereason given was the inability to locate the accused.

Reference: On October 23rd, 2002a group of militants led by 23-year-old Movsar Barayev seized the audience of the musical ‘Nord-Ost’ in Moscow. 923spectators and actors of the musical were taken hostage. Inexchange for the lives of the hostages, Barayev’s gang demanded the immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all federal forces from the territory of Chechnya. Themilitants’ demands were not met, and on October 26th, 2002, the authorities stormed the theater.

According to various estimates, from 125to 130people were killed, and over 700injured. Mostof the deaths were due to a lack of medical care after the use of gas, the formula for which is still unknown. All40 terrorists (21 men and 19women) were killed during the assault.

In ‘Caucasian Knot’

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