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Sasha Letyago’s memorials
Written by Марина Дайнеко   
Пятница, 13 Июль 2007
Article Index
Sasha Letyago’s memorials
Page 2
Page 3

By Marina Daineko

July 13th, 2007



The face of a little girl who will never grow up.

But who will answer for this and many other broken lives?

Bright is her memory. Hers, and the memory of all who died at Dubrovka.

The face of a little girl, for whose death old men received medals.

"Happiness is a philosophical concept, and every family has its own happiness. Happiness in our family was Sashenka.” So wrote her aunt, Roza Ishchenko. Look at the Memorial Book, reader. Look at the bright face of this little girl who will forever remain 13. The face of a little girl, who, perhaps, while still alive, was tossed onto the steel floor of a medical service UAZ van by her so-called rescuers, and then covered by the bodies of 12 other hostages.

She was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, in 1989. The web site created and maintained by her mother, Svetlana Gubareva, has a memorial book with a page dedicated to every hostage of the Dubrovka theatrical center. Sasha’s address is: http://nord-ost.org/kniga-pamyati/letyago-aleksandra.html.

“Knowing our laws and the work of our Prosecutor General, the connections between that office and the government, we cannot count on anything. ‘Nord-Ost’ is a forbidden theme and it is not advantageous for our prosecutors or the government to investigate this. We have received so much information that the prosecutor would have to work too hard to disprove the evidence against those in charge of the operation at Dubrovka. We, however, do not even rule out the personal responsibility of even the president,” declared Tatiana Karpova, coordinator for the ‘Nord-Ost’ public organization.

“At the very bottom was a 13-year-old girl…”


The hostage rescue operation could be divided into two parts. The first part covered the actions of the special forces. This part was considered to be a success, and the general consensus is that the actions of the special forces prevented the explosion of the building, and the use of the ‘special substance’ led to a quick knockout of the terrorists. The facts we have gathered from the criminal case and the media, however, attest to the preconceived nature of this assertion.

In her book, ‘Through the eyes of a former hostage’, T. Popova recounts the words of one of the hostages, who told about what went on at that moment in the auditorium: “We all saw white smoke coming from above, and noticed a smell. A woman terrorist was sitting next to me. She said, ‘this is a gas attack — go wet something and breath through this cloth, head for the exit and the ambulances will come for you soon’. My friend and I went to the exit and we told other hostages along the way, but no one came with us. They were afraid to walk past the bomb. We decided that if they were going to blow us up, then it didn’t matter where we were, and we got to the exit. I passed out right at the door.”

There are more than enough facts that attest to the negligence in organizing medical assistance. Many have viewed scenes from the video chronicle in which one can see the process of carrying people from the theater, piling them on the steps, and loading them into buses without providing enough medical workers or drugs.

Referring to this article, I sent a petition to the prosecutor’s office demanding that they investigate and determine the details of what occurred, but I was refused the satisfaction of my legal desire. The investigator did not acquaint me with any kinds of materials that would answer my questions, but did not forget to ask for my signature on a non-disclosure agreement. I consider this an attempt to force me to silence.

Right away it was clear that several persons had were already dead in the vehicle. Not from the gas, but from being crushed under other bodies. At the very bottom was a 13-year-old girl. Diagnosis: crushed to death.”

The first assignment for the intensive-care workers was to unload the vehicle. Fortunately, it was a good time. 9 a.m. was shift change, and there were twice as many workers as usual. They were brought to bear, including this reporter who at first tried to work in his specialty, but after a look from the chief of the department, began to help.

The doors were finally opened, while they, in turn, opened the doors of their vehicle. The department workers’ hair stood on end. Inside the 12-seat UAZ were 30 (THIRTY!) casualties, stacked on top of each other like cordwood (you cannot describe it any other way). Motionless. Without any gunshot wounds. Those who were in the front of the microbus could say nothing about the nature of the injuries.

“…No one even paid attention to the khaki-colored UAZ van that drove up to the department’s doors at about 9 a.m. Those who brought the UAZ did not know that around the side was a door that was always open, for service personnel, and so for a long time they beat against the locked reception doors.

Not long ago I learned how they rescued Sasha. While putting together materials for the web site, I found an old article with a detailed description of the events: http://nord-ost.org/vospominaniya/rasskazyivaet-zhurnalist-ochevidets-sobyitiy.html

I believe that whoever made the decision to use the gas (whether it was the chief of the headquarters staff or V. V. Putin personally) could not help but know that, in making such a decision, he was sentencing us to death. While those who carried out the orders conducted a combat operation at first, they later, in full kit, carried hostages out of the theater because at that moment there was no one else to do it. One of them carried my daughter.

Sasha Letyago in the arms of a special forces soldier, a frame from the video chronicle

The use of the ‘special substance’ under conditions where they could not control the individual dosage for each hostage, or provide immediate medical assistance to the casualties, significantly increased the chances of a lethal finale for the hostages.

One can divide ‘siloviki’ into two types: those who made the decision and gave the orders, and those who carried out these orders. The former head of the KGB’s 3rd Directorate (military counter-intelligence), Vice Admiral Alexander Zhardetsky, in an interview with Interfax on October 24th, 2002, stated that it would be impossible to use a gas attack, since children, and adults with illnesses, would “undoubtedly come to a fatal end”.

The facts presented prove that the use of the ‘special substance’ in the theater did not correspond with the reasons for its use: the gunmen were not rendered motionless, and they were able to actively resist.

“Literally right after entering the building, the special forces as one Alfa group member puts it, ‘met counter-fire from assault rifles’. One of the terrorists was shot down in the corridor, and when they entered the room where Barayev and his comrades had given their interview two days before, they again met with fire. Return fire with assault rifles and grenades destroyed the gunmen. According to a ‘Vympel’ team member, the special units entered the auditorium from the direction of the stage and the main entrance. He stated that the bandits on stage fired on the special forces, but were destroyed by return fire. A female terrorist was killed by the hall entrance while she was trying to throw a grenade and fire on the special forces men. The ‘V’ team man stated, ‘in one hand she had a pistol and in her other hand was a grenade with the pin pulled, but she never managed to release the handle’.”

Following the operation, representatives of the special forces gave an interview on television station ‘Rossiya’. Not long ago I managed to view this interview and read an article on it. The special forces soldiers told how a large number of terrorists were conscious and brought frantic, armed resistance to bear: http://nord-ost.org/2002/terroristyi-okazali-ozhestochennoe-vooruzhennoe-soprotivlenie-2.html

From an analytical report on the results of the hostage interrogations (case volume 1, pages 95-6): http://nord-ost.org/prilozheniya-k-dokladu/prilozhenie-14.-analiticheskaya-spravka-po-rezultatam-issledovaniya-protokolov-dop.html “…At the moment of the assault, when the gas was released, Barayev began running around the auditorium and shouting for the windows to be opened. Several terrorists opened fire from the stage, but the hostages were unable to say in which direction they were shooting. The female terrorists did not try to blow themselves up. They covered their faces with their shawls and lay down on the floor among the hostages. In ten minutes everyone was unconscious.”

“ANDRIANOVA: I don’t know what kind of gas it is, but I see the reaction, that these people don’t want the deaths of ours and theirs, but I think our ‘siloviki’ (military, police, and security services) have started doing something, I think they don’t want us to make it out of here alive and they’re ending the situation this way…”

From the transcript:

Radio station ‘Echo of Moscow’ has an audio recording of a telephone call made at 5:30 a.m. on October 26th, 2002; at the very moment the gas was released into the auditorium. You can listen to it (or read the transcript) on the web site: http://nord-ost.org/hronika-terakta/telefonnyiy-razgovor-s-zalozhnitsami-pered-samyim-nachalom-shturma-tts-na-dub.html. The conversation lasts about four minutes – time enough to connect the contacts of a bomb. None of the terrorists, however, made such an attempt.

For the sake of the future of a country whose leadership learned nothing from this tragedy.

For the sake of the memory of the 129 who died together with her.

For the sake of the memory of Sasha Letyago, who in three days would have been 18.

And so we do not keep quiet.

“I know that as long as ‘kangaroo courts’ reign in Russia our chances are minimal, or more precisely, exactly zero. I have already passed through the circles of Hell in court hearings, and I can well imagine what the result will be this time. The Prosecutor General will send the declaration to various agencies, and later there will be a refusal to satisfy the declared demands. I think that the prosecutor’s office will not labor too hard over the justification and the refusal will have some sort of general wording. Later, those who wrote the petition will appeal it in court. It will not be too hard to guess the court’s decision: another refusal. You say that I am a pessimist? No, I am a well-informed optimist; otherwise I would never have even tried ‘beat on a locked door’. After all, one cannot change the world if one does nothing. For most people it was an abstract number, a mere 130 people dying, but they were for us our loved ones, our ‘one and only’. If you have time to read some of the documents, then you will understand why it is impossible to keep quiet about the deaths of these ‘mere 130’.”

I asked her a question by e-mail: what does she think about the group of ‘Nord-Ost’ people who sent a declaration to the Prosecutor General demanding criminal charges against members of the hostage rescue headquarters (a petition that journalists at Grani.ru with their light touch have named ‘Dubrovka against the Lyubyanka’). Svetlana replied almost immediately:

“…Everything’s fine here,” Sveta writes. “I spend a lot of time on correspondence, since one has to talk people into things and direct the process of collecting information by long distance. To convince someone of something in a letter is a lot harder than in conversation. You must think out your arguments with care, and since I think slowly, writing letters is a long and tortuous process. Between letters I go outside the city. The strawberries are ripe and there are already raspberries, mulberries, and cherries along the way. There are a lot of strawberries this year…”

Svetlana Gubareva now lives in Karaganda, or, as she puts it, “a life apart from the Muscovites”. She actively works on bringing to life her idea of a memorial book, http://nord-ost.org/kniga-pamyati/3.html, in which there would be a page dedicated to every one of the 130 who died at Dubrovka.

Judging from the London precedent, however, there may be no objective answers from the Russian Prosecutor General.

Time will tell what sort of answers the Strasbourg court receives.

All these questions essentially coincide with the demands of the former hostages and the relatives of the dead, who for five years have been fighting for a normal investigation into the ‘Nord-Ost’ criminal case.

Were the courts independent and objective, considering the financial support the Moscow city government provides the courts?

Did the government pay attention to all circumstances in identifying and punishing those guilty of the violent operation?

With regards to the lack of medical assistance, were the hostages subject to humiliation and inhumane treatment during the hostage rescue operation?

Was the decision to end the crisis by force (using gas) absolutely necessary?

Did the authorities do everything possible to solve the hostage problem at Dubrovka through negotiations?

Secondly, in the beginning of April of this year, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has begun hearings on a complaint by 57 victims of the ‘Nord-Ost’ case, under the collective title ‘Chernetsova and others versus Russia’. The Russian government was sent a host of very embarrassing questions, such as, for example:

First off, the ‘Nord-Ost’ case, which has now been halted, has joined with other cases – the victims of the terror acts in Beslan and Volgodonsk.

The most important thing, in my overseas view, is this:

Now it is July of 2007. What has happened in all these years?

A bit later Svetlana says that all the decisions on the causes of death are identicle, like twin brothers, and are lies from beginning to end because, according to these specially instructed experts, the reason from the fatal outcome in each case was allegedly “a confluence of factors: a lack of water, stress, serous chronic diseases, and being seated in an uncomfortable position for a long time. The special substance, however, has merely a coincidental relationship with death”. (The name ‘special substance’, apparently, is understood to be the gas that poisoned people at Dubrovka.)

February of 2004. The fat packet of papers that arrived from Moscow has been sitting there a long time, unopened. Svetlana could not get here to Brooklyn from snowed-in New Jersey. Finally she arrives, the package is opened and, sitting on the old sofa in our living room, Svetlana reads the forensic medical decision regarding the death of her 13-year-old daughter, Alexandra Letyago-Gubareva. As she reads, I carefully pick up the awful pages as she finishes them and try to make out the printed lines through my tears.

When speaking at the third anniversary of the tragedy, Svetlana Gubareva addressed the dead: “Forgive us that we still haven’t found and punished the guilty. Justice is still mute, but sooner or later everyone must answer for all they have done in this life, answer before the highest court, which they even call celestial. This court grants no immunity, it is unprejudiced, cannot be bribed, and is inescapable. One day they will have to answer for your deaths, for ‘Nord-Ost’. Excuse us for not protecting you back then. We have no way to fix the past.”

From that phone call on, everything changed for me.

The ‘Nord-Ost’ tragedy entered my life almost 5 years ago, in October of 2002, when a reader called the offices of the newspaper I was working at and said that she knew Sandy Booker, the only American citizen who died during the hostage seizure in the theatrical center at Dubrovka.

It was this organization that filed a petition with the Russian Prosecutor General, demanding that a criminal case be brought against members of the hostage rescue headquarters. Directors of the organization declared this at a press conference on Wednesday, July 11th. They accuse FSB director Nikolai Patrushev and his assistant, Vladimir Pronichev, as well as the chief of the FSB special forces center, Alexander Tikhonov, and the former secretary of the president’s security council, Vladimir Rushailo. At the same time they made the petition to the Prosecutor General, the human rights advocates sent a similar letter to Vladimir Putin.

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  Comments (29)
21. Written by Марина, on 17-12-2007 20:09
Люба, вы опередили меня. Под всем тем, что вы здесь сказали, я подписываюсь. Кроме, пожалуй, вашего „а может быть…“ У меня, например, нет сомнений, что не только мэрия Москвы, но и вся Россия хочет побыстрее забыть и Норд-Ост, и Беслан, и многое другое. То, что там происходит сегодня — страшно. Но наверное, страшнее другое — вот я написала эти строчки и спохватилась, а не наврежу ли своим комментарием? Ведь наверняка все это мониторится и может быть использовано против. До чего мы дошли? Вернее, к чему мы снова возвращаемся? Что нас ждет впереди? И когда я говорю НАС, я имею в виду не только тех, кто живет в России. А Сашеньку и всех тех, кто погиб на Дубровке, мы будем помнить.
22. Памяти Саши Летяго
Written by Шалимовы Виктор и Людмила, on 25-10-2008 01:53
Как только наступает июль — мы всегда вспоминаем Сашу — и лето на стройке дачи, когда ты ее маленькую приносила к нам в туалет, и встречи с Сашой на лестничной площадке, когда она после школы приходила домой, такая скромная и послушная, рано повзрослевшая девочка, и ее радостные глаза после поездок в Москву после встреч с Сэнди. Кто знал! Я всегда говорила Вите — твоя невества растет в соседней квартирею Сейчас она была бы действительно уже невеста. Света, мы всегда будем помнить о вашей трагедии. Светлая память Саше!
23. Ужасно!
Written by Юлия, on 05-11-2008 22:47
Бедная Сашенька! КАК ГОРЬКО!!!!!! НЕТ СЛОВ!
24. Светлане
Written by Юлия, on 15-11-2008 21:12
Дорогая Светлана! Когда произошли страшные события „Норд-Оста“ я училась на первом курсе института,и хоть ужасно переживала за заложников,не могла полностью осознать какая это была чудовищная трагедия! И лишь зайдя на этот сайт и прочитав некоторые книги по этой теме,в частности книгу Э. Тополя,я и моя мама поняли масштабы того ужаса!!!!!! Господи,как вы выдержали все это! Ваша трогательная и светлая история любви с Сэнди тоже не могла оставитьнас равнодушными! Как же ужасно и несправедливо то что со всеми вами произошло!!! Нет тут и не может быть никаких слов утешения,ибо они пусты и бесполезны! Но я уверена,что вы знаете,нохочется еще раз вам сказать,что награда за все эти муки вам ОБЯЗАТЕЛЬНО БУДЕТ!!! Живете и дальше так же достойно как сейчас и на небесах вас обязательно встретят,когда придет ваш срок и Сэнди и конечно Саша! Вы увидетесь,помните об этом,жизнь не кончается и не может кончаться со смертью!
25. Written by Екатерина, on 19-10-2010 23:17
Простите. Простите и извините, что не было возможности соболезновать Вам вовремя. Говорю от себя, но уверена, что многие из республики Беларусь поддержат моё мнение, примите искренние соболезнования по поводу потери родных и любимых Вам людей, мне очень жаль, что Вам пришлось всё это пережить. Искренне желаю Вам силы духа и крепости в своей борьбе за правду. Дай Бог Вам здоровья и сил! Извините ради Бога, если не в тему, я просто не смогла пройти мимо и не хочу никого задеть или обидеть
26. годовщина
Written by Юлия, on 24-10-2012 17:50
Сашенька, милая всегда вспоминаю тебя в каждую годовщину, хоть и никогда тебя не знала! А вам, Светлана сил, терпения и здоровья! Храни вас Господь! Полностью поддерживаем вас в вашей борьбе за правду, как верно написала выше Екатерина.
27. 16 июля- День Рождения Саши
Written by Д.М., on 16-07-2014 23:48
Пусть печаль будет светлой…
28. Спите спокойно, девчонки…
Written by Максим Гацелюк website, on 24-10-2017 10:56
На Троекуровском у меня похоронен брат. Всегда заходили к нему с другой стороны — а тут недавно, пошли по той дорожке, что прямо за могилой Саши. Конечно, обратили внимание на этот красивый памятник, и на надпись на плите… Почитал историю Саши в интернете. Слов нет… гр***я страна, живого спасённого ребёнка, пережившего всё это, в итоге всё-таки отправить на тот свет…

А сегодня ездили — и увидели, что прямо справа, похоронена Фролова Дарья — тоже Норд-Ост, и те же годы выбиты… Но про неё, подробностей в в интернете не видать.

Купили девчонкам по букету цветов и по фонарику. Очень жаль… Спите спокойно…
29. для Максима Гацелюка про Дашу Фролову
Written by РОО „НОРД-ОСТ“ website, on 24-10-2017 23:02
Про Дашу Фролову- здесь: http://www.nord-ost.org/memorial-zhertv-terakta/frolova-darya_ru.html
Название для Книги Памяти взято из её письма к матери…

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