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Why did she shoot?
Written by Сергей Михалыч   
Четверг, 07 Июнь 2007

nord-ost By Sergey Mihailych, «Novaya gazeta»

The fate of a video recording

In issue #90 of our December 1st, 2003, edition of ‘Novaya Gazeta’, we published video frame captures that came into our possession. In these the beginning of the hostage evacuation is clearly visible: hostages are carried out in the arms of special services soldiers, laid down on the steps in front of the entrance, and someone is seen injecting antidotes. Alongside this man some people in civilian clothes enter the area, with guns and white armbands.

After awhile a person is carried from the main entrance: his arms are behind his back, in handcuffs, and he is trying to hold up his head so that it does not strike the asphalt.

He is tossed onto the steps, and later dragged to one side. Judging from how his body relaxes, it is apparent that the man has lost consciousness. Some people in civilian clothes wearing armbands come up to him. One of them is a woman with a pistol in her hand. She aims at the supine man. A gunshot is heard, and even a muzzle flash is visible.

After publishing these materials we had hoped that the official investigation would show some momentary interest. We were wrong: no phone calls came, and there was no questioning. We had to ask our own questions, and demand that the video be included in the case. The Moscow city prosecutor did not react, and only after our conversations with the Russian prosecutor general did investigators show some restrained interest in our newspaper.

Kalchuk, who was in charge of the ‘Nord-Ost’ case, was invited into the office of the Moscow deputy city prosecutor. The conversation was a tense one: Kalchuk persuaded everyone that he had no need of this video, since he already had a copy and there was no one shooting at anyone on it. We had to convince those present there, in the prosecutor’s office, to view the recording. As a result, colleagues at the prosecutor’s office (but not Kalchuk) shouted: “It’s a different recording! Look – there’s something really there!” And so the cassette together with an edition of ‘Novaya Gazeta’ was attached to the case materials.

It was decided to send the cassette to experts to determine if there was a shot fired or not. We awaited the expert’s report for more than a half-year. We received the answer: “In conclusion it follows that the sound, recorded on the presented video-phonogram at the moment when the figure of a woman on the video recording raises her hand with a object therein in the direction of the supine person, was generated by an acoustic event whose source is outside the zone recorded on the examined video file. The indicated sound does not come from the shot of any of various types of firearms. There are no factors on the videocassette that accompany gunshots” signed, Kalchuk.

I will translate for you: it is obvious that somewhere, something fell at the very moment that the woman from the special services pointed some kind of an object at the supine man. Maybe even an umbrella. Who would go to a terror act without their umbrella?

The expert could have been mistaken. Accordingly, one can continue logically, the woman from the special services should be questioned, the same woman “with the umbrella” who might tell us what really went on. But, as far as we know, no one was ever questioned about this.

Perhaps they could not find this woman from the special services? We will allow that. But was the identity of the man in handcuffs ever determined? The investigation answers: “Yes. It was the hostage Gennady Vlakh.” Why then was the hostage in handcuffs? Why then was his body cremated along with the terrorists? Where are the autopsy materials that determined his cause of death?

We will grant that things got mixed up during the confusion of the assault. But, judging from everything, things got mixed up during the investigation as well. Vlakh’s relatives do not recognize their husband and father (in the recording). Several times, frame by frame, Anna Politkovskaya watched the video recording with them.

And so: who was this person – a terrorist or a hostage? Who were these people in the white armbands? And what really happened on the steps of the theater?

Principled questions, but the investigation has no desire to answer them.

Relatives of the dead, and victims as well, have more than a few questions. The main one: FROM WHAT DID THE HOSTAGES DIE OR BECOME VERY ILL? The investigation does not answer: officially the gas was never identified. Nor was it made known who gave the order to use it. It is also not clear why physicians were never instructed on what to do, or why the evacuation was so poorly organized.

This far from complete enumeration of questions can cause a person can come to but one conclusion – that there was no investigation. Moreover, there was no investigation because the conclusions of such an investigation would be catastrophic.

But now so much time has passed. Beslan has happened, and much more, so one can quietly and unnoticed rid themselves of these explosive secrets.

But one more question for the road: would Beslan have happened if ‘Nord-Ost’ had been investigated? Who can summon the courage to answer: yes or no?

By the way, take note: no one is bothering to investigate Beslan, either.

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