Skip to comments.A vanity from a former Hostage
Posted on 10/22/2004 10:23:46 PM PDT by svni
I would like to summon up my courage and declare that, of all the participants in this discussion, only I am personally acquainted with Anna Politkovskaya and, perhaps, the reality of Russia.
And so, I feel that I have the right to say the following:
1. It is an abominable idea, that Anna was not poisoned, but was only trying to enhance her image. She has already made her name and displayed her authority, not only in the former Soviet Union, but in other countries as well. None of you show her any sympathy, though no one has the right to take her life outside of the law, no matter how bad she may be.
2. Have any of you, as Anna did, sat in a hole without food or water, as a hostage of the federals in Chechnya, have any of you seen murdered children and the faces of their parents, so that you can accuse her of deceipt or hypocrisy for the sake of popularity? Who of you has left all business behind in the USA, in order to stand in the middle of a city square under the guns of spetsnaz and terrorists, awaiting the decision by some headquarters on whether you could buy some juice with your own money to carry into the Moscow theater, to help us, the hostages there?
3. Why has the elementary thought not occurred to any of you, that a person can love their country, their city, their people, and want that life in their country should be as comfortable as in the USA?
4. Why have so many of you taken it upon yourselves to play God and decide which people should live, and which should not?
My friend very accurately describs terrorism and the fight against it in Russia. I can devise nothing better than her words here:
"Terrorists, including those who seized the school in Beslan, they are brain-dead degenerates and curs. Do not forgive them, insult them, or pay them attention. Don't give them anything. If there is a realistic chance of destroying them without risking, or minimally risking, the lives of hostages, this chance should be taken, quickly, decisively, and without doubts. For the sake of saving people, I negotiated with them and continued to the last opportunity, in the hope of saving people. I could care less how the surrounding world related to my activities, or what were the opinions of dense, impatient cowards, corrupt officials, and the like. Officials change rapidly and forever; people only live once, and they die forever. If someone were to take offense that I figuratively splash excrement on the honor of his uniform, I would exchange him without pity for women and children, no matter who he was. If this person cannot understand the value of human life, let him see for himself how it feels.
"That terrorists are the last of the degenerates does not mean that anti-terrorists have spotless hands which carry happiness and joy into every home. If we find among the anti-terrorists mediocrity, non-entities whose honor is for sale, liars, boasters, and heartless martinets - who defend only the honor of their uniform and the uniform of their commanders, then the result will be even worse acts by the terrorists; actually these two teams will play for a single goal - the death of the hostages.
"I am for effective anti-terror.
"If I don't support anti-terrorists, it does not mean that I support terrorists. It means that the anti-terrorists have not managed their tasks and have only increased the consequences of the terror act, and in so doing became accomplices of the terrorists.
"Anti-terrorists can cover up the details of situations and limit publicity about the proceedings as long as this is required in the interests of saving people. But every attempt to lie, distort the essence of the proceedings or what occurred, to shift blame for their errors onto others - this is a criminal offense which cannot be excused or expiated by any means; in this case the anti-terrorists are the terrorists' accomplices and should be punished together with them.
"Anti-terrorists bear full and unconditional responsibility for their actions. Anti-terror is not a joke, it's not a picnic on the curb, it's not checking IDs or ripping off rich people, it's not making up a budget or other official matters pleasant to the body and soul. Any attempt to shirk responsibility or let another pay the price aids the terrorists and anti-terrorists above all should be punished in the harshest manner, without difference as to man, job title, his merits, or anything else.
"The activities of anti-terrorists should not directed towards solving hostage crises, dealing with the after-effects of explosions and other diversions, but centered on making sure none of this ever happens. Any terror act, explosion, or diversion is an indication of poor work by the anti-terrorists. The aim of terror acts, explosions, and diversions are to show fully the unsatisfactory work of the anti-terrorists, and demands an immediate investigation and improvement of their work; high-ranking jobs and loud-sounding names are not for alleviating circumstances, but aggravating them.
"If a terror act happens somewhere anyhow, an investigation of its reasons and the activities of the anti-terrorists should be maximally open and uncompromising. Openness provides not just a chance of eliminating the possible causes of acts of terror, but provides the majority of people with information on how to conduct themselves in critical situations, whom they may trust, and whom they may not. Even a small amount of knowledge of what to do under difficult situations may help to save the lives of a majority of people.
"Everyone needs to remember that the heroism of some people is always the result of the consequences of inactivity, carelessness, corruption, or incompentence of others. If somewhere the need for heroism arises, it means that there were significant, unsurmountable problems that could only be overcome through the sacrifice of their own lives. Where the is heroism, you will find the lowest and most base of people; if it was all a result of their actions or inactions, thant these need to be found and treated as accomplices of the terrorists. If this is not done today, then it will all repeat again tomorrow, and most likely, with even worse consequences.
"The struggle against terror should not be carried out using the terrorists' methods, because this generates an endless cycle of bloody wars without rules or a reasonable exit. The principal of collective responsibility is the the basis of terror, no matter under what slogans or in what form it is carried out. No government, religious, or ideologic offices, programs, slogans, or pressing needs can justify extra-judicial violence, cruelty, or secret courts.
"I have purposely not named any of the government services, officials, and the like, because I do not believe that the presciptions for combating terrorist evil are any different in various corners of the world. But at this time I live in the Russian Federation, a government that has been in a state of war for many years already.
"Anti-terrorists (secret services) came to power in the Russian Federation five years ago with slogans of a struggle with terror and providing safety to the citizenry. Gigantic resources are concentrated in the hands of the anti-terrorists. Through the efforts of the military (the army are not anti-terrorists) the terrorists were driven off into the mountains, and deprived of their main bases, and their communications were seriously disrupted. The servicemen did practically everything that was in their power. Society gave anti-terrorists a huge amount of trust in advance, thanks to these servicemen. Now anti-terrorists comprise 70% of those who make decisions in the government, including the very head of the regime. Fighting terror is supposedly the main specialty of these anti-terrorists, but the result of their five years at the helm has been an intensified wave of terror acts throughout Russia. Now this wave has washed over Moscow and the North Caucasus, but this in no way means that other parts of Russia are safe.
"Thus, it has been proven through practice - a terrible, bloody, and inhumane practice - that these new Soviet anti-terrorists are ineffective. Since the army has not changed during this time, the blame is soley the anti-terrorists'. The old punitive and repressive structures have been shown to be helpless against the real challenges of our time, and this is why they we cast them off during perestroika. We need to replace all these monsters for more something more effective that they are now. It does not matter that we are in mid-stream, or that it's a bad time for it - it's already too late to wait for a better opportunity. The enemy is at the gates, and he doesn't care who is next."
Svetlana Gubareva, former hostage.
Svetlana Nikolaevna: Spokoyno, tikho. Lovish' bol'she mukh sakharom chem s uksusom.
Me too :) MarMema - sounding boards are useful.
come one over and see the deadwood that Putin has to put up with in neighboring countries.
Evil and lies are never useful, however. And should always be brought quickly to the light with truth and facts. Where they wither from their own exposure.
I could spend all day doing so. It is child's work to refute such obvious and ridiculous distortions of the truth.
What I find most disgusting is the fact that not only do these people not even think, apparently, but they seek to hurt others who are doing what they can to save us all from the next global caliphate, and they support those who kill in the name of Allah.
Stabbing and mutilating children, raping teenage girls and making a video of it, blowing up airplanes filled with civilians, suicide bombers standing next to infants in strollers, making snuff films of beheadings - they are all one and the same, and the people posting on behalf of them are also one and the same.
I see no difference between those supporting these monsters here on FR and those who actually do the killing.
Having to ask why the Russians would execute the women who took part in the Nord-Ost hostage crisis is the most telling question I have heard yet. What part of terrorists threatening to blow up hundreds of civilians do they not understand?
By the way you might want to click on the poster of that second thread you linked to in your initial post.
Knock it off with the abuse reports.
I know you were invited here by Peter. I have great respect for him.
But please, I've NOT seen any report to support this statement:
>>>The world exhaled in relief on the morning of October 26th, 2002, when the Russian government officially stated that it was ALL OVER WITHOUT CASUALTIES, that all the hostages were saved.<<<
Do you have a link to show for this?
And for your comment about not shooting a terrorist that doesn't have an explosive belt...that is standard training procedure. That isn't indigenous to Russia. Any swat team/anti terror team would shoot on sight once an incident gets to a hostage situation.
I'm lost here. What is your point?
== =we all want life in every country to be as comfortable as is it in the USA.
God help us the rest of the world grow as "comfortable" as we in a nation which murders over one million of our own unborn each year, whose gaping mouth waters at the prospect of Human Life as Cash-Crop and who have traded our liberty for "Security Services."
Now that men never again will be "created" equal in this country, we're not exactly positioned to be "democratizing" the world with all the Pre-Emptive arrogance of Adepts steeped in the alchemy of pragmatistm.
=== You say you don't defend terrorists and then you say this.While you're busy-busy-busy posting Facts to enlighten others on this particular thread, perhaps you could point out to Cold Heat that the IRA got their ideas for terrorism and political murder (which they used to pressure the Crown, the US and the UN into Da Briarpatch) from the only successful terrorists the world has ever known.
(Sharon is my hero)
I see no difference between those supporting these monsters here on FR and those who actually do the killing. I see no difference between those supporting these monsters here on FR and those who actually do the killing.
What part of terrorists
threatening to blowhaving blown up hundreds of civilians do they not understand?
(Save those who were sent packing back to Russia in sealed trains with plenty of spending money, perhaps.)
I can't see the url, but will post the site that it came from in the next post.
this article from Canada refers to the lies that Russia told.
Is this the same gas that Reno and Clinton used on the Americans at Waco?
The previous article that I posted, came from page 18, there
are 20 pages of articles, several worth reading and thinking about. They are under the media link.
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Do you agree that the
events in the Moscow
theatre require an
Plea for Justice
We, the parents and son of Grigory Burban who died as a result of gas recklessly used by the Russian
authorities in Moscow's Nord-Ost hostage standoff are asking the following:
Everyone who values human life, who does not want the tragedy to repeat itself, and never to see the names
of the loved ones in the lists of deceased must join us in our efforts. We are convinced that our son and my
father, one of more than 128 hostages, had died due to criminal negligence of the Russian authorities which
have not provided timely and adequate medical help after the theatre's storm. People in charge did not follow
the most basic procedures of rescuing hostages who were poisoned by gas. The Russian government's
actions were immoral and constitute a crime against humanity. This crime must be solved and the perpetrators
must be punished.
Russian government attempts to cover up the aftermath of the Nord-Ost tragedy. To this date, the
authorities have not released a full list of victims. Information has been censored and access to victims in the
hospitals was blocked to the journalists and diplomats. Russian government is using the pretext of war
against terrorism to make people believe that all the means are acceptable in fighting terrorism, including
killing its own people and foreigners. Those 128 hostages have not died from the gunshots of the terrorists.
They have died because people in charge care more about political agenda than human lives. They have died
because of the government that historically puts its state affairs above all, even human life.
It is yet to be determined what exactly went wrong with the planning and the execution of the rescue
operation that resulted in so many deaths. We ask the relatives, victims, specialists, journalists, human rights
activists, and everyone else who has a strong opinion about this terrible tragedy to try to help us in our
efforts to bring those responsible to justice. It is our duty to do so in order to ensure that no one, nowhere,
and at no time will be a victim of such crimes.
Terrorism cannot be justified. Neither can be the actions of the government that values lives of its own
citizens no more than lives of the very terrorists it is trying to defeat.
November 14, 2002
No inquiry into Nord-Ost drama
By Artyom Vernidoub, Viktor Dimentman
The State Duma has rejected calls for a
parliamentary investigation into last months
hostage-drama in a Moscow musical theatre that
ended with 128 hostages dead - most of them
poisoned by gas used by the security forces to
disable the terrorists. It now seems there will be no
probe into the storming and its aftermath. And not
only this time, but in the future if a similar tragedy
ever takes place again.
The lower house was to review the proposal of the
Union of the Rightist Forces (SPS) over a week ago,
just before the November 7 holiday (Russias
National Day of Accord and Reconciliation), but at
their last pre-holiday session they said they needed
more time to discuss the issue. An alternative draft
resolution submitted by another liberal party
Yabloko had not even been included in the
agenda of that session, which prompted Grigory
Yavlinsky and his colleagues to hold a grudge
against the right-wingers and accuse them of
conspiring with the Kremlin.
It could be argued that the Dumas liberal factions
behaved somewhat strangely. From the very start it
was clear that their proposals would not receive
any support from the pro-Kremlin factions.
The leftist forces in the State Duma have banded
together following the theatre siege, avoiding any
public statements on the issue (other than
Zyuganovs claim that Putin was to blame for
everything), meaning the rightists should have
known better than to count on the Communists
support for their initiatives.
However, instead of merging their efforts, the
liberals lapsed into mutual mudslinging. To begin
with, the SPS refused to discuss its draft resolution
for an inquiry with Yabloko, and Yavlinskys
supporters, for their part, said the SPSs draft had
been composed to please the Kremlin, since it
placed the blame for the hostages deaths on
''The SPSs draft does not call for an investigation
into the true cause of the hostages deaths and
claims that this subject should be closed
altogether,'' the deputy chairman of the Yabloko
faction Sergei Ivanenko told the press.
''For me those allegations are like water off a
ducks back,'' Boris Nemtsov later retorted.
On Wednesday the SPS and Yabloko continued to
argue, completely destroying any chance of a
Deputy chairman of the SPS faction Boris
Nadezhdin tried to explain that the difference
between the two drafts was minimal, while
Yablokos Ivanenko did find a difference, and a very
substantial one: ''The SPS assumes that the
operation to liberate the hostages was carried out
brilliantly, while we think that the parliamentary
commission must find out how it was carried out.''
Only the maverick Liberal-Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky interfered in the squabble
between Yabloko and the Rightists. He demanded
those deputies who entered into contact with the
hostage-takers be punished. Obviously, by that
Zhirnovsky meant Grigory Yavlinsky, Boris Nemtsov
and Irina Khakamada, but not Iosif Kobzon. The
deputies were among those with whom the
terrorists were willing to discuss their demands.
Zhirinovsky said that at the deputies meeting with
Putin held during the theatre siege, he was the only
one who demanded that the authorities begin to
storm the building as soon as possible, while other
Duma leaders beseeched the President to launch
talks with the terrorists.
Yablokos Sergei Mitrokhin has since called for
Zhirinovsky to be held liable for spreading
The deputies Oleg Utkin (Unity), Yuri Konev
(Peoples Deputy Group), and Anatoly Chekhoyev
of the Communist Party spoke against both drafts,
effectively putting an end to yesterdays debate. As
a result, the draft of the rightists received only 38
votes, while 124 deputies backed Yablokos
proposal. The required minimum was 226.
Thus, the parliamentary probe into last months
hostage crisis has failed to get off the ground.
Initially it had seemed that the determination of the
liberals might challenge the official propaganda.
The Kremlin probably recognized the threat,
prompting Putin to summon Yavlinsky on the eve of
the November holidays and praising him for
keeping silent on the Nord-Ost issue.
Putin lauded the Yabloko leader for his conduct
during the tragic events in Moscow. Yavlinsky was
among those whom the hostage-takers invited to
act as a negotiator on behalf of the authorities. He
spent several hours in talks with the rebels and
when he emerged from the captured building he did
not utter a single word to the press.
It was after Yavlinskys visit to the Kremlin that the
two liberal factions started exchanging accusations,
and as a result failed to agree on a joint resolution.
At the same time, in all fairness, it is worth noting
that the two drafts did differ on some issues.
Yabloko suggested that the crisis be analyzed as a
whole and called not just for an investigation into
the liberation of the hostages, but into the security
situation in Moscow, in Chechnya and throughout
the country in general.
Yablokos draft contained a very important
provision that had skipped the deputies attention
amid the scandals; a call to amend the constitution
and to establish a legal mechanism for
Indeed, no Duma initiative will ever bring any
results unless Duma inquiries get legal status. The
first to raise the subject was the former FSB chief,
deputy Nikolai Kovalyov. ''Parliamentary
investigations are not provided for in our
Constitution. The deputies can only talk, debate
and nothing more.''
As for the Rightists, their resolution called for those
responsible for the deaths to be identified. To that
end they had already set up their own public
commission and invited doctors to take part in its
session. A week ago the inquirys results were
forwarded to the Kremlin.
''The results of the commissions work are already
on the presidents desk, Boris Nadezhdin told the
press last week adding that if the Kremlin ignores
the commissions conclusions, they will go public
Judging by the SPSs silence, the Kremlin has taken
its conclusions into consideration, while Yablokos
proposal to legalize parliamentary inquiries is, most
likely, doomed to fail.
The result of the squabble, initiated by the liberals,
is pitiful the public will never know exactly who
many hostages died in the Nord-Ost raid, who and
how organized the rescue operation, and whether
anyone will ever be held liable for the tragedy. The
pro-Kremlin deputies, as it transpired on
Wednesday, are not interested in the answers at
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Part of a search, I found #2 very interesting.
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This did not all print, there are 2 different people who say that they were told all were safe.
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You are here: BBC > Science & Nature > TV & Radio Follow-up >
BBC Two, Thursday 15 January 2004,
The Moscow Theatre Siege - transcript
NARRATOR (JACK FORTUNE): A year ago in Moscow terrorists took a
thousand people hostage and threatened to kill them. The Russians
problem was how to get them out, alive.
ROBIN HORSFALL: A traditional type of assault under this
circumstance was highly unlikely to be successful. The Russians
needed another option and fortunately they had one.
NARRATOR: When special forces stormed the building they used a
secret weapon never tried before. A mysterious knockout gas put over
a thousand people to sleep. A hundred and seventy never woke up.
The Russian authorities claimed the gas was not lethal but they
refused to say what it was.
SVETLANA GUBAREVA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): If this stuff is so
harmless then why is the formulae a state secret.
NARRATOR: So why did so many people die? And what was the
mystery gas? Tonight Horizon investigates the tragedy of the Moscow
NARRATOR: On October 23rd 2002 on the outskirts of Moscow a
thousand people were enjoying a night out at the theatre. Nord Ost
was a romantic musical set during the second world war. In the stalls
was Svetlana Gubareva her thirteen year old daughter Alexandra and
her American fiancé Sandy. The family were there to celebrate, theyd
just been given permission to emigrate to America.
SVETLANA GUBAREVA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): Everything was
working out very well and we were in high spirits. We set off for a
stroll around town, did lunch, and when we got back to the Metro
station we bought the theatre tickets, we wanted to carry on the
NARRATOR: Just after the interval the plot took an unexpected twist.
It was caught on the theatres video. A shot rang out. Masked figures
spread through the theatre.
SVETLANA GUBAREVA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): My first thought was
how well the director had worked such a clever stunt in to the play. I
couldnt believe it was true for a long time.
NARRATOR: But it wasnt part of the play. Forty heavily armed men
and women had taken over the theatre. The women had explosives
strapped to their bodies. They had also brought two massive bombs
which they forced their hostages to help them place among the seats.
IVAN OGANESYAN (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): The bomb was very
heavy, very heavy indeed. And when we put it in the middle of the
balcony right by the parapet two men and a woman began arming it.
Very slowly and very carefully.
NARRATOR: The terrorists were from Chechnya, a Russian province
fighting for independence. The groups leader Movsar Barayev had a
NARRATOR: Unless Russia withdrew its troops from Chechnya they
would start to kill the hostages. They themselves were not afraid to
OLEG ZYUGANOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): They threatened to shoot
anyone who got up from their seat and if government didnt give in to
their demands then they promised to blow up the whole building.
NARRATOR: One of those now under Barias control was child actress
Kristina Kyrbatov. Her parents were on their way to collect her when
they heard the news.
NATASHA KYRBATOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): Kristina had called
her sister and said tell mummy and daddy that weve been taken
hostage. I can't talk any more, I love you all. That was it, that was the
last we heard for three days.
NARRATOR: It was the start of a week which would shock Russia
profoundly. In the days that followed the families of a thousand
hostages watched in horror, and the rest of the world was transfixed
as crisis turned to tragedy. Outside the Russian army quickly
surrounded the theatre and a stand off began.
Prof PAUL WILKINSON (Centre for the Study of Terrorism): President
Putin and his security advisors regarded this as an extremely er
desperate situation, the worst hostage situation theyd ever faced and
indeed the worst that has been faced by any er democratic country.
NARRATOR: The conflict in Chechnya had been notoriously brutal.
There was barbarity on both sides. Now the Chechens have brought
the fight to the heart of Russia. Just miles from the Kremlin itself.
Compromise seemed highly unlikely. So the Russians had to work out
how to free the hostages without the Chechens blowing up the
theatre. The scale of the challenge faced by Russian military planners
is well known to Robin Horsfall. He was in the SAS team which
stormed the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980.
ROBIN HORSFALL (SAS, 1978-1984): The traditional approach is to
mount an assault through multiple entry points simultaneously, using
speed, aggression and surprise. The problem with this is they couldnt
get the surprise factor in to it.
NARRATOR: The Russian troops would have to fight their way along a
hundred feet of corridors before they could reach the hall. They would
also have to attack up a well defended staircase.
ROBIN HORSFALL : So you're not going to get a quick and successful
NARRATOR: The whole operation would take precious minutes and
give the Chechens ample time to set off their explosives.
ROBIN HORSFALL: The largest explosive devise was based in the
centre of the auditorium, right in the centre of all the hostages. If this
explosive device had gone off the whole of the ceiling would have
come down on to the hostages inside and could have caused in excess
of eighty percent casualties and it would end in complete and
NARRATOR: A traditional assault was highly unlikely to succeed. The
Russians would have to come up with something new. Inside the
theatre it soon became clear how ruthless the Chechens could be. At
three thirty a.m. six hours in to the siege a young woman wandered in
to the hall from the street. She started shouting at the terrorists.
SVETLANA GUBAREVA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): They pushed her
through the side doors. And there were two short bursts of gunfire.
And then there was dead silence. At that moment we realised this was
NARRATOR: the Chechens had proved they were ready to kill. The
Russian position was desperate. So they decided to do something
never tried before. They would use a secret weapon, gas. For half a
century hostage rescue teams around the world have searched for a
gas that would knock people out without killing. It could save
thousands of lives.
Dr BERNARD RILEY (Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham): If you look
at the frequency at which hostages are taking er on a worldwide basis
you can understand that, that the goal is immeasurable, its a
priceless commodity if you could actually have something that could
do, do this.
NARRATOR: Over the years many drugs have been investigated but
nobody had found one that worked. The problem was how to put the
terrorists to sleep without killing any hostages.
Dr MARK WHEELIS (University of California at Davis): Narcing
somebody out is a substantial um, er pharmacological effect and what
were trying, what were asking this agent to do is substantially affect
somebodys er, er central nervous system and yet not cause any
lethality, thats a tall order.
NARRATOR: For the west the perfect knockout gas remained allusive.
But it seems the Russians thought they had found the answer. By the
small hours of Saturday morning, three days in to the siege, they were
ready to put it to the test. At five thirty a.m. while most of the
hostages slept the operation began.
IVAN OGANESYAN (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): I woke up suddenly, I
heard a distinctive hissing sound, just like when you turn on a gas
NARRATOR: The Chechens also realised something was happening,
OLEG ZYUGANOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): The last thing I
remember before I passed out was two Chechens on the stage
shouting something up to the balcony, then they ran out of the hall.
NARRATOR: The men ran to the outer corridors where they broke
windows and started to fire wildly out at the Russians. But the
Chechen women who could blow up the theatre at any moment were
still in the hall with the hostages. So the Russians did not attack, they
waited for the gas to work.
IVAN OGANESYAN (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): There was sort of a
dulling of the senses, weakness, indifference. I couldnt smell
anything and my hearing was very faint. Everything was sort of cut
off. I really wanted to go to sleep.
NARRATOR: Twenty minutes passed, still they waited. Then a hostage
walked out, apparently unaffected. It was proof the gas had not yet
knocked everybody out. So the Russians kept waiting. Finally at six
twenty five, a whole hour after the gas was first pumped in, the
special forces attacked. When they got to the auditorium they shot the
unconscious Chechen women point blank. They couldnt risk them
waking and detonating the bombs.
OLEG ZYUGANOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): I could hear shooting
and there was shouting in Chechen and Russian.
NARRATOR: Then in a storeroom upstairs they caught up with the
Chechen leader Movsar Barayev.
OLEG ZYUGANOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): Something fell on my
back, I think it was a shell casing, then everything went quiet. All I
could hear was Russian. Then I realised that it was all over.
NARRATOR: Not a single soldier had been injured, no hostages had
been caught in the cross fire. In a building nearby anxious relatives
were told the good news.
NATASHA KYRBATOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): They came and told
us it had been successful and all the children were alive, they
definitely told us that. We were so happy, kissing and hugging each
other, jumping and shouting for joy.
NARRATOR: It looked as if the operation and its use of the mysterious
gas had been a stunning success. Later that morning hundreds of
relatives thronged to hospitals anxious to find their loved ones. Among
them were Vladimir and Natasha Kyrbatov. They had been told a girl
matching their daughters description was at hospital number thirteen.
VLADIMIR KYRBATOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): When we described
her again, what she was wearing and so on they calmly said yes we
have a girl like that here, but she is in the morgue. She was
underneath a blanket and we could only see her trainers. We identified
her, signed the form and that was it.
NARRATOR: Svetlana Gubareva woke up in hospital no knowing where
her family was.
SVETLANA GUBAREVA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): I was sitting on my
bed and heard them listing names on the radio. I heard my own name
and started listening more carefully. Then I heard the phrase, sadly
there have been fatalities among the hostages. Yesterday Alexander
Gubareva died in hospital.
NARRATOR: Not only had Svetlana lost her daughter, her American
fiancée Sandy had also died. As the day wore on the death toll rose
relentlessly. Russias stunning victory had turned to tragedy. For grief
stricken relatives it was incomprehensible. A hundred and twenty nine
hostages had died. Their loved ones demanded to know why. Despite
the death toll the authorities claimed the operation had been a great
success. And they had a surprising explanation for the tragedy. They
said it had nothing to do with the mysterious gas. Officials claimed the
one hundred and twenty nine hostages died because they already had
life threatening diseases.
VICTOR PREOBRAJENSKIJ (Russian Centre for Disaster Medicine): In
most cases there were serious illnesses like bronchial asthma or heart
disease, in a number of cases there were heart attacks caused by
circulatory disease. Combined with exhaustion and stress over three
days this in itself could have very serious consequences.
NARRATOR: But nobody believed it. Least of all like Vladimir Natasha
who had lost lively young children.
NATASHA KYRBATOV (ENGLISH TRANSLATION): The fact that Kristina
had supposedly gone without food people are trying to tell me it was
because of this but of course I dont believe that, its rubbish. The only
reason that I can accept is that she was poisoned by the gas.
NARRATOR: The outrage of the victims families was matched by
news reports around the world. Some claimed nerve gas had been
used, that would have broken international law. Four days after the
theatre was stormed the authorities tried to put a stop to the
YURY SHEVCHENKO (Russian Health Minister): To neutralise the
terrorists we used a substance based on derivatives of fentanyl. Such
substances are medical drugs which can produce a very quick
anaesthetic effect. They are widely used in medicine and on their own
are not lethal.
NARRATOR: Fentanyl, far from being a nerve gas or even a weapon its
a common pain killer, a man made opiod like morphine, only stronger.
Anaesthetists like Bernard Riley use fentanyl every day. A small dose
of fentanyl gives pain relief.
Dr BERNARD RILEY: What Im going to do is give you this powerful
painkiller thats going in.
NARRATOR: A larger dose will make you unconscious.
Dr BERNARD RILEY: You might feel as if youve had a couple of pints
of cider by now, as that stuffs circulated around your body. Are you
NARRATOR: But there is one drawback, fentanyl can stop you
Dr BERNARD RILEY: Because of the effects of the fentanyl you can see
hes not breathing at all. So until he starts to breath spontaneously on
his own I just have to keep on squeezing the bag.
NARRATOR: Although Fentanyl can stop you breathing there is an
antidote called naloxone which reverses the effects. Because of this it
might have seemed sensible for the Russians to try fentanyl.
Dr BERNARD RILEY: Its very stable in terms of its effect on the heart,
it can be delivered as a vapour and most importantly of all its got a
very effective antidote. So putting all of that together it might seem
reasonable to use it.
NARRATOR: The idea that fentanyl might have been used was
supported by events on the day of the assault. As these pictures show
the special forces brought supplies of naloxone. And it seemed to
work. So why did so many people die? One possible answer may lie in
the rescue operation itself. Once the troops had secured the theatre
doctors from the Moscow rescue service rushed to help. But nobody
had told them in advance about the gas.
ALEXANDER SHABALOV (Moscow Rescue Services): Nobody warned us
that they had used special gas. The only thing we heard was on the
government radio channel. We were just told that we should take our
medical kits to give first aid to the victims.
NARRATOR: Because they hadnt been warned the rescue workers
hadnt brought enough naloxone, neither had the special forces. Just
seventeen doctors were confronted by a thousand unconscious
casualties. They were forced to call in troops to help evacuate them.
The soldiers inexperienced in first aid dragged people out and laid
them on their backs where they could easily choke. Within minutes
the medics were completely overwhelmed.
ALEXANDER SHABALOV: People were just dumped in a heap. It was
impossible to tell who had injections and who hadnt. Some may have
had two, others none at all.
NARRATOR: So was the botched medical response the cause of the
disaster. It appeared to explain everything. And it seemed to let
fentanyl off the hook. But there was just one problem, scientists
around the world were beginning to doubt if the Russians had used
fentanyl at all. It was all a question of quantity. The volume of the hall
was thirteen thousand, five hundred cubic metres, and there were
over a thousand people inside. To knock everybody out would take a
huge amount of fentanyl. In California one scientist had worked out
just how much.
Dr MARK WHEELIS: If you want to figure out how much fentanyl it
would have taken in Moscow we have to make some assumptions.
First we have to estimate the dosage needed per kilogramme of
bodyweight in the aerosol form. And we have to know how much an
average er person in the theatre weighed. And we have to know what
their respiratory rate was, how much they were, how much air they
were breathing in in a given time. And finally we have to know the
total volume of the air space in the theatre. If we put all that together,
do the math, we come out with a number, we can estimate that it
would take nineteen and a half kilogrammes of fentanyl, nearly fifty
pounds of fentanyl, way too much to be practical to get in to the air
volume and the theatre in the small amount of time that was
available. I don't think fentanyl could have been the agent used.
NARRATOR: Mark Wheeliss view is supported by evidence from the
theatre. Most of the hostages say they were knocked out within
minutes of the gas first appearing. To pump in fifty pounds of fentanyl
would have taken much longer. This suggests the Russians used a
drug far stronger than fentanyl, but what? Because fentanyl is man
made it can easily be manipulated by scientists. Theyve developed
dozens of so called derivatives or variations of the drug. Some even
stronger than the original. So perhaps the Russians had used one of
these. In Salt Lake City thats the view of one scientist who ought to
know. Ted Stanley is a renowned anesthesiologist. He has also done
work to develop a knockout gas. The work was commissioned by the
Prof TED STANLEY(University of Utah): The US er government agencies
er came and asked us if we would study er some of these drugs in
animals as a precursor to possibly using these compounds to
immobilise human beings.
NARRATOR: In the mid nineteen nineties Professor Stanley conducted
a series of experiments using the most powerful derivatives of
fentanyl. One was sufentanyl. Sufentanyl is basically the fentanyl
molecule with an extra element, sulphur. This makes it ten times
stronger. But Dr Stanley argues that even this was probably not
strong enough for what the Russians needed to do.
Prof TED STANLEY: I think that sufentanyl was a possible substance
that was used but the victims had an affect that lasted too long and
sufentanyl would have been shorter. And I think that a stronger
substance was probably used.
NARRATOR: There is another derivative which is even stronger. Its
made by taking the basic fentanyl molecule and adding carbon to
Prof TED STANLEY: Carfentanyl is ten times stronger than sufentanyl,
a hundred times stronger than fentanyl and ten thousand times
stronger than morphine.
NARRATOR: the Russians would have needed just six hundred and
fifty grams of carfentanyl to knock out everybody in the Moscow
theatre. Thats just half the amount of sufentanyl they would have
needed and a thirtieth of the fentanyl. Thats why Professor Stanley
believes carfentanyl is the most likely candidate for the mystery gas.
But theres just one problem with carfentanyl its not meant to be
used on humans. Carfentanyl is so strong it can knock out the worlds
most powerful animals. This bison is being tranquilised so the vets can
treat it for parasites. It weighs almost a tonne and will be completely
sedated by just four and a half milligrammes.
Dr TERRY KREEGER (Wyoming Game and Fish Department): If a
human received the dosage that we prepared for the bison that person
would show all the classical signs of a narcotic or an opiod overdose.
That is thered be behavioural changes, the person would be dizzy, he
or she may vomit, er they would pass out and as they got deeper and
deeper in to, to anaesthesia if you will er respiration would probably
stop. They would stop breathing, and if at that point there wasnt
medical intervention the person probably would die from this drug.
NARRATOR: Used correctly carfentanyl is perfectly safe, but in the
Moscow theatre anything this powerful would have been extremely
risky. Carfentanyl is so potent that a safe dose for each person would
need to be infinitesimal, getting it right would be critical.
Dr BERNARD RILEY: The danger of using a very potent substance like
carfentanyl is because the dosage to achieve the effect you want is so
small that a small mistake, a small margin of error becomes extremely
NARRATOR: What would make it even more dangerous is that some
people would need far less of the drug to knock them out than others.
It depends on factors like age and weight, and the strong fit Chechens
were likely to be among the most resistant.
Dr MARK WHEELIS: You have to use a dose of anaesthetic that is
sufficient to with confidence knock out the, the young health hostage
takers er thats going to drive you to use a dose, dose that is
potentially quite dangerous to the, to at least some of the people
That should be engraved on a monument somewhere.
You know, if this topic is too hot for regular forums, and has to be placed in the 'smokey backroom', perhaps it would be better to delete the whole thing.
Perhaps one of the Mods will oblige if svni asks.