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Russia: Hostage-Crisis Victims Demand Compensation

Moscow, 3 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A Moscow court today opened hearings on complaints from former hostages and victims' families in connection with the seizing of a Moscow theater by Chechen separatists in October. Eight plaintiffs are demanding compensation ranging from $500,000 to $1 million.

Lawyer Igor Trunov said the cases are based on Russia's new antiterrorism law, which stipulates that the Russian region where a terrorist attack takes place should compensate for psychological and material harm suffered by the victims.

The 23-26 October seizure of the theater ended with at least 170 casualties, including 41 hostage takers. Nearly all of the victims died from the effects of a narcotic gas used by Russian forces to knock out the separatists.