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Corruption Watch: January 15, 2004

15 January 2004, Volume 4, Number 2
For Parts 1 and 2 of this three-part article, see "RFE/RL Organized Crime and Terrorism Watch" of 18 December 2003 and 8 January 2004.
By John B. Dunlop

Negotiations Leading Nowhere

The failure of three of the four bombs to detonate confronted both the terrorists and the Russian authorities with an exceedingly slippery situation. How was the crisis to be resolved? Abubakar reluctantly consented to conducting a series of negotiations with various Duma deputies, journalists, and at least one doctor, while the Russian power ministries for their part set about practicing a raid on the theater building. Duma deputies who, at great personal risk, visited the building in order to negotiate with the terrorists were: Yabloko faction leader Grigorii Yavlinskii; Aslambek Aslakhanov, the parliamentary deputy representing Chechnya; Irina Khadamada; Iosif Kobzon; and Vyacheslav Igrunov. (Another Duma faction leader, Boris Nemtsov of the Union of Rightist Forces, negotiated with the terrorists by telephone.) Also visiting the building were former Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov and the former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev. A key role was, as we have seen, played in the negotiations by journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Doctor Leonid Roshal, who treated the hostages, and Sergei Govorukhin, the son of a famous Russian filmmaker and himself a Chechen war veteran, also attempted to facilitate the negotiations.(92)

Yavlinskii's experience with the negotiations has been summarized thus: "The hostage takers were said to have asked specifically for Yavlinskii.... He said he met with the hostage takers for an hour and a half on the night of 24 October. They said they wanted an end to the war in Chechnya and the withdrawal of federal troops, but Yavlinskii said when he tried to get them to formulate their demands, they were unable to come up with any kind of a coherent negotiating position. 'Let's go step by step. You want a cease-fire, OK, let's go for a cease-fire,' Yavlinskii said he told the hostage takers. 'Tell me which regions to pull troops out of. Tell me something I can use.'"(93)

"I insisted," Nemtsov confided to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," "that we had maximally to move the negotiation process forward with a single goal -- to free the children and women. And my logic -- about which both Patrushev and Voloshin knew -- and I stated it also to Abubakar, the politruk [political officer] of the terrorists responsible for the negotiations, was the following: for each peaceful day in Chechnya they would release hostages. One peaceful day -- the children; another one -- the women, and so on. The rebels liked that idea. And the day before yesterday was indeed a peaceful day. But when I reminded Abubakar about our agreements, he sent me to the devil and said that one should talk with either Basaev or Maskhadov."(94)

"There are five requests," Politkovskaya has recalled, "on my list. Food for the hostages, personal hygiene for the women, water and blankets. Jumping ahead a little, we will only manage to agree on water and juice.... I begin to ask what they want, but, in political terms, Bakar isn't on firm ground. He's 'just a soldier' and nothing more. He explains what it all means to him, at length and precisely, and four points can be identified from what he says. First, [President Vladimir] Putin should 'give the word' and declare the end of the war. Secondly, in the course of a day, he should demonstrate that his words aren't empty by, for example, taking the armed forces out of one region.... Then I ask, 'Whom do you trust? Whose word on the withdrawal of the armed forces would you believe?' It turns out that it's (Council of Europe rapporteur) Lord Judd. And we return to their third point. It's very simple -- if the first two points are met, the hostages will be released. And as for the extremists themselves? 'We'll stay to fight. We'll die in battle.'"(95)

While letting volunteer negotiators such as Politkovskaya buy some time, the regime limited itself to delivering only a few public messages to the terrorists. On 25 October, the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Nikolai Patrushev, "declared that the terrorists would be guaranteed their lives if the hostages...were released. He made this declaration after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin." Also on 25 October, at 8:30 in the evening, "the chair of the Federation Council, Sergei Mironov, addressed the hostages and terrorists on direct open air on a radio program of Ekho Moskvy. Addressing the terrorists, he [Mironov] declared: 'Advance your real conditions, free our people, and you will be ensured safety and security to leave the boundaries of Russia. You have de facto already achieved your goal of attracting attention. The entire world is talking about it.'"(96) Presented one day before the launching of the storm, these statements appear to have been another attempt to buy time.

Late in the evening of that same day, 25 October, the regime offered to begin serious negotiations on the following day (26 October), with retired General Viktor Kazantsev, Putin's official representative in the Southern Federal District, meeting with the hostage takers. This gesture came at a time when preparations for the storm were moving ahead full tilt. The rebels, for their part, reacted positively to this development, "announcing to the hostages that they had 'good news.'... Tomorrow [Saturday, 26 October] at 10:00 a.m., Kazantsev will come. Everything will be normal. They have come to an agreement. This suits us. Behave peacefully. We are not beasts. We will not kill you if you sit quietly and peacefully.'"(97) Political and security affairs correspondent Pavel Felgenhauer has reported that Kazantsev made no preparations to actually fly from southern Russia to Moscow.(98)

According to Duma faction leader Yavlinskii, he came to understand "by 5 p.m. on 25 October" that Putin had adopted an irrevocable decision to storm the building.(99) The website has reported that, "The first information that a decision concerning a storm had been taken and that it had been set for the morning of 26 October was gained by journalists working in the area of the theater center at about 11:00 p.m. on 25 October."(100) Felgenhauer observed over Ekho Moskvy radio on 26 October: "Our forces...stormed the 'Nord-Ost' building after two days of preparations, without even so much as a prior attempt to negotiate with the captors in any meaningful way to secure a peaceful solution to the affair.... This week, first there was reconnaissance. By every conceivable means of electronic and acoustic surveillance, the terrorists' exchanges and movements were monitored. On Friday [25 October], the plans were reported to Vladimir Putin, who gave the go-ahead for the operation to start on Saturday."(101)

A member of the special forces units which took the building provided support for Felgenhauer's interpretation in remarks made to "We put bugs everywhere, even in the concert hall. We accompanied every negotiator; in the beginning we did it openly, but then the Chechens became indignant.... When the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, made the agreement with them to deliver water, food, and medicine, headquarters had already prepared everything.... Everybody knew about the storm. Only nobody knew when it would happen."(102)

It was the special forces and not the terrorists who appear to have precipitated the final denouement. "At 5:20 a.m. [on 26 October]," journalist Valerii Yakov has written, "the operation suffered its first setback. The terrorists noticed in the building a movement of a group of 'Alfa' [special forces] and opened fire. They were instantly destroyed, but it was necessary immediately to correct the plan [of attack].... At this time, a representative of the FSB, Pavel Kudryavtsev, came out to the journalists and reported that the terrorists had shot two men and that another man and a woman had been wounded. Later it emerged that this information was false."(103) The above-cited correspondent Felgenhauer has, for his part, commented: "There are no serious grounds for these heroic fairy tales [about an execution of the hostages by the terrorists] to be believed. Long before the building was stormed, it had become obvious in many ways that everything would be decided precisely on Saturday morning."(104) The producer of the Nord-Ost musical, Georgii Vasilev, who was the de facto leader and chief spokesman for the hostages, declared: "I have heard that they began the storm supposedly because they [the terrorists] began to execute the hostages. That is the official point of view of the authorities. I want to say that there were no executions -- only threats."(105)

As is well known, a decision was taken by the Russian authorities to employ a powerful gas in the retaking of the building. As one military affairs specialist, Viktor Baranets, has reported, "The idea of using gas during the operation to liberate the hostages was in the heads of many members of the operational headquarters already during the second day of the emergency situation when it became clear that they would hardly come to agreement with the terrorists.... It was decided to use the most powerful poison [available] -- a psycho-chemical gas (PChG). According to some sources, it has the name 'Kolokol [i.e., Bell]-1.'"(106) What was in this gas? "We are never going to know exactly what chemical it was," Lev Fedorov, an environmental activist who is the head of the Russian Union for Chemical Safety, has aptly commented, "because in this country the state is more important than the people."(107)

According to the website, the special forces began pumping gas into the hall through the ventilation system at 4:30 a.m., "a half an hour before the storm."(108) Other sources contend, however, that it may have been significantly earlier, perhaps shortly after 1:00 a.m.(109) One possibility is that a decision was taken to strengthen the dosage of the gas after the initial infusion did not seem to be having the desired effect. The chief anesthesiologist of Moscow, Yevgenii Evdokimov, has speculated: "The death of those people was possibly caused by an overdose of the substance [in the gas]."(110) The website wrote on 28 October: "It has become known to 'Gazeta' that the first attempt to neutralize the bandits located among the hostages did not succeed -- the concentration of the poisonous substance turned out to be insufficient."(111)

According to an October 2003 statement by the press department of the Moscow City Prosecutor's Office, 125 hostages died from the effects of the gas, some of them following the storm while they were in hospital, while five were killed by the terrorists.(112) The actual death toll from the effects of the gas might, according to some estimates, have in fact exceeded 200.(113) In addition, scores of other hostages were reported at the time to be seriously ill from the effects of the gas.(114) In April 2003, a lawyer representing some of the former hostages asserted that approximately 40 more of the hostages had died since 26 October 2002.(115) In October 2003, the newspaper "Versiya," summing up the results of an investigation conducted by its journalists, stipulated that "about 300" of the former hostages were now dead.(116) The incompetence and the disorganization of the medical and emergency teams called in to treat the ill and the dying were unquestionably a cause of many of the deaths. The medical teams, in their defense, had not been informed about what was in the gas. When the Russian State Duma declined to carry out an inquiry into the actions of the medical teams, the Union of Rightist Forces conducted its own investigation and then published its scathing findings.(117)

At 8:00 a.m. on 26 October, one hour after the building had been declared liberated, Russian state television (RTR) showed the following mendacious tableau: "The gang leader [Movsar Baraev] met his death with a bottle of brandy in his hand. According to special-purpose-unit men, they found an enormous number of used syringes and empty alcohol bottles on the premises. The criminals, who described themselves as champions of Islam and freedom fighters, must have spent the last hours in the theater bar. Even the women, officers say, smelt strongly of alcohol. Probably because of that,... [the women terrorists] did not have time to set in motion the explosive devices attached to their waists. According to specialists, each device contains at least 800 grams of TNT. Besides, in order to increase the impact, the devices were filled with ball bearings and nails. Another explosive device was planted in the center of the hall, which, to all appearances, was intended to make the ceiling collapse. And there is a whole arsenal on the stage: assault rifles, TNT, cartridges. And the most interesting are these homemade grenades. Despite their small size, they are extremely powerful."(118) (By this time, if not earlier, the Russian authorities must have become fully aware that the explosives placed in the hall had been incapable of detonating.)

On 27 October, President Putin invited the special forces commandos from the "Alfa" and "Vympel" units who had taken back the theater to a special reception at the Kremlin. In his remarks, Putin praised the professionalism of the two units of the FSB, and he then joined with them in a silent standing toast.(119) In early January 2003, shortly after New Year's Eve, "Putin signed a secret decree to award six people with Hero of Russia stars, including three FSB officials and two soldiers from the special units 'Alfa' and 'Vympel.' The fifth 'hero' is the chemist who gassed the theater center."(120)

Following the storming of the theater building, the president's approval ratings for his conduct of the war in Chechnya shot up in the polls: "If in September, 34 percent of Russian citizens had been in favor of continuing military actions, while 56 percent had favored peace negotiations, at the end of October -- for the first time since the beginning of 2001 -- the opinions divided almost half and half: 46 percent were for military actions, while 45 percent were for negotiations."(121)

From the testimony of former hostages interviewed by the Russian media, it seems virtually certain that the terrorists did have ample time to destroy many of the hostages before they themselves had been overcome by the gas or shot by the attacking special forces. Why did they not do so? As we have seen, most of the explosives in the building were "fakes" or very weak bombs presenting a danger principally to the women terrorists wearing them. Even without detonating the bombs, however, the terrorists carried real automatic weapons and could easily have raked the hostages with automatic-weapon fire. They clearly chose, however, to let the hostages live. Even an Interior Ministry general who had been identified by the terrorists and had been separated from the other hostages was not killed (though his daughter died from the effects of the gas).(122) Theater producer Vasilev has recalled: "When the shooting began, they [the terrorists] told us to lean forward in the theater seats and cover our heads behind the seats."(123)

How many of the terrorists were killed in the raid? In June 2003, Moscow City Prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov stipulated that a total of 40 terrorists had been killed and that none had managed to escape.(124) The same figure was given by Avdyukov's successors in October 2003.(125) At 9:44 a.m. on 26 October 2002, however -- that is, almost three hours after the building had been declared liberated -- it was reported by Interfax that only 32 terrorists had been killed. The same day, the director of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, affirmed that "34 gunmen were killed and an unspecified number arrested."(126) By contrast, on 28 October,, a "centrist" publication, reported that "50 terrorists -- 32 men and 18 women" had been killed and "three others taken into custody."(127) The compromise figure of 40 dead terrorists was arrived at later.

A number of questions have been asked by analysts and journalists about whether or not the de facto leader of the terrorists, Abubakar, had in fact been killed. In June 2003, Moscow Prosecutor Avdyukov insisted that Ruslan Abu-Khasanovich Elmurzaev's body had been found and identified.(128) In March 2003, however, retired FSB Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Trepashkin had written that, following the events at Dubrovka, "I proposed to the investigators that they try to identify 'Abubakar' in the first days after the event. However, later an investigator telephoned and said that he could not find the corpses of a number of people, including that of 'Abubakar,' and therefore there would be no identification."(129) And journalist Aleksandr Khinshtein has reported: "At first there existed a version that Abubakar died during the storming of the House of Culture.... But a series of examinations showed that there was no Abubakar in the hall."(130) Despite Prosecutor Avdyukov's statement, it appears thus to be an open question as to whether or not Abubakar was killed.

In October 2003, film director Sergei Govoroukhin, one of the volunteer negotiators who had spoken at length with Abubakar at Dubrovka, stated his belief that Abubakar was still alive. Despite his persistent requests, he said, Russian prosecutors had proved unable to show him Abubakar's body. "Moreover," Govorukhin continued, "two weeks ago, during a trip to Chechnya, I asked intelligence [officers] of the Combined Group of Forces of the Northern Caucasus whether it was true that Abubakar was in Chechnya. I was uniformly given the same answer: 'Of course he is here. He has shown himself rather actively in recent times, and only for the past month has nothing been heard of him.' Therefore I can maintain absolutely accurately that he is alive."(131)

Similarly, also in October 2003, an investigative report appearing in the newspaper "Kommersant" noted that "until the summer of this year [2003], when the case concerning the explosion at McDonald's restaurant was being investigated by the procuracy of the western district [okrug] of Moscow, Ruslan Elmurzaev was still on the wanted list. He was removed from the wanted list only when the case was taken over by the Moscow [City] Prosecutor's Office."(132) The same report also added this key detail: "As sources in the FSB and [Interior Ministry] have made clear, the terrorists themselves ordered that the bombs [in the Dubrovka theater] be rendered harmless before the seizing of the hostages. Abubakar was supposedly afraid of accidental explosions."(133)

Aftermath Of The Hostage-Taking Incident
On the evening of 6 February 2003, a sensation of sorts was created when "the head of the operational-investigative department of the MUR [Moscow Criminal Investigations Office], Yevgenii Taratorin, made an unexpected announcement on the television program 'Man and the Law.'" In Taratorin's words, "In October-November of last year, in addition to seizing the theater center at Dubrovka, the band of Movsar Baraev planned explosions in the Moscow underground, at a popular restaurant, and at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. In the words of the policeman, the operatives of the capital's criminal-investigation unit were able to avert all of these terrorist acts." Following the explosion of the "Tavriya" car bomb at McDonald's restaurant on Porkryshkin Street in Moscow on 19 October, Taratorin related, the MUR discovered "in the center of Moscow at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in direct proximity to the GAI [traffic police] post an automobile of silver color containing explosives." Quick action by the MUR and the arrest of certain of the terrorists, Taratorin claimed, forced the hostage takers to move up the date of their assault on the theater at Dubrovka from 7 November to 23 October.

According to Taratorin, "on 24 October, the operatives averted two other terrorist acts: the explosion of an automobile at the Pyramid [Restaurant] in Pushkin Square and the self-detonation of a female suicide bomber at one of the stations of the capital's underground." The terrorists, sensing the danger of a rapid unmasking, then fled to the North Caucasus region. (Taratorin appears here to be exaggerating the achievements of the MUR: the bombings failed to occur, as we have seen, most likely either because the terrorists "exhibited cowardice" or because the bombs themselves were faulty in design or construction.)

In the course of his televised statement, Taratorin added that, in November 2002, in the village of Chernoe in Moscow Oblast, the police had "discovered a house in which, among apples, there was found ammunition and, next to the cottage, a hiding place in which explosives brought from Ingushetia had first been concealed."(134) (The explosives, he said, had later been transferred to two garages located on Leninskii Prospekt and Ogorodnyi Proezd in Moscow.) In January 2003, Taratorin added, two of the intended car bombs had been found in a parking lot off Zvenigorod Highway.

Most sensationally of all, Taratorin claimed that "five people" in all had been arrested for participating in the terrorist act. Queried about this statement, the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office insisted heatedly that only two persons had so far been arrested, one of them the walk-on Chechen volunteer Zaurbek Talikhigov. Journalists soon discovered, however, that "three more Chechens whom they had connected to Dubrovka had been released last November [2002]."(135)

Following this televised statement by the MUR colonel, "the procuracy opened against Yevgenii Taratorin a [criminal] case for his having revealed a secret of the investigation. But this did not stop the colonel -- in particular, he intended to meet with order to relate to them the details of the investigation in the course of which the MUR officers did not succeed in finding understanding on the part of the 'neighbors' from the FSB."(136) Taratorin was placed under arrest by the FSB on 23 June 2003, as part of a putative "campaign against werewolves" in the Russian Interior Ministry.(137) This lengthy campaign and media reactions to it strongly suggested that the arrest of Taratorin, like that of Trepashkin, was a selective one triggered solely by the need to silence an official who had begun to expose the fabric of lies that constituted the official version of events.

Taratorin's revelations were embarrassing to the FSB and the Prosecutor-General's Office because they drew attention to the fact that two major suspects who had been seized by police at Chernoe on 22 November 2002 had been released: a recently retired GRU major, Arman Menkeev; and a Chechen originally from Vedeno, Khampash Sobraliev, the man who had collected the suicide belts from the women terrorists on 24 October after they had apparently failed to work. "For a long time," however, "Kh. SobrAliyev was not charged under Article 205 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (terrorism). This led to his refusal to cooperate with the investigators."(138) In an article appearing in April 2003, journalist Zinaida Lobanova noted that Khampash Sobraliev, Arman Menkeev, and Alikhan Mezhiev "were not charged and were then set free."(139) Only Akhyad Mezhiev, Alikhan's brother, who had been arrested on 28 October 2002, was still being kept in custody.

When the police raided the terrorist base at Chernoe in November 2002, another of the terrorists, Aslambek Khaskhanov, reportedly managed to escape from the premises. In late April 2003, however, Khaskhanov was located and then arrested in Ingushetia. "The Chechen had made his way [from Moscow] to Grozny and concealed himself for almost half a year. At the end of April [2003], he was taken into custody and brought to Moscow. During interrogations he related that in one of the homes on Nosovikhinskii Highway [in Chernoe] were concealed plastic explosives. The operatives arrived with dogs trained to sniff out explosives at House No. 100."(140) Under interrogation, Khaskhanov reportedly told the police about a huge cache of explosives hidden near the house: 400 kilograms of plastic explosives in total. "'Four hundred kilos of plastic explosives,' whistled one expert. 'That is enough to blow the Kremlin and Red Square to the devil."(141)

In an interview appearing in the government newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" in June 2003, then Moscow City Prosecutor Avdyukov reported that, in addition to Khaskhanov, "Aslan Murdalov, the brothers Alikhan and Akhyad Mezhiev, Khampash Sobraliev, and Arman Menkeev are all now under arrest."(142)

Once Avdyukov and other Moscow prosecutors had been purged from their posts, a "cleansed" Moscow Prosecutor's Office began to surface a new and radically altered version of events. The press office of the procuracy informed "Kommersant" on 22 October 2003 that five individuals -- Aslambek Khaskhanov, Aslan Murdalov, the brothers Alikhan and Akhyad Mezhiev, and Khampash SobrAliyev -- were now being charged with "belonging to a group which as far back as 2001 had been sent by Shamil Basaev to commit terrorist acts in Moscow."(143) Significantly, retired GRU Major Menkeev was no longer being charged by the Moscow City Prosecutor's Office. Menkeev confirmed this fact to the newspaper "Versiya," noting that he had been released from prison on 20 October 2003. "I want to say that all charges concerning my participation in a terrorist act have been dropped," Menkeev emphasized.(144)

The version of events being related by the press department of the Moscow City Prosecutor's Office in October 2003 differed in major ways from the former account of the now-purged Mikhail Avdyukov-led procuracy.(145) According to the new version, "the Urus-Martan Wahhabi [Aslambek] Khaskhanov" had, in the fall of 2001, sent a team consisting of seven rebels to Moscow. Once there, they had purchased three vehicles, one of them a "Tavriya," "which they intended to mine and blow up in parking lots at the buildings of the State Duma [!] and at the McDonald's restaurant at Pushkin Square." The rebels had received plastic explosives "from persons who have not been identified by investigators." It emerged, however, that the plastic explosive employed by the rebels was in fact "imitation plastic explosive" which originally had "a Ministry of Defense origin." "It is fully possible," the account continued, "that the imitation plastic explosive was provided to the terrorists of Khaskhanov by the former employee of the GRU, Major Arman Menkeev, a specialist in explosive substances." Not surprisingly, the account noted, the bombs placed at the building of the State Duma and in Pushkin Square had failed to work. Did this whole operation of 2001 -- if it in fact occurred -- escape official notice completely? This would be quite extraordinary, especially in the wake of 11 September 2001.

"The group of Aslambek Khaskhanov," the revised Moscow City Prosecutor's Office account continued, "came to Moscow a second time, already in the fall of 2002. This time the terrorists also planned to commit a series of explosions after which, making use of the panic and confusion, one other group of rebels under the command of Movsar Baraev and Ruslan Elmurzaev (Abubakar) was to perform a mass seizure of hostages." On 19 October, the group, using a land mine (fugas), set off a car bomb in a "Tavriya" vehicle parked at the McDonald's on Pokryshkin Street. Once the Baraevites had seized the theater building, the Khaskhanov group then chose to go underground.

The new and quite drastically revised version of events currently being put out by the post-purge Moscow City Prosecutor's Office strikes one as, in essence, a complete fabrication. Most of the key discoveries made by the MUR and by the now-"cleansed" former Moscow procuracy have been adroitly swept under a rug, while Arman Menkeev's role in the events of October 2002 is now passed over in total silence.

Elements among both the Russian leadership and the power ministries and among the Chechen extremists obtained their principal goals in the assault on the theater at Dubrovka: namely, an end was put to the negotiation process while Aslan Maskhadov's reputation was besmirched, and the terrorists, for their part, had an opportunity to stage a grandiose fund-raiser. The Russian authorities, moreover, were now able to demonstrate to the entire world that Moscow, too, had been a victim of an Al-Qaeda-style Chechen terrorist act. As in 1999, the chief victims of these terrorist acts were the average citizens of Moscow. The bulk of the evidence, as we have seen, points to significant collusion having occurred on the part of the Chechen extremists and elements of the Russian leadership in the carrying out of the Dubrovka events.

(John B. Dunlop is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.)

(92) For a list of the negotiators, see "Te, kto ne strelyal," "Moskovskie novosti," 29 October 2002. The presence of the name of Sergei Dedukh here is incorrect; he visited the theater in the capacity of a correspondent for NTV. The information concerning Igrunov's visit appeared in "Gazeta Wyborcza" (Poland), 24 October 2002, posted at, 24 October 2002. Politkovksaya paid tribute to Aslakhanov's role in "Posle 57 chasov," "Novaya gazeta," No. 82, 4 November 2002.

(93) Alex Nicholson, "Yavlinsky Describes His Role in Crisis," "The Moscow Times," 5 November 2002.

(94) Olga Tropkina, "Vvedenie tsenzury dopustimo," "Nezavisamaya gazeta," 28 October 2002.

(95) Anna Politkovskaya, "My Hours Inside the Moscow Theater."

(96), 27 October.

(97) " reskonstruirovala shturm,'", 28 October 2002.

(98) Pavel Felgengauer, "'Nord Ost': reputatsiya ili gaz?" "Novaya gazeta," 27 October 2003.

(99) "Yavlinsky Describes his Role in the Crisis."

(100) " rekonstruirovala shturm,", 28 October 2002.

(101) "Russian pundit critical of hostage rescue operation, policy on Chechnya," Ekho Moskvy Radio, BBC Monitoring Service, 26 October 2002.

(102) "Feat of Arms,", 31 October 2002. In English.

(103) Valerii Yakov, "My vse zalozhniki Kremlya," "Novye izvestiya," 29 October 2002. See also: "Two Hostages Killed in Moscow Theater," AP, 26 October 2002, posted at 4:52 a.m.

(104) "Russian pundit critical..."

(105) "Tri dnya v adu," "Komsomolskaya pravda," 29 October 2002.

(106) Viktor Baranets in "Komanda-shturm!" Komsomolskaya pravda, 29 October 2002.

(107) Cited in Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, "Gas in Raid Killed 115 Hostages," "The Washington Post," 28 October 2002.

(108) " rekonstruirovala shturm,", 28 October 2002.

(109), 31 October 2002. Testimony of hostage Aleksandr Zeltserman, a resident of Latvia. The accounts of special forces personnel who participated in the storming suggest that they began letting in the gas at about 1:15 a.m. See "Ofitsery 'Alfy' i 'Vympela' o shturme,", 30 October 2002. The article "Kreml nameren skryt pravdu o terakte na Dubrovke,", 1 November 2002 states that they began pouring in the gas "at about 2:30 a.m. on 26 October -- that is, approximately three hours (!!) before the storm."

(110) Sergei Dyupin, "Peredozirovka," "Kommersant," 28 October 2002.

(111) "Osvobozhdenie: neizvestnye podrobnosti,", 28 October 2002.

(112) Sergei Topol, Aleksandr Zheglov, Olga Allenova, "Antrakt posle terakta," "Kommersant," 23 October 2003. A year previously, Andrei Seltsovskii, chair of the Moscow Committee on Health, had stated that "only two [hostages] died of gunshot wounds." ("Peredozirovka," "Kommersant," 28 October 2002)

(113) I stipulated the number 204 in my "Taking a New Look at the Hostage-Taking Incident," "Chechnya Weekly," 17 December 2002. Julius Strauss, who had been in an apartment building with a clear view of the main entrance to the theater, wrote in "Kremlin Keeping Siege Deaths Secret to Avoid Criticism," "The Daily Telegraph," 31 October 2002: "There are now fears that the final death figure, if it is ever published, may be above 200." The website reported on 28 October 2002 that 160 hostages had already died and that 40 were in the hospital in such a grave condition and that they could not be saved.

(114) Judith Ingram, "Moscow Theater Hostages Face Poor Health," Associated Press, 6 December 2002.

(115) Margarita Kondrateva, "Zhertvy 'Nord-Osta' provodyat nezavisimoe rassledovanie,", 28 April 2003.

(116) In "Versiya," 21 October 2003.

(117) See "Duma says no to theater terrorism inquiry,", 1 November 2002. For the text of the Union of Rightist Forces' report, see "Kak eto bylo? Spasenie zalozhnikov ili unichtozhenie terroristov?" "Novaya Gazeta," No. 86, 21 November 2002.

(118) "Empty alcohol bottles, syringes found inside Moscow siege building," RTR, BBC Monitoring Service, 8:00 a.m., 26 October 2002.

(119) "Putin priglasil v Kreml 'Alfu' i 'Vympel,'" "Komsomolskaya pravda," 1 November 2002.

(120) Vladimir Kovalev, "Russia: Heroes and Lawyers," Transitions Online,, 10 March 2003. See also Yurii Shchekochikhin, "Sekretnye geroi," "Novaya gazeta," No. 16, 3 March 2003.

(121) Yurii Levada, "Reiting voiny," "Novoe vremya," 5 November 2002.

(122) Testimony of hostage Ilya Lysak, in "Novaya gazeta," 14 November 2002.

(123) Reuters, 27 October 2002.

(124) "V Moskve gotovilos chetyre 'Nord-Osta,'" "Rossiiskaya gazeta," 20 June 2003.

(125) Sergei Topol, Aleksandr Zheglov, Olga Allenova, "Antrakt posle terakta," "Kommersant," 23 October 2003.

(126) "Russian Security Service Says No Gunmen Escape," AP, 26 October 2002.

(127) "Osvobozhdenie: neizvestnye podrobnosti,", 28 October 2002.

(128) "V Moskve gotovilos..."

(129) Mikhail Trepashkin, "Spravka," 23 March 2003. Lengthy excerpts from this document were published in "Tainstvennyi 'Abubakar,'", 31 July 2003. On 27 December 2003, the website published a statement by Mikhail Trepashkin, which had been smuggled out of prison, in which he asserted that he was being physically tortured by the authorities.

(130) In "Moskovskii komsomolets," 23 May 2003.

(131) Zoya Svetova, "Ya uveren, chto Abubakar zhiv...", 23 October 2003.

(132) Sergei Topol, Aleksandr Zheglov, Olga Allenova, "Antrakt posle terakta," "Kommersant," 23 October 2003.

(133) Ibid.

(134) Leonid Berres, "MUR opravdalsya za 'Nord-Ost,'", 7 February 2003. See, too, Andrei Skrobot, "V 'Lefortovo' doprashivayut geroev 'Nord-Osta,'" "Nezavsimaya gazeta," 25 June 2003.

(135) "MUR opravdalsya..."

(136) Andrei Salnikov, "Peredel vnutrennikh del," "Kommersant-Dengi," 7 July 2003.

(137), 24 June 2003.

(138) Aleksandr Khinshtein, "Glavnyi terrorist 'Nord-Osta,'" "Moskovskii komsomolets," 23 May 2003.

(139) Zinaida Lobanova, "Tolko on otvetit za 'Nord-Ost,'" "Komsomolskaya pravda," 22 April 2003.

(140) Andrei Skrobot, "Vzryvy v Moskve gotovyat v Podmoskove," "Nezavisimaya gazeta," 6 June 2003.

(141) Zinaida Lobanova et al., "Naiden ment, pustivshii terroristov v 'Nord-Ost,'" "Komsomolskaya pravda," 9 June 2003.

(142) "V Moskve gotovilos chetyre 'Nord-Osta,'" "Rossiiskaya gazeta," 20 June 2003.

(143) Sergei Topol, Aleksandr Zheglov, Olga Allenova, "Antrakt posle terakta," "Kommersant," 23 October 2003.

(144) In Irina Borogan, "Obvinyaemogo v tragedii 'Nord-Osta' vypustili na svobodu," "Versiya," No. 41, October 2003. On Menkeev, see also Aleksandr Elisov, "Zov krovi,", 24 October 2003.

(145) Sergei Topol, Aleksandr Zheglov, Olga Allenova, "Antrakt posle terakta," "Kommersant," 23 October 2003.