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Moscow Subway-Blasts Mourners Tell Tales Of Lives Lost

The parents of Maksim Mareyev, who was killed by one of the bombings in Moscow's subway on March 29, mourn at his funeral on March 31.
The parents of Maksim Mareyev, who was killed by one of the bombings in Moscow's subway on March 29, mourn at his funeral on March 31.
MOSCOW -- Vsevolod Makarevich always drove to work. But that day, he had been forced to take Moscow's crowded subway after traffic police confiscated his driver's license.

A young entrepreneur who ran his own business, he made a point of being punctual for work and had been frustrated by the unexplained delays in that morning's commute.

Traveling in the same subway carriage was Viktor Ginkut, a high-ranking Russian Navy captain based in Ukraine who was in Moscow for training. Irina Makarova, a middle-aged courier, was also on the train on her way to work.

The three didn't know each other. Coincidence and bad luck brought them together that fateful morning of March 29, when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb packed with bolts and iron rods as their train pulled into the Park Kultury station.

They were killed almost instantly.

The blast was the second of two consecutive suicide bombings on the Moscow subway that left 40 people dead.

Among the victims, aged 16 to 65, were office employees, students, and migrant workers -- a mere sampling of the almost 6 million people who rely daily on the world's busiest subway system.

'Too Honest For His Own Good'

Vsevolod Makarevich
Vsevolod Makarevich was 29 years old. He was a passionate mountain climber who had set up a company installing air conditioners high on building facades. He was also fond of traveling; one of his close friends recalled on her LiveJournal page how he dreamed of visiting New Zealand and seeing a kiwi bird.

According to his older brother, Yevgeny, he was always ready to embark on new adventures. "He spent this New Year's Eve in a tent in the forest. He loved this kind of expedition," Yevgeny recalls. "We managed to hold him back for a while but on January 1, he headed to the forest with his tent and spent the night there. He was constantly away on all kind of trips, always climbing everywhere."

His relatives were proud of his pluckiness, but it also worried them. Vsevolod Makarevich fiercely resented Russia's rampant corruption and did not hesitate to confront unscrupulous officials and police officers, often getting himself in trouble in the process.

"Policemen once harassed some of our friends about their registration, they were very rude," Yevgeny says. "Vsevolod and I went to the police station to help. I started negotiating calmly, but he began shouting at the policemen. He couldn't stand official abuse, he was absolutely uncompromising in that respect."

In a cruel twist of fate, it is his honesty that cost him his life.

Police suspended his driver's license several weeks ago after he failed to notice a traffic sign that he insisted was invisible from the road. Makarevich could easily have bought his license back from the notoriously corrupt traffic police, but his sense of integrity did not allow him to pay bribes.

He took the case to court instead and lost, after which he reluctantly began riding the subway to work.

That morning, he had been wondering why the train he was on was so sluggish. He did not know that trains on that line were behind schedule because a bomb had just ripped through the Lubyanka station, several stops away.

He called his girlfriend, Maria, from inside the doomed train, just minutes before the blast. "He called his girlfriend at 8.30 a.m. and asked her to find out on the Internet or on the news why the trains were moving so slowly," Yevgeny says. "She called back to say she didn't know."

Makarevich decided to change his route and get off at the next station, Park Kultury, to catch a train on the faster circular line. As he prepared to exit the carriage, a suicide bomber standing by the doors set off her explosives.

He and Maria had met exactly one year before and were planning to celebrate their anniversary that evening. Vsevolod Makarevich also leaves behind a twin brother, German.

Remembering Parents Lost

Irina Makarova, too, was heading to work. At 65, she was the oldest of the bombings' victims. She had been traveling back to her office after an early morning delivery.

Her daughter-in-law, Yelena Smirnova, says she will be sorely missed. "She was a loving mother, a caring grandmother, and a wonderful mother-in-law," she says.

Viktor Ginkut
Viktor Ginkut, in Moscow on a business trip, was meant to return to his home city of Sevastopol three days later. The 43-year-old was a captain with Russia's Ukraine-based Black Sea Fleet and had a distinguished career behind him. In December, he had been appointed deputy chief of the fleet's rear operations.

Black Sea Fleet spokesman Andrei Krylov says he was friendly, smiling man deeply respected by his colleagues. "That morning, he called his boss and told him he was on his way to visit him to discuss a work-related issue, they were meant to meet shortly afterwards," Krylov says. "Then he disappeared. In the evening we got the news and his colleagues went to identify his body."

His daughter, Viktoria, studies in Moscow and had seen her father the day before. She was planning to accompany him on the subway that morning but had slept in, and Ginkut had not wanted to wake her up.

Relatives, friends, and residents of his home city plan to gather on a Sevastopol square on April 6 to honor his memory.

'Hoping To Return Home'

Like Ginkut, a number of victims came from afar. Umed Abdurahmonov, a native of Tajikistan, had moved to the Russian capital two years ago in search of work.

He and his brother worked in Moscow to support their father and four siblings. Abdurahmonov, who had turned 24 the week before, had just been employed as a bricklayer's assistant and had been looking forward to his third day in his new job.

He had spoken to his aunt, Bozorgul Boboshoeva, on the telephone several days before the blasts that took his life. He was happy because he had recently repaid the money he had borrowed to buy his railway ticket to Moscow.

Boboshoeva wept as she collected his remains at the airport in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe. "His mother died. They lived in a small house with three other families," she says. "He planned to save enough money to buy his own house and live in decent conditions. He hoped to return home, marry, and simply enjoy life."

'Kind And Approachable'

Viktor Tikhomirov, a top employee of the Moscow United Electric Grid Company, died in the same explosion at the Lubyanka metro station. Like most of the victims, he had been traveling to work during the morning rush hour at the time of the bombings.

His daughter says he always rose early for work and was usually the first to leave home in the morning. The teenager, who preferred not to give her name, says she had walked him to the door of their flat that morning. "He had a good job, one can say he was even a workaholic," she says. "He knew how to organize work so that everything functioned. His colleagues probably respected him, I got that impression from what they said."

His daughter says he didn't like being late for work and had recently started using the subway to avoid traffic jams. "For a while he drove by car, but when he understood that it took much longer in the car he decided to take the subway. It was a lot faster that way," she says.

Irina Kuldoshina
His company, in an official condolences statement, said the 45-year-old Tikhomirov had been "a responsible and energetic director, a cordial, approachable, kind person."

Identified By Her Jewelry

Many students were among the victims. One of them was Irina Kuldoshina, a 22-year-old law student who was heading to the meat factory where she worked as a legal expert to finance her studies.

She came from the distant Siberian city of Yakutsk, where she leaves behind a father and a younger sister. Her mother passed away last year.

Olga Volkova, the dean of her university, knew her well. She says Kuldoshina was a gifted student who had impressed her employers so much that they had offered her to stay on permanently after she graduated later this year.

On March 29, friends at the university campus started worrying when her employers called to report that she was missing and that her mobile phone was switched off.

They found her the next day in one of Moscow's morgues. She had been at the very heart of the explosion and her friends were able to indentify her only by the jewelry she had been wearing that day.

Volkova says her death deeply shocked the campus. "We thought her close friend would accompany her body to Yakutsk, but she is in very bad shape, psychologists will be working with her," Volkova says. "They all lived together at the student campus. The girls are all in shock. I consoled them as best I could, but what can I do? There are simply no words for such a situation."

A Bad Omen

Another student, Maksim Mareyev, was also on the train. He studied cybernetics and economics at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.

Maksim Mareyev
Valentin Klimov, his supervisor of studies, says he was an endearing, sociable student who had many friends. "He was a very kind-hearted, cheerful, happy person," Klimov says. "He was a faithful friend who always lent a hand to those in need of help. He had many friends -- even I was his friend, we got on very well. We were planning to write scientific articles together."

Klimov last saw him on the eve of the tragedy. The two had met at the university's laboratory to put the finishing touches on a project Mareyev had been working on, and he had been in high spirits.

On the day of the tragedy, he was already several subway stops away from home when he realized he had forgotten his mobile phone. Cutting a journey to return home is generally considered a bad omen in Russia, but he decided to fetch his phone anyway and switched trains.

He never made it home.

Maksim Mareyev was 20 years old.

written by Claire Bigg in Prague, with contributions from Anastasia Kirilenko in Moscow and RFE/RL's Russian and Tajik services

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