“I Didn’t Agree To Die”: Hostage Of “Nord-Ost” Spoke About Life Before And After The Terrorist Attack

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“I Didn’t Agree To Die”: Hostage Of “Nord-Ost” Spoke About Life Before And After The Terrorist Attack
“I Didn’t Agree To Die”: Hostage Of “Nord-Ost” Spoke About Life Before And After The Terrorist Attack

Video: “I Didn’t Agree To Die”: Hostage Of “Nord-Ost” Spoke About Life Before And After The Terrorist Attack

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Video: Surviving Terrorism: 10 Years On. Why Moscow theatre terror attack survivors choose life 2023, January

Eighteen years ago, on October 23, terrorists seized 916 hostages in the building of the theater center, where the performance "Nord-Ost" was being staged. The people were released only after 58 hours, on October 26. According to official data, 130 people died as a result of the terrorist attack, according to unofficial data - 174.


Years go by, but the memory of the terrible event is not erased. "Evening Moscow" spoke with one of the hostages, journalist Alena Mikhailova, who lost her husband at the theater on Dubrovka.

"The first shot sounded"

The fact that Alena and her husband Maxim were at the Nord-Ost musical that evening can be called a tragic accident, a coincidence. The woman's husband was a well-known journalist in Kaliningrad, the director of a radio station; he went to the capital on a business trip to "resolve official issues." Alena followed Maxim to show the city to her eldest son, who was just having autumn holidays. Three hours before the start of the performance, the woman accidentally bought tickets for the production at the box office of the underpass. We went to the theater together, the son stayed at the hotel.

The first part of "Nord-Ost", according to Alena, was amazing. The woman even regretted that she had not taken the child with her. In the second part, according to her recollections, everything changed:

- We were sitting in the third row in the middle of the hall, I did not see the "sides" and I noticed the terrorists only when they had already appeared on the stage. I know very well the work on which the performance was staged, and I remembered for sure that this should not be there. In addition, since we were close to the stage, I saw from the faces of the actors that they were clearly not ready for such a turn. Then the first shot rang out, plaster fell on me. It became clear that this was a real line, not a fake one.

From the moment of that line to the release of the hostages, 58 hours of fear, shooting and death passed. But Alena found out about this only later, after her release - in captivity, the feeling of time was completely erased:

- My husband and I had regular hours, no dates. And when you sit in a hall without windows, daylight hours, you gradually get lost, you don't understand - is it morning or evening. How much time has passed … I managed to restore the whole picture only later, collecting the archive, comparing my memories with those of others. To understand the state of the people, imagine: a huge hall, everyone is sitting, you can't walk, you can't get up. If you want to go to the toilet, raise your hand. They may be allowed to go there in two or three hours. There is no oxygen. There is a terrible stench in the hall, because we had a toilet in the orchestra pit. Gradually, because of all this, people seem to turn off and sit in half-oblivion. Some are asleep, others are quietly talking, someone is standing in line for the orchestra pit. The locks click from time to time - and we again dive under the chairs.

In such a heavy, oppressive atmosphere, no one had hysterics or panic. People sat very still and terribly calm, Alena says. She recalls two particularly emotional moments. The first - when a woman saw the corpse of a girl who had entered into a skirmish with the terrorists, and realized that the invaders were not joking.

- I went to the toilet (then we were still allowed to walk in the foyer) and saw the body of a young woman, - says the journalist. - Then some people still thought that the invaders were just pressing us, but in fact they were not going to kill anyone. It's scary to believe that this is possible in the center of the capital, in a peaceful city! When I returned, told about what I had seen, it became clear to many that what was happening was serious. Another strange moment happened to one man. He was sitting somewhere behind us and suddenly jumped up and ran along the backs of the chairs forward onto the stage.They immediately began to pour a line on him, but instead they hit other people. I remember a woman shouting: "Help, he is bleeding!"

"I don't agree with that!"

Everyone experiences stressful situations in their own way. If many of the hostages seemed to have frozen, hiding in their thoughts, then Alena had to act. Since the field for manipulation was not particularly large, the only options available were calling relatives and trying to talk to the terrorists.

- My main thought was that I have a child in the hotel alone, - shares Alena. - In the morning he will wake up - mom and dad are gone, there is no phone, no money, and none of our relatives knows where we are staying. So my first task, when the terrorists handed out phones and allowed them to call, was to contact my friends in the Moscow region and ask them to pick up the child, because we will either be sitting here for a very long time or will not return at all. Then I started talking to terrorists. It's just such a character trait - I needed to understand why this is happening, because I don't agree with that! I was not depressed, rather, on the contrary, I felt enthusiasm and anger, I tried to reach out to the invaders, to explain that since they made us sit here, we need to be fed. We need medicines, water. They also remind me that I then asked for a pad. Yes, I did. Because I went to the theater for 2 hours, not 58.

Alena emphasizes that she did not set herself the task of establishing contact with the terrorists, nevertheless, it turned out to be impossible for her to exclude communication with them:

- I turned to women for permission to get up and go to the orchestra pit. Once she was next to a woman who was wearing a suicide bomber's belt, very close, and asked: "Why us?" After all, none of us made a decision to send troops into Chechnya, we are just spectators. Many in Moscow are passing through. She said that I had one child in a strange city, that the baby was at home, in Kaliningrad …

The next wave of anger rolled over the woman when she began to freeze - she was forced to sit here in uncomfortable conditions, experiencing constant stress, and warm clothes are so close in the wardrobe.

- If I have to exist in such circumstances, then it is necessary to adapt, - she says. - Therefore, I became one of those who persuaded the terrorists to go for clothes, and I was really taken there by two invaders. Later, of course, I realized that this was not entirely correct: at best they could have been raped, at worst they could have been shot. But then, at that moment, it was important to me.

Despite the fact that all the hostages became participants in the same terrible events, the attitude to what was happening was different. Someone did not believe that the terrorists actually wanted to blow up someone, some still hold this opinion. Others were convinced that the most terrible thing that could happen now is the storming of the theater building.

“I didn’t belong to such people,” the journalist continues. - On the contrary, there was a clear understanding that all this would not end well and a violent option was inevitable here. And the longer we sit here, the worse people get. There was no food or water practically. Better an assault than agonizing waiting for no one knows what.

"There were two operations"

The assault began on October 26. In the course of it, a kind of gas was used to lull those in the building, which affected not only the terrorists, but also the hostages. And it is around this measure that the most heated debates are being conducted today, because only five prisoners were shot by the invaders, 119 died afterwards, in hospitals. Including the spouse of our interlocutor.

- I am convinced that there were two operations to free the hostages. The first is combat, the second is directly to save lives. And maybe I agree with the first part. Such an event was the first in the history of our country and, perhaps, in those conditions, gas really turned out to be the only adequate option. But what happened next was a complete mess.It is not even clear whether we were injected with antidotes. We are told that people died because they spent 58 hours hungry and with their chronic diseases. But it doesn't work that way. It does not happen that a person sat for several days, and then once - and died.

Alena compares the effect of gas with anesthesia:

- It was impossible to leave sleepy, poisoned people. You can't leave. Even now, the most terrible shots for me are those where law enforcement officers are walking in the vacated hall, conducting investigative measures, and there are still people, hostages. That is, the video was clearly filmed not 10 minutes after the assault, and the victims are still lying, they were not taken out. And who made this decision, as you guessed - which of them is asleep, and who has already died?

The woman managed to cope with the action of the poisonous substance. Nevertheless, according to her, she still suffers from severe consequences:

- The main difficulty was that no one said what kind of gas it was. That is, the doctors simply did not know what to treat for, and fought with the symptoms. In my case, the most obvious was the paralyzed arm. Perhaps, when we were put to sleep, my husband leaned on me. Maybe when they pulled it out and put it on the asphalt, someone was lying on top and passed something. One way or another, but the right hand simply hung, everything had to be done with the left. Fortunately, we managed to cope with this problem with massages, droppers, so now the sensitivity is disturbed only in one finger.

Another dangerous symptom is severe blood thickening. Alena is still struggling with this, she constantly drinks thinning drugs, periodically goes to the hospital. But the main problem, the most tangible in everyday life, is the constant blackouts.

- I have lost the sense of time, - shares the interlocutor of "VM". - The internal clock is completely absent - this is how it was then, in the hall, and it is the same now. I am not guided by days, I constantly need to keep a calendar with me or build on some significant event in order to remember what date or day of the week it is. Travel problems also arise. Several times I got lost in unfamiliar cities, because I could not remember the name and address of the hotel, and even the number of the room in which we were staying. Now I have to photograph every step I take: the hotel's business card, the room number. If I am in a hospital - the number of the ward where I am lying, the numbers of the wards where the procedures take place, the floors. I make myself a clear algorithm of actions.

Although Alena did not reconcile, she learned to live with her forgetfulness. It is much more difficult to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, especially when the next anniversary of the tragedy is approaching. But now a woman can at least talk about what happened, at first it seemed easier to withdraw into herself:

- When I was just discharged from the hospital, I constantly wanted to talk. But then the materials of journalists began to appear. One, the other … There was a lot of ad-libbing, for which I constantly had to apologize, explain that I meant something completely different. As a result, it began to seem that everyone was condemning me, and I just closed myself in, deciding that I would never say anything to anyone again. Then I talked to a psychologist and over time, of course, it became easier. I returned to work, interviewed people who, in my opinion, experienced more difficult events than me. As with the Kursk submarine, for example. All this, work, family, children, gradually brought me back to this life. Now I have formed a clear conviction that since I did not die there, I will live every second, rejoicing in everything, even being in the hospital. Besides, I have two children. At the time of the attack, one was nine years old, the other a year. If I had withdrawn into myself, I would simply ruin their lives. I am still sure that it was the children who brought me out of 'Nord-Ost' too: I did not agree to die and leave them orphans.

"Childhood is over"

Probably the most difficult thing after such a tragedy would be to explain to the children where dad disappeared, why he is no longer there.Fortunately or unfortunately, Alena did not face such a problem: the youngest child did not yet realize what had happened, and the older one was already following the development of events on the news.

- I believe that his childhood ended just then. After my call from the hall, friends took him from the hotel, - says Alena, - and already in their apartment all these hours he watched the news. That is, I was fully aware of the situation. The three of us returned to Kaliningrad: me, my son and my father. I don't remember much from the first months, but, apparently, I behaved strangely, because at some point I realized that the child was following me around the apartment all the time. Apparently, somewhere in his childish brain, he decided that I could not live on and would commit suicide. So he followed me everywhere, quickly became very adult, independent. And the youngest was only a year old, he has no childhood memories of his dad. Only photographs, stories. Since then, he only visits his father in the cemetery.

Alena does not know how to behave in order to survive being taken hostage. Is that sticking together, not moving away from other victims and not panicking, she says:

- Those who are discouraged die faster. Don't think selfishly about yourself, about being scared. Only - about those who need you. Think of parents, children, loved ones, friends, or an unfinished book, an unfinished film. Dying is not scary. It is scary to leave people on earth who will grieve for you for the rest of their lives.

Terrorist attack on Dubrovka

On October 23, 2002, a hostage-taking initiated by terrorists led by Movsar Barayev began in Moscow on Dubrovka. The militants held captive workers, spectators and the cast of the musical "Nord-Ost" in the building of the theater center for three days. In total, 916 people were taken hostage. The Russian security forces managed to eliminate all extremists and release most of the hostages. According to official figures, about 130 civilians were killed. The Russian authorities consider the actions of the militants aimed at intimidating and intimidating the population.

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