news from russia
news from russia updated 10/25 10:30am EST
If you are looking for news of the Russian hostage situation, being that the U.S. media is all but ignoring it in favor of showing you the same scenes a car being towed over and over again, here are some English language Russian newspapers with up to date information.
Gazeta.ru has several personal accounts of what went on inside the theater:
''They talked to each other in some incomprehensible language. Only one of them talked to us in Russian. Without any threats he asked the assembly not to panic.'' Afterwards, the theatre-goers were divided into two groups – men and women were taken into opposite parts of the hall and asked to show their passports. After checking the documents, the terrorists started to release a few of the hostages – some foreigners and Muslims. The Chechens also released about 20 children.
Interfax Information Agency has a wealth of stories on the situation, including this interesting bit:
The Russian Press Ministry has issued a repeated warning to the media against letting the hostage-takers speak on the air, press secretary of the Ministry Yuri Akinshin has told Interfax.
"We insist on the inadmissibility of providing the terrorists with the opportunity to speak through certain media outlets, including the Echo Moskvy radio station," Akinshin said.
The circulation of such information violates the law On Mass Media, he said.
"If this is repeated, we reserve the right to take all proper measures, up to the termination of the activity of those media," Akinshin said.
From The Moscow Times:
Interfax and Russian television, citing rebel web site Kavkaz.org, reported the attackers belong to a group headed by Movsar Barayev, a nephew of slain Chechen field commander Arbi Barayev. The web site could no longer be accessed in Moscow late Wednesday night.
Movsar Barayev has been reported killed several times during the ongoing Chechnya military campaign, most recently 10 days ago during Russian bombing raids.
Barayev was quoted by kavkaz.org as saying that the gunmen arrived in Moscow "to die, not survive" and that 40 Chechen widows are participating in the attack, Interfax reported.
President Vladimir Putin has called the hostage crisis in Moscow another symptom of international terrorism. He compared Wednesday’s terrorist act with the latest attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines. Those who masterminded them were involved in the Moscow raid, he told Russia’s Moslem leaders in the Kremlin on Thursday. Mr. Putin noted that the hostage drama had been planned in one of foreign terrorist centers and that the executors of the crime had been found. The bandits want to sow religious and ethnic strife in Russia, they want to impose the rules they once imposed in Chechnya, he said, assuring that the authorities would not yield to these provocations. The Russian Moslems have sharply condemned Wednesday’s terrorist act and offered to exchange themselves for the hostages
There are four US nationals among those who were taken hostage in a theatrical centre in Moscow's Dubrovka street, American ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow told reporters Thursday.
The diplomat said the embassy was not 100% sure of the information, but it seemed likely as of that moment.
One of the American hostages made a cellular phone call to his relatives in the States, who were quick to contact the embassy, according to Mr Vershbow.
He emphasised that the United States was eager to join hands with Russia to resolve the problem. Among other things, the US could offer intelligence assistance, according to the diplomat.
The Russia Journal Daily has some quotes from the hostage takers:
"I swear by God we are more keen on dying than you are keen on living," a black-clad male said in the broadcast. "Each one of us is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of God and the independence of Chechnya."
"Even if we are killed, thousands of brothers and sisters will come after us, ready to sacrifice themselves," declared a female covered in a black robe except for her eyes.
Interfax has updated their information on the Americans being held in the theater:
There are three U.S. citizens and one person who permanently lives in the U.S. and has a 'green card' among the hostages held in a Moscow theater, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow told the press on Thursday.
He noted, however, that this information is preliminary.
One of the Americans called U.S. diplomats on a cell phone from the theater and provided information about himself. Another American woman among the hostages managed to call her family in the U.S., from which American diplomats in Moscow learned about the situation inside the seized building, Vershbow said.
The U.S. Embassy does not have any confirmed information on the health of the remaining American hostages, he said.
Taking questions from the press, Vershbow emphasized that the action perpetrated by the hostage-takers in Moscow cannot help the Chechen cause but, on the contrary, can only provoke anger towards those employing terror for attaining their ends.
The U.S. is still convinced that the conflict in Chechnya can be resolved politically, but this cannot be done by way of terror, Vershbow said.
*update* 9:28pm EST
Movsar Barayev is also known as Movsar Suleimenov. He is the nephew of the infamous warlord Arbi Barayev, who gained notoriety by establishing a huge slave-trading network throughout Chechnya. Arbi Barayev was slain in summer 2001 in his home village of Alkhan-Kala. After his uncle’s death Movsar took command of most of his uncle’s men.
It is believed that Suleimenov and his younger subordinates controlled all the rebel groups in Grozny, though his name was hardly ever mentioned in connection with rebel raids against the federals. Federal forces, though, have repeatedly claimed to have killed him.
On October 12 the deputy commander of the combined federal forces in Chechnya Boris Podoprigora reported that Barayev was killed in an artillery raid. The official notice read that Barayev was killed by precision strikes delivered by Russian artillery and the Air Force. Governmental news agency RIA-Novosti reported that the warlord and his gang were destroyed near the village of Komsomolskoye, in the Urus Martan district of the republic.
A box with medicines for children needing medical aid has been passed to the theater, in which a group of armed Chechen fighters have been holding hostage hundreds of people since Wednesday evening.
A crew of the NTV television and a foreign doctor entered the building with the medicines several minutes ago, a source with the crisis center has told Interfax.
They are also reporting that all the children may be released on Friday.
*update* 10/25/02 10:30am EST
From Gazeta.ru: this is just incredibly heartbreaking
The rebels have issued an ultimatum to the Russian authorities. According to the Gazeta.Ru correspondent reporting from the site, through the hostages the rebels contacted the nearby crisis headquarters and said that by Saturday morning the authorities are to fulfill the following three conditions: firstly, an anti-war rally must be held near the theatre building, secondly, a similar protest must be held on Red Square, and, most importantly, federal troops must leave Chechnya. Should any of those demands be ignored, the rebels have threatened to start killing their hostages.
Some 30 relatives have already held a rally not far from the theatre. However, they fear that the terrorists might not have seen them, because police stopped them from moving closer to the building. The protesters even attempted to approach the building from the rear, and called on TV channels to broadcast the action.
According to various reports, between 50 and 100 people gathered for the rally. They held up hand-written banners and posters reading: ''No to the war in Chechnya'', ''Down with the Russian Army'', and ''Stop the war in Chechnya''. The protestors looked despondent and many women cried.