'We Want to Die More Than You Want to Live'

Actress Alevtina Popova, who was taken hostage in the theater, has told to described what happened to her.

Actor Bogdanov sang his final aria. Suddenly, a woman appeared she lied down and started to shoot at the hall.

Lida had time to report through a translation set that the hall was being fired upon. We all came down to the TV set. In the hall, there was no panic, because the people could not understand whether it was a joke or not.

A woman with a machine-gun ran up to us through the vestibule, while we ran to the second floor, locked the door, and she was running and firing. We sat quiet.

We thought that she had been caught. However, when we switched on the translation, we heard: “Women, hands on the head, go to the left; men, hands on the head, go to the right; Georgians can leave the hall.”

Georgian accent. Afterwards, they started to shoot and blocked the entrance, while we sat and waited for translation. They said, “Everything is mined. “

Somebody said that the woman had a control panel. I heard the voices of three men and two women. However, somebody said that there were four men and two women. Not more. Though I heard only three men and two women. And I saw only one woman. That was the woman who spoke through the translator.

They locked themselves in a dressing room. 5-6 people, not more. After they mentioned the explosion, they started to read some Muslim ritual songs. Then, they started to cry something like “Khai, mai, khai,” and we decided they would blow up the building immediately. So, we tore down curtains, tied them together, and started to descend. This was the second floor window. I should say that before this. we phoned to the police, and they did not want to talk to us. We wanted to tell them that they could climb up to us and neutralize the terrorists.

The transcript of a telephone conversation between a hostage and the Rescue Service aired by the radio station Mayak

- Rescue Service, operator 300, good afternoon.

- Good afternoon.

- I am listening to you, speak, please.

- I am not joking; there are hostages in the hall. I am in the theatre, at the musical Nord-Ost.

- OK.

- It is the theatre near to the metro station “Proletarskaya.”

- Tell me the address, please.

- Yes, but I don’t know the address. This is the musical “Nord-Ost.”

- OK.

- It is Kurochkin Street, 6 or 7, if I am not mistaken.

- How many hostages are there?

- The whole audience is hostages.

- What do the terrorists demand?

- What do they demand? They demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya.

- OK. I understand. Please, do not disconnect your phone.

- Excuse me, if I my phone is disconnected, I will switch it off.

- Mr., tell me, please, what is happening in the hall?

- In the hall? Almost nothing. Everybody is trying to reach their relatives by phone, though not everybody can do it. The gunmen are walking everywhere.

- Can you freely move in the hall?

- We are forbidden to walk; we can only sit. Actually, we are seated as we sat during the performance. Near to the foldable seats, there are women, and they are mined.

- What do you mean?

- They are all mined, all the women. In the center, there is an explosive.

- Are the women near this explosive?

- Yes, they are near it, and they stand around the perimeter of the hall.

- Do they stand in the passes?

- Yes, in the passes, and around the whole perimeter.

- Did the terrorists specially choose women for these aims?

- No, they are their women. They are mined. They are kamikaze. ...Unreal, I suppose, we all will die here. I am not joking.

The Quatar TV company Al-Jazeera showed a video recording of the Chechen militants. “It does not matter where we will die; we have chosen death here, in Moscow, and we will take with us the souls of the infidels.” This was said by one of five masked women who were shown under a flag with Arab inscription “Allah is Great.”

In another video-record shown by Al-Jazeera, a gunman could be seen, who said: “Everyone of us is ready for self-sacrifice for the sake of Allah and independence of Chechnya. We want to die more than you want to live.” He added that the gunmen belong to a Chechen special group. Nothing was reported about when and where the video-records had been received.


Translated by Vera Solovieva

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