Details of the Crisis in Moscow

In Moscow, a special plan has been developed. Yesterday evening, several minutes before the second act of the famous musical Nord-Ost, a group of 20 or 30 people, apparently Chechens, rushed into the auditorium of the former Club of Moscow Ball Bearing Factory. They made several aimless shots and permitted the spectators to phone to their relatives and friends via cellular telephones. Then they announced that all present were hostages. According to NTV television company, the terrorists possess Kalashnikov rifles.

After 30 minutes, children and Muslims were released from the building. According to some information, explosives were placed in the hall.

Near to the building of the Culture Theatre, the leadership of Moscow Internal Affairs Office gathered, as well as representatives of the Moscow Emergency Office and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. President Putin was also informed about the situation. The elite anti-terrorist group Alfa is preparing itself for an operation.

23.00 MSK. Five hostages managed to escape by jumping out of a window.

23.15 MSK. According to the Internet-agency, well-known militant Movsar Baraev took responsibility for the terrorist act. The agency states that it was Chechen terrorists who captured the building of the Culture Theatre. The terrorist group is headed by Movsar Baraev himself, while the terrorists have with explosive belts. Baraev is said to have contacted the agency and announced his people in Moscow are suicide terrorists. According to him, “Chechen Mojahedins came to Moscow to die.” They have only one demand: to stop the war and to immediately withdraw Russian troops from Chechnya.

23.25 MSK. Seven more hostages managed to escape.

23.40 MSK. According to several people who managed to escape from the concert hall, the terrorists were beating people, while in some passages of the building, the floor is covered in blood. However, the eye-witnesses could not say exactly who the people were who were beaten. 23.50 MSK. The radio station Mayak reported, referring to sources in Moscow Emergency Service, that the terrorists who captured the building shot at a group of employees before the central entrance and threw a grenade. The employees managed to mount a ladder by the end-wall of the building and to rescue actors hiding in their dressing rooms.

00.00 MSK. A crowd of people surrounding the Theatre Centre demanded that the Chechen terrorists be annihilated. According to RIA ‘Novosti’ correspondent, people who live in the houses near to the Culture Theatre were angry and called for resolute actions, showing no mercy to the terrorists.

00.05 MSK. BBC reported the number of terrorists who captured the building made about 100 people.

00.30 MSK. According to Main Office of Internal Affairs, the terrorists released 300 hostages.

00.40 MSK. Tatyana Solnyshkina, musician of the musical orchestra phoned the NTV studio and begged for the building not to be stormed. A NTV journalist suggested to Mrs Solnyshkina to propose to one of the terrorists to express their demands live on television.

00.58 MSK. Various people of different races show themselves. The following e-mail letter was received by PRAVDA.Ru: “We are very hopeful that the Chechen guerrillas have finally reached the bloody regime of Putin in its very den, in the capital. The Revolution Contact Unit approves of this act and fully supports the Moscow antiwar action of the Chechen Resistance in the form it was described by eye-witnesses and mass media the night it was conducted. We are one with our Chechen brothers who are forced to fight to the bitter end and to counterattack the bloody Russian state terrorism everywhere, from Chechnya to Moscow. The Kremlin has caused pain in Chechnya for so many years, so now it has to reap the storm in Moscow and all over Russia! Death to the empire! Chechnya will be free! Subscribed: P.Kantor, B.Stomakhin.

01.01 MSK. Command over of the rescue operation was taken by the deputy director of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Vladimir Pronichev. This was reported by the head of Information and Public Relation Department of Moscow Main Office of Internal Affairs, Valery Gribakin. According to him, the terrorist group counts 40 people. The terrorists do not withhold that they are Chechens. All of them wear masks and have explosive belts.

01.06 MSK. Deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security, Federal Security Service Colonel Mikhail Grishakov, said to a NTV correspondent that the terrorists who captured the hostages fully control the situation. The same was said to PRAVDA.Ru by ex-head of Third Department of KGB-FSB “Military Intelligence” Alexandr Zhardetsky.

01.18 MSK. During the night, Russian President Vladimir Putin carried out in his office an extraordinary sitting of the Security Council with Internal Minister Boris Gryzlov and FSB director Nikolay Patrushev. Both security chiefs reported about the development of the situation. During the meeting, Prime-Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and the head of the Kremlin Administration Alexandr Voloshin also participated.

01.40 MSK. The chairman of Supreme Soviet of Russia, Ruslan Hasbulatov, and the State Duma deputy from Chechnya, Aslanbek Aslakhanov, started negotiations with the terrorists.

01.49 MSK. The terrorists declared their intention to make a statement to the mass media. This was reported to journalists by Aslanbek Aslakhanov. According to him, the terrorists have so far not communicated with him and negotiations have not been started yet. The terrorists’ demands were transmitted to him via released hostages.

01.54 MSK. It became known that there are several dozen women with submachine-guns among the terrorists.

02.00 MSK. Three German citizens were reported to be in the captured building. This was reported by the French mass media referring to the statement of German Foreign Ministry.

02.13 MSK. A teacher of Golden Section School reported to journalists that in the building there are 15 pupils of the school 12 years of age and older.

02.15 MSK. The terrorists announced they were ready to release 50 more hostages in exchange for the head of the Chechen administration Akhmat Kadyrov.

02.41 MSK. Aslakhanov had a telephone conversation with the terrorists’ representative, though they did not reach any agreement.

02.46 MSK. Troops broaden the encirclement zone around the building. Special units are ready for action, while representatives of Chechen diaspora try to carry dialogue with the terrorists.

03.05 MSK. Near to metro station “Proletarskaya,” several buses were brought in in case it is necessary to evacuate hostages from the building of the Theatre Center. The drivers of the buses said that they hope for good results from the negotiations with the terrorists. A RIA ‘Novosti’ correspondent reported that in case of an unhappy outcome, there are armoured vehicles waiting in the side streets.

03.14 MSK. One bus with released hostages drove off from the theatre building. Though, it was not clear whether they were newly released hostages or ones released earlier. The bus transported 25 people, mainly elderly, covered with towels. The bus was escorted by an ambulance vehicle.

03.20 MSK. The British Foreign Office reported that there are three British citizens among the hostages.

03.35 MSK. Evacuation of people living in nearby apartment buildings started.

03.34 MSK. Aslanbek Aslakhanov asked Moscow Chechens to come to the spot and to try to influence the terrorists. However, it was not clear what the response was.

03.44 MSK. Snipers started to occupy the roofs of nearby apartment buildings.

03.55 MSK. The ex-deputy secretary of Russian Security Council and exile oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, recommended to send Ivan Rybkin to negotiations with the terrorists. According to Berezovsky, this would allow the problem to be solved, because “Chechens trust Rybkin,” and “he has never deceived them” and “has always carried out a hard and straight policy.” “If he comes to the hall and says: I am responsible for the start of peace negotiations, I would give you a 100-percent guarantee that there will be no victims,” – Berezovsky said. The former Kremlin favorite seems to know what he is talking about: according to some experts, one of the masterminds of the terrorist acts may be Boris Berezovsky himself.

10:10 MSK. Inside the building of the Theatre Center, an explosion sounds. This was reported from the spot by an RIA ‘Novosti’ correspondent. At the same time, the correspondent noticed that it might not have been an explosion. At 09:10 MSK, in the area of the Theater Center, where 500 to 700 people are held by the terrorists, a sound could be heard very similar to an explosion. RTR-Vesti.Ru reported. Though, nobody could say with certainty that it was an explosion. According to the police, something very similar to an explosion was heard also at 05:00. PRAVDA.Ru