Author`s name Michael Simpson

What is the Price of Life? - 28 February, 2003

It’s likely that we will soon have an answer to this rhetorical question. There is information saying that victims of the hostage crisis in the Moscow theatre in October 2002 appealed to Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and to the Finance Department in Moscow government and suggested for conclusion of an amicable treaty.   

In accordance with the Russian legislation, an amicable treaty is an agreement of both sides on cessation of a judicial dispute on the basis of mutual concessions. While concluding an amicable treaty, the parties can make provisions for redistribution of litigation costs and expenses connected with attorney assistance. 

As concerning people suffered as a result of the theatre hostage crisis in Moscow, the situation is as follows: “if the Moscow city administration and the Moscow Finance Department confirm their consent to conclude an amicable treaty, 37 suits of people suffered as a result of the hostage crisis, hearing of which is scheduled for March – April in Tverskoy court of Moscow, and 35 more suits that are to be registered soon, won’t be heard at all.” The information was provided by Igor Trunov, attorney defending the hostages.

Motives of the Moscow city administration are understandable more or less, it wishes to save the face and money, and position of former theatre hostages is even more clear. An amicable treaty will give up the proceedings for lost, there will be no longer a judicial precedent, which in its turn means that nobody will ever be able to appeal for compensation of moral damage in connection with situations similar to the hostage crisis in Moscow.

Did former Nord Ost hostages wish exactly this? Do hundreds of people suffered themselves or who lost relatives as a result of terrorist acts wish this result of the scandalous terrorism situation? The people cannot hope for justice in the country where even a war isn’t called by its name (an anti-terrorist operation), although much blood is shed in it. 

As for compensations to former theatre hostages, attorney Trunov thinks that in the network of the treaty the parties will have to ask specialists for a so-called “life cost estimate”. The expert will determine what damage was caused to people suffered in the act of terrorism. The sum of compensations must be calculated individually in each case, at that, incomes of family supporters who were killed in the crisis and spending on medical treatment after the hostage-taking must be taken into consideration.

So, you now probably understand who can give an answer to the rhetorical question. Each of us is sure to have an answer to the question. Someone will say that life is priceless, and someone will suppose the price is a bottle of vodka. Both are right and mistaken at the same time.

Yegor Belous

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