Archive | 20 years ago, a hostage crisis ended in tragedy in a Moscow theater

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Archives | 20 years ago, a hostage-taking ended in tragedy in a Moscow theater

October 23, 2002, a hostage-taking at the Dubrovka theater in Moscow ended a few days later with dozens of dead and injured.

On October 23, 2002, the eyes of the whole world were riveted on the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow, where a hostage taking took place. As our archives recall, the event ended in a bloodbath.

“It started as a simple evening at the theater . »

— Michel Cormier

Report by correspondent Michel Cormier on the first day of the hostage-taking in a Moscow theater

This sentence which introduces the report by Radio-Canada's Moscow correspondent broadcast on Téléjournal/Le Point on October 23, 2002 recalls the commotion created by the attack by an armed and masked commando on the Dubrovka theatre. p>

A musical comedy was being presented there and several of the hundreds of spectators present were children.

The attack provoked a commotion within police and tactical squads of the Russian army.

The attackers identify themselves as Chechens.

According to witnesses, some carry explosives and threaten to blow up the theater if the police intervene.

Throughout Russia, notes Michel Cormier, there is a feeling of disbelief.

How could a Chechen commando infiltrate a place in the heart of the Russian capital?

The Chechen conflict has for several years been one of the pet peeves that has irritated Russian power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called a urgently his ministers responsible for security.

How should he react to the commando's demand for an end to the war in Chechnya to free the hostages?

Initially, the Russian president seems conciliatory.

Report by journalist Catherine François on the link between the war in Chechnya and the hostage-taking at the theater in Moscow< /p>

What is referred to as the Chechen war, journalist Catherine François recalls in a report dated October 24, 2002, began in November 1991.

At that time, the small republic located in the Caucasus Mountains proclaims its independence from a moribund Soviet Union.

The Presidents of Russia, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, are trying, each in turn, to bring back the secessionist republic in the bosom of Russia.

The result is a war in several episodes during which the Russian army commits abuses of all kinds.

Horror stories are multiplying and Chechnya is in ruins, confirms Catherine François .

The situation is hopeless for the Chechen resistance.

This is all the more true since President Putin has succeeded in associating it with international terrorism in the eyes of the United States and the international community.

Brutalized by Moscow, ignored by the rest of the world, Chechen separatists decide to import terror into the heart of the Russian empire.

Report by correspondent Michel Cormier on the end of the Dubrovka Theater hostage-taking in Moscow.

At dawn on October 26, 2002, as correspondent Michel Cormier recalls in an account presented to the Téléjournal, the Russian special forces launched the assault to enter the Doubrovka theatre.

Josée Thibeault hosts the Téléjournal that day.

Michel Cormier confirms that the Chechens had started killing hostages.

The correspondent observes that the special forces are not doing the lace.

They asphyxiate and eliminate all rebels, women and men.

Several hostages were also killed during the confrontation.

Others, luckier, managed to get out of the theater but were however seriously injured.

Outside, families and relatives of the hostages are desperately looking for theirs in hospitals in the Moscow region.

Report by correspondent Michel Cormier on the national day of mourning and the aftermath of the hostage-taking at the Dubrovka theater in Moscow.

The next day, October 27, 2002, as the host of the TéléjournalStéphan Bureau points out, is a day of national mourning in Russia.

The report by correspondent Michel Cormier, presented that day on Téléjournal,shows the pain, but also the questioning, of the Russian people.

The faithful pray in the churches for the victims. A provisional assessment establishes the number of hostages killed at 117.

This figure will increase, as many hostages have been injured or are seriously ill after inhaling extremely poisonous gas.

Muscovites are struggling to get precise information on the fate of all the hostages. Who is alive? Who isn't anymore?

Some suspect that the government is hiding information and have questions.

What is the nature of the gas used by the special forces to dislodge the Chechen commando ?

Is it a legal gas? A chemical weapon prohibited by international conventions?

Even the medical personnel are unaware of this, which complicates, even renders ineffective, the care given to the sick ex-hostages.

L he other impact of the crisis is political.

The hostage-taking of the Dobrovka Theater strengthens the power of President Putin.

The crisis also strengthens his will to put an end to what he calls Chechen terrorism and to pursue the war with all the brutality necessary to win it.

< p class="e-p">Prospects for peace are dim around Russia at the end of 2002.

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