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-07 | | | | | | | | | | | | '14 |





Protesting for their lives








: Gazeta.Ru  

Eight children have been released from the Moscow theatre where a group of Chechen gunmen have been holding hundreds of people hostage since Wednesday evening. The rebels continue to insist on anti-war protests by relatives on Red Square. If their demand is ignored, they say they will start killing hostages. While the federal and city authorities mull the demand, the atmosphere near the theatre complex has been growing tense once again.


The eight children released by the rebels at noon on Friday were led from the building by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who earlier entered into talks with the rebels inside the building.Doctors said their health condition was satisfactory; though the children looked depressed and are worried about their parents who remained inside.

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.

The Moscow mayors spokesman Sergei Tsoi met them. He told them that the city authorities were ensuring the safety of the people near the theatre and that the protesters could move around the area but must not go through the police cordons. Shortly after the rally was shown on TV it stopped. The relatives then gathered at the crisis centre awaiting permission for a rally on Red Square.

There are reports that the Kremlin administration has gathered for a special session to examine the possibility of a Red Square demonstration. City government officials Alexander Muzykantskiy and Sergei Tsoi promised the relatives they would help in solving the problem.

As our Gazeta.Ru correspondent reports, the Federal Guard Service has sanctioned the rally, provided, however, that the number of participants does not exceed 20 people. Apparently, some 100 relatives of the hostages plan to take part in the protest action.

After the protest rally, the leader of the liberal Yabloko Party Grigory Yavlinsky is expected to once again visit the theatre and enter into negotiations with the rebels, Yavlinskys spokeswoman Yevgenia Dillendorf told Gazeta.Ru. However, she refused to specify what exactly the Yabloko leader was going to discuss with the gunmen.

Yavlinsky will probably try to persuade the rebels to release all the children left in the theatre hall. Leonid Roshal from the Centre for Disaster Medicine also expressed similar hopes after he visited hostages in the early hours of Friday.

According to Roshal, there are some 20-25 children aged 14-15 among the hostages. 3 of them are seriously ill. One girl suffers from epilepsy and another bronchitis. One boy has pneumonia.

''When I was in the hall, the terrorists refused to release them, saying that they can receive treatment on the spot,'' Roshal said, adding that later the rebels, nonetheless, agreed to set some of the children free. Speaking of the physical condition of the adult hostages, Roshal underscored that in general they are fine, especially given the conditions in which they are being held. About 700 hostages are sitting in chairs in the auditorium.

Roshal also reported that the terrorists have once again refused to receive foodstuffs for the hostages, saying that since they do not eat, the hostages would not either. The hostages asked the doctor to send in medicines.

''We have compiled a list and the crisis centre has gathered two boxes of medicines,'' Roshal told the press. The medicines have already been handed over to the hostages.

According to Roshal, there are no wounded among the hostages, except for one young man aged about 20, wounded in the shoulder by splinters of glass. Roshal added that one of the terrorists who suffered a hand wound had received treatment. He hurt himself by accident, the doctor said.

According to the doctor, there is a teenager in the hall suffering acute stomach pains. But, he said, there are doctors among the people held hostage, and they are monitoring his condition.

25 16:19
































    



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