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Sound turned down on theatre terrorists

NTV exclusive

: Gazeta.Ru  NTV exclusive

Chechen gunmen, who have been holding hundreds of hostages in a Moscow theatre for nearly two days, invited an NTV television crew into the theatre building and allowed the channels cameraman to film them in the theatre's kitchen. Leonid Roshal of the Centre for Disaster Medicine, who was with the film crew, said there is hope that the gunmen may release all the remaining children. At noon on Friday 8 children were released.

At around 0300 on Friday a group of NTV reporters and a cameraman entered the building that has transfixed the entire country. The rebel leader Movsar Barayev granted reporters a short interview. He confirmed that his gunmen were anticipating a storming of the building and that they were ready for such a development.

Barayev also refuted the assumptions of some politicians who claimed that the attack had been planned abroad. According to him, Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov, two rebel leaders, organized the operation.

Barayev claimed the Chechens had long been preparing to take hostages, visiting performances of Nord-Ost on a number of occasions. The ringleader admitted that he had planned several other terrorist attacks, which were supposed to be carried out simultaneously with the attack on the theatre, but had not been able to do so.

However, neither Barayevs interview, nor the words of the six female hostages with whom the terrorists allowed reporters to converse, went on air. The viewers could see the footage but could not hear their voices. Barayevs words were related by the news presenter. The Ekho Moskvy radio station has learnt that the Press Ministry banned NTV from broadcasting Barayevs voice. Under Russias media laws it is prohibited to give terrorists a platform to voice their views.

The hostages, who use their mobile phones to keep in touch with the press and relatives, said they were very deeply concerned over that ban. One of them, Anna Andrianova, in a live interview carried by Ekho Moskvy, said that the hostages had waited for Barayevs interview broadcast as eagerly as the terrorists themselves.

''We are afraid in case there is some disinformation, and we want our requests and demands to the countrys leaders to be heard by them and by the people,'' the hostage emphasized.

''We confirmed [in an interview with NTV], that everythings fine with them [hostages], that we have written a letter to the president at our own initiative and now await the governments decision on the issue forthwith, and also beg the authorities not to take any forced actions,'' Adrianova told Ekho Moskvy.

''Unfortunately, NTV showed only the pictures,'' she added. ''We are alive and well, we have heating and water, and what else does one need when such thoughts are in ones mind.''

Though Barayevs voice was not broadcast, his statement has already evoked a response from officials. Moscows mayor Yuri Luzhkov promised that there would be no storming of the building. He said that the headquarters in charge of handling the crisis would do everything possible to negotiate a peaceful release for all the hostages.

The head of the Centre for Disaster Medicine Leonid Roshal, who visited the theater building together with NTV reporters and was even allowed into the actual theatre hall, expressed hope that the rebels would at least release the children. At noon, several hours after his visit, 8 children walked free with International Red Cross negotiators.

25 15:17


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