Chechen Hostage Tragedy

I received a note from Oleg Avchenko, our egg host in Vladivostok, on October 25. It was short, but I knew what it meant:

"Dear Roger! Now we have probably maximum (pike) of tragedy."

Two days later, the Russian hostage crisis where Chechen rebels were holding over 700 people in a theater was violently resolved when government officials stormed the building after pumping poison gas into it. Sadly, about 120 of the hostages died from the effects of the gas, and another 150 are described as in critical condition. The rebels killed two people, and all 50 of them were killed in the attack. Oleg provided timing details adequate for a GCP prediction:

Dear Roger! The big request to make the analysis of data EGGs for October, 26 2002 during time from 3.00 till 5.00 GMT (6 to 8 in Moscow). Storm of a building of theatre began at 3.30 GMT (6:30) and it proceeded approximately 1.00. After storm, near 5.00 GMT (8:00) the TV has informed about clearing hostages. The peak or a maximum of tragedy, in my opinion was near 4.00 GMT (7:00 in Moscow).

Later, Oleg wrote to say the storming of the building actually began earlier, at about 02:30 (5:30 Moscow). The formal prediction was for deviation during the period from 02:30 to 05:00 GMT (5:30 to 8:00 Moscow) on October 26. The following figure shows the result, which has no overall trend, with chi-square 9020.1 on 9000 df, for p = 0.439. The figure is, however, a virtually direct visualization of Oleg's comments, with a powerful trend beginning at about 6:30, marked as the "First Entry", and culminating in a maximum departure around the time Oleg believes was the peak of the tragedy.

Following the figure is part of a report from the scene.

Chechen Hostage Tragedy

The following is an extract from a longer description. Moscow time is 3 hours ahead of GMT, so 6:35 in the report corresponds to 3:35 GMT:

Coverage of the storm of the theatre: the exact number of victims, the reaction of the relatives, who was the first to open fire, unknown victims among the fighters of the Interior forces, the line of corpses at the main entrance, the dead are being taken away and passed for wounded, the deathly gas.

By Irina Borogan, Andrey Soldatov


6.35 A group of about 6-8 fighters of the Interior forces are running across the square towards the building.

They run up to the main entrance and with the help of their legs and guns begin to break the glass. They manage to enter the building.

In the meantime the square is being filled up by military machines and ambulances. A minute later they are joined by the armored carrier which had been waiting on the corner of the 1st Dubrovaskaia and Melnikov streets. It stops about 120 metres away from the theatre entrance. We can hear 2 shots fired inside the building. They are answered by ....from the armoured carrier.

We can see the fighters of the "spetsnaz" come out leading first one woman, and then another one.

All of a sudden the inside the building is lighted up and we can hear bursts of gun-fire. About 10 ...

are hiding in the grass to the right of the building (right below our windows). With the help of our binoculars we can see another group of fighters being placed at the same time to the left of the theatre.

At about the same time we hear 2 explosions inside the building, accompanied by a white light. These must have been grenades. After that the groups placed all around the parking-place, all run across the square in the direction of the main entrance.

6.40 3 explosions one after another inside the building, accompanied by a red light. Followed by bursts.

6.45 A small group of the special forces carrying a lantern sets out across the hall of the ground floor in the direction of the wing of the building where there is a library.

6.47 At 3 points inside they are beginning to break the windows and cut the poster with the enormous letters "Nord-Ost", which covered the glass walls of the entrance hall of the 1st floor.

6.50 Someone is being dragged out of the main entrance. A few seconds later we can see (right under our windows) 2 fighters carrying a young man dressed in a gray sweater. We can't understand whether it is a disguised terrorist or a journalist found on the spot of the operation. A stretcher appears at the main entrance and a woman is being accompanied out of the building. Judging by the sounds, the shooting goes on at the back side of the theatre, where 3 back-entrances are situated. A man is being dragged out the building - it must be a terrorist. After that the fighters come out with 3 men, trying to cover them. Everywhere glass is being shattered. Probably that is meant to prevent fragmentation shell wounds if the terrorists carry out the promise to blow themselves up.

7.00 the doors of the main entrance are thrust wide open. 3 "Defender" jeeps are being driven up to the building. Empty buses are moving along Melnikov street right below our windows. In front of the main entrance there are now dozens of people, shouts like "come on!" are coming from all around. A woman hostage can be seen almost creeping out of the building. Someone else can hardly walk. A body is carried out; followed by another one. (4.00 GMT!!! - my remark - Oleg Avchenko)_

7.03 Shooting can be heard. At the same time a group of people is being accompanied out of the building. A girl is being carried out. Then a few bodies.

7.06 Bodies are still being carried out: now not only by fighters of the special forces but also by rescue forces (in white helmets). They are being placed in a line right in front of the main entrance of the theatre. Now there are over 20 of them. We begin to get very much alarmed: judging by their clothes (and because they being carried mostly across the shoulder) they are mainly women, or even young girls. Thank God, they finally lead out someone alive. A few ambulances packed with the wounded leave the square.

4 buses stop to the right of the building; we can clearly see them from our windows. In the meantime to the left of the main entrance they go on throwing down bodies; the amount corpses keeps increasing extremely rapidly. A few minutes later they occupy the whole area: all the steps on the left are covered with multicolor sweaters which were worn by the hostages. We get scared: only 3 days before these women dressed up in order to look well at the theatre.

There isn't enough room, and the corpses are now thrown one over another.

The first bus with the liberated hostages on board leaves from the entrance area. They owner of the flat that we find ourselves in, draws our attention to the fact that all the hostages look strange: as oif they were asleep. A few minutes some rags are carried out of the building (they might be table cloths or curtains) and thrown over the bodies.

There is no hope left that among those bodies there could still be someone wounded.

Judging by the length of the row of dead bodies, there is more than a 100 of them.

Another bus leaves.

Soon we hear on TV that a certain Member of staff reports of the successful conclusion of the operation: the hostages are liberated, the terrorists are killed (only some of them escaped). No a single mentioning of the victims. At the moment 2 more bodies are being carried out of the building.


GCP Home