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Russian Theatre Extravaganza...

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Chechens threaten to shoot hostages

NBC, MSNBC AND NEWS SERVICES

MOSCOW, Oct. 25 — Chechen rebels holding hundreds of hostages in a Moscow theater are threatening to shoot hostages at dawn on Saturday if their demands are not met, said a spokesman for the Russian command center and a spokeswoman for the theater on Friday. News of the threat comes after the hostages released eight children. The guerillas, who have demanded that Russian forces withdraw from their southern homeland, have freed at least 54 people and have killed one person since storming the popular theater during a show late Wednesday.

RUSSIAN SPOKESMAN Sergei Ignatchenko said authorities are weighing the level of seriousness of the latest threat, and added that “appropriate” steps will be taken.

A couple hours earlier, the eight children who were released, emerged from the theater accompanied by Red Cross representatives. Dressed in winter coats, one of them clutching a stuffed bear toy, they appeared to be between seven and 13 years old.

“The children were released without any conditions,” the Interfax news agency quoted Dmitry Rogozin, chairman of the Russian parliament’s international affairs committee, as saying.

FOREIGNERS TO BE RELEASED?

Hopes for a major break in the crisis rose Friday morning with the report that all the estimated 75 foreign hostages would be released, but officials said negotiations broke down and hours passed with no reported progress.

“We’re very concerned that no other hostages have been freed and that the terrorists are not prepared to discuss the release of other hostages,” U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said minutes after the children were freed.

Russian security officials told reporters they had met the conditions specified for the hostages’ release but that the captors had apparently changed their mind, MSNBC.com’s Preston Mendenhall reported from Moscow.

October 24 — In Moscow, a hostage crisis in the Russian capital has taken a deadly new turn. NBC’s Dawna Friesen reports.

Russia’s chief security official said Friday the lives of Chechen rebels will be guaranteed if they release their captives.

Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Federal Security Service, made the statement after a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Russian news agencies reported.

“We are conducting talks and will conduct talks, hoping that they will bring positive results in freeing the hostages,” Patrushev was quoted as saying by the Interfax agency.

Alexander Zharkov, head of the Russian Red Cross, said earlier that copies of the passports of some hostages were given to the gunmen.

The hostages include Americans, Britons, Dutch, Australians, Austrians and Germans, and embassies were requested to send representatives to the scene to meet their freed citizens, Federal Security Service spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko said.

Negotiations between foreign diplomats and the gunmen were on-again, off-again, but the details of the state of the talks remained confusing, MSNBC.com’s Mendenhall reported.

“The situation is very, very unclear,” German Ambassador Ernst-Jorg von Studnitz stressed during an interview with Mendenhall at the scene.

Seven Russian men and women released earlier Friday were receiving medical care, but Ignatchenko declined to say why they were chosen.

Three male captors appeared on NTV early Friday, wearing camouflage and carrying assault rifles. The one unmasked man was identified by NTV as the ringleader, Movsar Barayev, nephew of rebel warlord Arbi Barayev who reportedly died last year.

The network, whose crew was allowed to accompany a doctor inside the theater, also showed two female hostage-takers wearing head-to-toe robes that revealed only their eyes. Arabic script was printed on their hoods, they cradled pistols on their chests and wore what appeared to be explosives taped to their waists and wired to a small button they carried in their hands.

Actions outside of Chechnya linked to the conflict.

June 14, 1995

Chechen gunmen take 2,000 hostages at hospital

in southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk, near Chechnya. After failed attempts at force, Russia negotiates the hostages' release in exchange for gunmen's escape. More than 100 die.

Jan. 9, 1996

Chechen militants seize 3,000 hostages at

hospital in southern Russian town of Kizlyar. Rebels release most, then head for Chechnya with about 100 hostages. Rebels are stopped in village and attacked by Russian troops. At least 78 die in weeklong fight.

Jan. 16, 1996

Six Turks and three Chechens hold 255 hostages

on ferry in Black Sea, threatening to blow up ship if Russia doesn't halt battles in southern Russia. The rebels surrender after three days.

March 9, 1996

Turkish sympathizer hijacks jetliner flying out

of Cyprus to draw attention to situation in Chechnya. The sympathizer surrenders after plane lands in Munich, Germany.

Sept. 4, 1999

Bomb destroys a building housing Russian military

officers and families in Buinaksk in Russia's Dagestan region. Sixty-four die. Russian officials blame Chechen rebels, but never prove their involvement.

Sept. 9, 1999

Explosion wrecks a nine-story apartment building

in southeast Moscow, killing almost 100. Authorities suspect a Chechen bomb, although no evidence is ever provided to support the claim.

Sept. 13, 1999

A bomb destroys an apartment building in

southern Moscow, killing 70. Officials blame Chechens, but nobody is ever charged in the attack.

Sept. 16, 1999

Bombs shear off the front of a nine-story

apartment building in Volgodonsk, 500 miles south of Moscow. Nearly 20 are killed. Authorities again blame Chechens rebels, but nobody is charged.

April 22, 2001

Some 20 gunmen hold about 120 people for 12

hours at a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, to protest Russian actions in Chechnya. The rebels later surrender to police and release the hostages.

March 16, 2001

Three Chechens hijack a Russian airliner

leaving Istanbul and divert it to Saudi Arabia. Saudi forces storm plane, killing one hijacker and two hostages.

May 4, 2002

Lone gunman holds 13 people hostage at a hotel in

Istanbul to protest situation in Chechnya. The gunman surrenders after an hour.

The drama began Wednesday night when as many as 50 attackers, some of them women who claimed to be widows of Chechen insurgents, stormed the theater just before the second act of a popular musical.

The hostage killed by a gunshot to the chest, a woman about 20 years old, was the only known fatality of the crisis at the end of its second night. The rebels claimed she had been trying to move around inside the theater after the attackers carried out their raid, so they shot her dead. Unable to identify her, police were publicizing her description through Russian media.

Five hostages were released Thursday afternoon after a negotiating session between two Russian lawmakers and the rebels.

But shortly afterward rebels fired off two rounds from rocket-propelled grenade launchers at two other young women who jumped from theater windows and escaped.

BLOW TO PUTIN

President Vladimir Putin said the audacious raid was planned by terrorists based outside Russia.

The hostage-taking occurred less than three miles from the Kremlin and further undermined claims by Putin and other top Russian officials that the situation is under control in Chechnya, where Russian soldiers suffer casualties daily.

Putin described the hostage-taking as one of the largest terror attacks in history and claimed it was planned “in one of the foreign terrorist centers” that “made a plan and found the perpetrators.” He did not provide evidence the raid was organized abroad.

Chechnya is about 865 miles south of Moscow.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

Putin canceled his planned trip to a weekend summit of APEC countries in Mexico, where he was to have met on the sidelines with President Bush.

The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the raid, calling it a “heinous act” of international terrorism and a threat to peace and security. In a one-page resolution adopted unanimously, the council demanded the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

MESSAGE ON AL-JAZEERA

In a broadcast monitored in Cairo, Egypt, the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel aired a videotaped statement by one of the gunman from inside the theater.

“I swear by God we are more keen on dying than you are keen on living,” a black-clad male said in the broadcast. “Each one of us is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of God and the independence of Chechnya.”

This grab taken Thursday from Al-Jazeera TV shows a man reported to be one of the Chechen rebels holding hostages in a Moscow theater.

“We came to the Russian capital to stop the war or gain martyrdom, and our demands are stopping the war and the withdrawal of Russian troops,” one of the speakers said.

Al-Jazeera is known for having broadcast statements by Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida network. Russian and U.S. officials also have said some al-Qaida fighters may be in Chechnya.

TRYING TO MAINTAIN CALM

Dr. Leonid Roshal, head of the Medical Center for Catastrophes who was with the NTV crew, said the hostages were trying maintain a calm face and that only two or three were hysterical. He said he had treated the hostages for various minor ailments and left behind some medication before emerging from the theater without any hostages.

A hot water pipe burst overnight and was flooding the ground floor, Ignatchenko said, but the guerillas called it a “provocation” and no agreement had been reached on sending repairmen into the building.

Still, Ignatchenko said some of the hostages were starting to sympathize with their captors’ cause and calling relatives from mobile phones to ask them to stage anti-war demonstrations in Moscow.

A group of about 100 protesters arrived near the theater as dawn broke Friday carrying banners and chanting anti-war slogans, pushing against metal barriers police were using to close off the scene. Several said they were responding to requests to protest in calls from relatives.

CONDITIONS INSIDE WORSENING

One hostage said the situation inside the theater was tense and conditions were worsening. The captives had not received food or water and were using the theater’s orchestra pit as a toilet.

Friday afternoon, Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who has written extensively about Chechnya for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, spent about three hours in the theater and emerged to announce that the gunmen had agreed to accept a delivery of food and water.

‘They are standing over us with automatic rifles and are getting angrier.’

— ALINA VLASOVA

At a center set up nearby in the neighborhood to provide psychological counseling, distraught relatives tried to reach family members inside the building on mobile phones while snipers perched on rooftops and troops roamed the streets.

Alina Vlasova, 24, said her sister Marina was so upset when she called from inside the theater that she could barely speak. “They are standing over us with automatic rifles and are getting angrier,” Alina said her sister told her.

The head of Doctors Without Borders, Morten Rostrup, arrived in Moscow Friday after a demand by the hostage-takers, although the group said it wasn’t yet sure what role it would play in the crisis.

“There is a big bomb in the center of the hall. The stage is mined as well as all the passage ways,” theater spokeswoman Yelena Malyonkina said. “Fifteen guerrillas who are covered with explosives are on duty in the hall. They watch all possible directions from which a storming of the building may start.”

Russia’s Caucasus and surrounding regions have historically been a hotbed of wars and ethnic discontent. Here’s a look at troubles in Russia’s rumbling underbelly and the conflicts that could set the region alight:

Chechnya and Dagestan

After a spate of deadly apartment bombings in Moscow and southern Russia in 1999 -- and a short-lived Islamic insurgency into Dagestan -- the Kremlin flooded troops into Chechnya. The Russian military has tens of thousands of troops committed to beat back the Chechen rebels -- even though it lost a disastrous attempt to control the breakaway province during the 1994-95 Chechen war. Long dominated by Moscow, Chechens have a history of armed resistance. Chechnya’s 1991 declaration of independence is not recognized by Moscow.

Ingushetia

Chechnya’s impoverished neighboring Muslim region has better relations with Moscow but is still feeling the effects of the 1994-95 Chechen war. Tens of thousands of refugees still burden Ingush President Ruslan Aushev’s economy. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1810, the Ingush rose up against the czars in 1858. Soviet leaders joined Ingushetia and Chechnya in 1934. Both nationalities were deported to Central Asia by Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1944 and allowed to return only 13 years later. Thousands died from starvation and poor living conditions during their exile. Ingushetia, which "separated" from Chechnya when the rebel republic declared independence in 1991, barely managed to sidestep Moscow’s last war with Chechnya.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh

The Soviet Union annexed Armenia in 1922, the last in a string of bloody conquerors that ranged from imperial Russia to the Ottoman Turks. Over the last decade, Armenia has been at loggerheads with neighboring Azerbaijan over the disputed Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. Both countries, independent since the fall of the Soviet Union, claim the region, which declared independence from Azerbaijan. Over 16,000 died and one million were displaced by the resulting bloodshed. A 1994 cease-fire has brought little progress toward a final settlement. With Caspian Sea oil flowing, Azerbaijan’s economic prospects are looking up - giving it a future edge over impoverished Armenia.

Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Georgia has been colonized by the Greeks, conquered by the Ottoman Turks and ruled by the Soviets. Since it became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has been rocked by ethnic and territorial conflicts. Currently, 1,500 Russian "peacekeepers" occupy the breakaway Abkhazia region, where fighting between Georgian troops and separatists created tens of thousands of refugees. When the Soviet Union placed North Ossetia in Russia, it gave South Ossetia to Georgia, which in 1989 disbanded the republic - a move that led to three years of fighting. More than 5,000 deaths and over 40,000 refugees later, Russian troops are keeping a very tense peace in South Ossetia.

North Ossetia

Modern-day North Ossetians only make up about 50 percent of the territory, living with mainly Russians. The Ossetians fought bitterly against pro-Soviet forces during the 1917 socialist revolution. A more recent dispute between neighboring Ingush and Ossetians in 1992 over the Prigorodny district killed 583 and sent 60,000 refugees to Ingushetia. Ever since, 1,500 Russian troops have kept the peace in this Russian autonomous republic.

MSNBC.com’s Preston Mendenhall and NBC’s Judy Augsburger in Moscow, NBC’s Robert Windrem in New York, and The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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There is a reason why this is happening...Russia needs to withdraw their troops from Chechen land,and leave them the hell alone...they already kicked their asses in the first war in the 90's, no need to try to stir up trouble again...they need to cut their losses and accept the fact that the Chechens do not want to live under Russian rule.

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Originally posted by sassa

There is a reason why this is happening...Russia needs to withdraw their troops from Chechen land,and leave them the hell alone...they already kicked their asses in the first war in the 90's, no need to try to stir up trouble again...they need to cut their losses and accept the fact that the Chechens do not want to live under Russian rule.

There is no excuse for what those assholes are doing. If they go ahead with this, I will feel little sympathy for whatever happens to those people.

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Originally posted by dnice35

There is no excuse for what those assholes are doing. If they go ahead with this, I will feel little sympathy for whatever happens to those people.

since i am sure you don't know the history and problems of this region, i don't think your response is valid...

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lmao... what makes you say that??? do you know him personally??? do you know anything about that???

the same thing you pointed out in the "jackass" thread i made earlier is the same thing youre doing to him that i did to you... lol... double standards are a no no!!!

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:lol3::clap2:

Thank you dg

Sass are you pulling for the "little guy" again?

Lets face it what these animals are doing is wrong and you know this. Arent you the one who said life is priceless, but now these guys go in and threaten to slaughter 600 innocent civilians and you justify it. I can defenitly see the double standard here.....

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Originally posted by dnice35

:lol3::clap2:

Thank you dg

Sass are you pulling for the "little guy" again?

Lets face it what these animals are doing is wrong and you know this. Arent you the one who said life is priceless, but now these guys go in and threaten to slaughter 600 innocent civilians and you justify it. I can defenitly see the double standard here.....

this is bullshit.

I am not justifying their potentially slaughtering 600 civilians, but I am also not feeling so sympathetic for the Russian side either. They brought this upon themselves. Isn't this exactly your stance on the US-Iraq/Al-Qaeda issue? Aren't you the one always trying to justify the Americans bringing a senseless war into our history?

And dg..mind your own fucking business. His comments make it obvious he doesn't know much about Russian politics.

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Originally posted by sassa

this is bullshit.

I am not justifying their potentially slaughtering 600 civilians, but I am also not feeling so sympathetic for the Russian side either. They brought this upon themselves. Isn't this exactly your stance on the US-Iraq/Al-Qaeda issue? Aren't you the one always trying to justify the Americans bringing a senseless war into our history?

:confused: you threw me off here, first of all how is this similar to US-Iraq / Al Queda?

And dg..mind your own fucking business. His comments make it obvious he doesn't know much about Russian politics.

By the way where are your manners? :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by sassa

he doesn't know much about Russian politics.

i took Russian politics...and i dont understand this...dont the Chechens have "civilians" as hostages? Real good:rolleyes: ...real good "Freedom Fighters"....if wanna gain ur freedom, fight the Russians (as in the govt'), not its civilians...this act shows cowardice by the Chechen Rebels, sorry....Russians have been terrible, terrible to Chechens and even to its own citizens...as big a cliche' as this saying is: "Two wrongs dont make a right"...u wanna fight for ur freedom, i am all for it...fight the military or the Russian govt'...not UNARMED CIVILIANS....just my .02 cents

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Originally posted by mrmatas2277

i took Russian politics...and i dont understand this...dont the Chechens have "civilians" as hostages? Real good:rolleyes: ...real good "Freedom Fighters"....if wanna gain ur freedom, fight the Russians (as in the govt'), not its civilians...this act shows cowardice by the Chechen Rebels, sorry....Russians have been terrible, terrible to Chechens and even to its own citizens...as big a cliche' as this saying is: "Two wrongs dont make a right"...u wanna fight for ur freedom, i am all for it...fight the military or the Russian govt'...not UNARMED CIVILIANS....just my .02 cents

kudos MrMatas...........

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Originally posted by sassa

And dg..mind your own fucking business. His comments make it obvious he doesn't know much about Russian politics.

its obvious by your comments that youre all talk and no listen... dont you know its twice as important to listen than it is to speak... thats why GOD gave you two ears and one mouth... it seems from your posts that the only opinion,comment,or post that matters are your own... so before you jump to a snap judgement or any judgement for that matter... know who and what youre judging...

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sassa, seriously, shut the fuck up. there is no excuse for what these bastards are doing right now. just like there is no excuse for the brutality that the russians conduct their dirty war with. you are nothing but a fucking apologist. terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, i dont care what your ideological or social pretext is. and please dont try to pull a Chomsky on me with 'state terrorism' non sense. just because the russians behave like animals in that region, that does not give these fuckwits any legitimacy in blowing 500 people up. same case with palestinians.

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Originally posted by tribal

sassa, seriously, shut the fuck up. there is no excuse for what these bastards are doing right now. just like there is no excuse for the brutality that the russians conduct their dirty war with. you are nothing but a fucking apologist. terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, i dont care what your ideological or social pretext is. and please dont try to pull a Chomsky on me with 'state terrorism' non sense. just because the russians behave like animals in that region, that does not give these fuckwits any legitimacy in blowing 500 people up. same case with palestinians.

MAKE ME SHUT THE FUCK UP.

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