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Anger Grows Over Gas Tactics

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Anger grows over gas tactics

Monday, October 28, 2002 Posted: 6:30 PM EST (2330 GMT)

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Calls are growing in Russia for an investigation into why doctors were not provided an antidote to the gas used during an operation to free hostages held at a Moscow theatre.

Captors demanding an end to the war in Chechnya held about 800 hostages for 58 hours, killing two before Russian forces stormed the building early on Saturday.

Moscow's chief doctor said 115 hostages died from health problems stemming from the "knockout" gas pumped into the building to subdue the Chechen rebels just before the raid.

Alexei Arbatov, head of the Russian parliament's defence committee, told CNN: "I blame the authorities for not providing the doctors with antidotes and instructions on how to use them.

"That was certainly a great blunder, and many people are paying for that blunder with their health -- and some even with their life," he said.

Because Russian authorities refused to tell doctors what was used, doctors spent the first few hours testing various antidotes before they found something that worked. The situation has angered doctors and the public.

About 400 people remained hospitalised on Monday.

Anguished relatives have descended on Moscow hospitals, begging for news of their kin, while others have been scouring the city morgues.

Tatiana Lukashova's 26-year-old daughter, Masha Panova, was a hostage and is now missing.

Lukashova saw a broadcast on the ORT television station Saturday that showed her daughter lying on a mattress in a hospital corridor with an oxygen mask on.

"But we didn't hear what hospital it was, and our search through all the hospitals was in vain," Lukashova told Reuters.

One doctor expressed frustration at being powerless to help survivors. "I saw no gunshot wounds at all. Those who died had swallowed their vomit or their tongue or their hearts had stopped," he told the Nezavisimaya Gazet daily.

"If only we had known beforehand. If they had told us that... it might have been a bit different."

U.S. officials believe the gas may have contained a chemical building block also found in heroin or morphine-based agents.

"Certainly there was a huge overdose because those who used it had to guarantee that even the terrorists sitting away from ventilation hatches would not have a chance to activate and explode the devices that they had," Arbatov said.

Medical officials pointed out that the hostages had been without food and drink for almost three days, and were virtually motionless in their chairs -- making them more vulnerable to the side effects of any gas used.

"All [this] took the toll on their physical and mental condition and clearly made them much more vulnerable to the agent," Arbatov said.

Survivor Andrei Naumov told CNN: "The gas used was without smell or taste and was invisible. Soon after it was pumped in, I lay on the floor and remember nothing after that -- I woke up in hospital.

"I think the terrorists were really serious about killing us. They knew they could not get away and they wanted to kill all the hostages.

"I will always remember that day, and always the remember the people who saved us. I thank them."

Moscow declared a day of mourning Monday, and President Vladimir Putin expressed his sorrow over the hostage deaths.

"We must remember those by uniting," he said.

But he also issued a defiant message to any others considering launching a similar action in Russia, telling government members: "International terrorism is increasingly cruel... if anyone tries to apply such means to our country, Russia will reply with measures adequate to the threats in all the locations of the terrorists, their organisations or their ideological and financial instigators."

--Correspondent Mike Hanna and State Department producer Elise Labotte contributed to this report.

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Originally posted by dnice35

The Rusians have gone and done it this time.......

Yup, you're right. Even Amnesty International is getting involved:


Amnesty International publishes report on human rights violations in Russia

Associated Press

Tuesday, October 29, 2002


MOSCOW - Amnesty International launched a campaign Tuesday to highlight a ``climate of impunity'' for human rights violations in Russia and urged President Vladimir Putin not to use the war on terrorism to further abuses.

Amnesty said that last week's raid on a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels, which resulted in the deaths of 50 hostage-takers and at least 118 of their captives, was a ``terrifying reminder of the unsolved situation in Chechnya.''

While it condemned the attack, Amnesty said the raid grew out of a conflict ``which has led to huge human suffering of all those involved.''

But the human rights problem in Russia goes beyond Chechnya, the group said.

``When people around the world think about human rights abuses in Russia, they think about (the war in) Chechnya,'' said Irene Khan, the organization's secretary general, in a press statement. ``But what is much less known is that the same climate of impunity which has marked the Chechen situation unfortunately permeates the entire criminal justice system of Russia.''

The rights group called for Russia to implement legislation that treats domestic violence as a crime, to set up an independent group to investigate allegations of torture and to end the registration system that is used to discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Russian forces withdrew from Chechnya in 1996 after rebels fought them to a standstill in a 2 1/2-year war that left the separatists in charge. The Kremlin sent the military in again in September 1999, following rebel incursions into Dagestan and after a series of deadly bombings of Moscow apartment buildings that were blamed on Chechen rebels.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Gas Russia used in hostage siege was fentanyl, U.S. officials say


Associated Press

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

WASHINGTON - The gas Russian authorities used at the end of a Moscow hostage crisis, which killed 116 of the captives, was the anesthesia fentanyl or another drug related to it, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

In Moscow, U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow offered the first official American criticism of the Russians' continued refusal to identify the substance used.

``It's clear that perhaps with a little more information, at least a few more of the hostages may have survived,'' Vershbow said.

Russian authorities pumped the gas into a theater where separatist rebels were holding more than 800 people hostage Saturday. The gas killed 116 hostages; 50 hostage-takers also died, many from gunshot wounds.

Relatives of Oklahoman Sandy Booker, 49, said Russian authorities notified them Tuesday that Booker was among the dead.

Based on reports from doctors who visited some of the American hostages, U.S. officials believe the gas was an opiate - a drug related to morphine and heroin, Vershbow said. Other U.S. officials identified the drug as fentanyl, commonly used in anesthesia and to relieve severe pain.

Fentanyl is a fast-acting narcotic that in large doses can shut down breathing and cause death from lack of oxygen. A hundred times more potent than morphine, fentanyl also has been abused for the highs it produces.

The effects of opiates like fentanyl can be reversed with the drug naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan. U.S. officials say some of the hostages responded to doses of Narcan, which bolstered the belief that the Russians used an opiate to knock out the hostage-takers and their captives.

Fentanyl was among drugs that Pennsylvania State University researchers suggested two years ago the U.S. military explore as weapons to subdue angry mobs. The Pentagon has put such research on hold, however, because of worries that it would violate the international ban on chemical weapons.

Whether Russia's use of the gas in the hostage situation would violate the treaty is unclear, since the pact allows for the use of chemical agents for law enforcement purposes.

At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer avoided criticizing the Russian government's response to the hostage crisis.

``The president feels very strongly that responsibility for this rests with the terrorists who took these people hostage and put them in harm's way in the first place,'' Fleischer said.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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