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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Press gloom on theatre siege

One year after the Dubrovka theatre siege in Moscow, the Russian press is pondering the aftermath of the tragedy.

Woman mourning at memorial service for Dubrovka victims
A memorial service will be held on Sunday

Some papers question the official secrecy still surrounding the attack, in which more than 100 people died after the authorities used poison gas to flush out Chechen hostage-takers.

Others ask whether another terrorist outrage is just a matter of time.

And many are angry that one year on, it is still unclear how the tragedy was allowed to happen in the first place.

On Sunday, relatives and friends of the dead hostages will gather at the theatre in Dubrovka. They will honour the memory of their loved ones with a minute's silence, lay flowers at the commemorative wall and disperse in silence. For many of them, the difficult times go on - lawsuits with the authorities which allowed the tragedy to happen and which are stubbornly refusing to take responsibility for this tragedy.

Novyye Izvestiya

The year that has passed... still hasn't provided answers to many questions which this act of terrorism raised for Russian society and the Russian state...

It can't be normal that, after a tragedy on this sort of scale, we still haven't found out:

  • 1) how were such a large number of rebels able to gather in Moscow and seize the building, and whose fault was it?
  • 2) why did so many people die as the hostages were being freed, and whose fault was it?
  • 3) what was the specific location of the centre which decided to carry out the act of terrorism, and who belonged to this centre?

And, does this centre, incidentally, continue to exist, and are the people who gave the order for this act of terrorism still operating?

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Even now, no-one can give any precise figures. None. The number of hostages, for example, or the number of terrorists, how many people survived, how many died and how many were identified.

Do you know how many hostages there were? Over 900. Not 901 or 967, but exactly that - "over 900". It's the same with survivors - "over 750", with 129 dead...

But the most savage thing is that, according to various estimates, around 70 people are listed as missing without trace. How could it be that, in a structurally intact theatre complex in the centre of Moscow, over the course of 12 months, the exact number of people who had been inside couldn't be counted?

Moskovskaya Pravda

Passions seem to have subsided over the past year. Busy with their daily lives, people have forgotten that we still don't know the names of the people responsible for the death of the dozens of victims who did not receive medical treatment in time.

Moscow's prosecutors have dropped the investigation because the 41 terrorists are dead. Law-enforcement agencies were searching for accomplices, they have questioned over 1,000 people, but they haven't actually found anyone. And the only time we remember about the victims of the tragedy is when we hear news of the suit for damages against the Moscow authorities.

Argumenty i Fakty

To my great regret, [another attack] is not just possible - it is already happening. Chechnya is also a part of Russia. And the scale of the events there is the same, take the explosion at the Mozdok hospital, for example. These are terrorist acts which kill dozens and hundreds of people, and threaten thousands.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, comment by Duma deputy Boris Nadezhdin

The tragedy at the Dubrovka could have become the very issue to unite the whole of society. It hasn't. The people who were killed, those who survived and those who rescued them could have become heroes. They haven't. Some of them were honoured. We don't know who. We're not supposed to know. It's secret information. That's the response of the Kremlin.


BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Moscow remembers theatre siege
23 Oct 03  |  Europe
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22 Jul 03  |  Europe
Foreign hostages sue Russia
11 Jun 03  |  Europe
Theatre honours hostage victims
10 Nov 02  |  Europe

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