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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Distant war comes to Moscow
A released hostage (right) is comforted by police inside a police bus
Some Muscovites are simply scared to live in the capital
Russia is in a state of shock after Chechen rebels took up to 800 people hostage in a Moscow theatre.


I am scared! Scared to live, scared to have children

Nadezhda, Russian woman
The mood in the capital is a mixture of defiance, disbelief and fear that the rebels have struck in the heart of the country.

"I am just scared to go out anywhere because you can easily end up like those hostages," says Pete, a young Muscovite.

Irina, another resident, told the BBC Russian website: "The question is how will we now be able to live in Moscow?"

Suddenly, Muscovites have found themselves dragged into what had seemed for many a distant war in Chechnya.

'Let's just pray'

Russian media has been providing minute-by-minute coverage of the hostage crisis with TV channels showing pictures of special forces surrounding the building.

Relative of hostage
Relatives of hostages are waiting anxiously for news

Many channels have broadcast chilling messages from the hostages themselves, calling from their mobile phones.

"Some say Moscow is now the most dangerous city in Russia," says Pete.

"You cannot even safely eat a burger in McDonalds," he adds, referring to last week's blast at a fast-food restaurant that killed one person.

"It is hard to say anything in this situation. Let's just pray," says another Russian, Mikhail.

Scared capital

But some direct their anger at the security services, blaming them for their inability to prevent the raid.

Russian sniper outside theatre
Special forces have been deployed at the scene

"Security services must be working in a peculiar way if such a group of terrorists was allowed to travel around Moscow, " says Irina.

"What are the police doing and who is responsible for this?" asks another Russian woman, Nadezhda.

"I am scared! Scared to live, scared to have children," she adds.

Many Muscovites - outraged by the attack - urge the authorities to act ruthlessly, paying little or no attention to whether the rebels will be taken alive or dead.

But some also see the root of the problem is in the Russian military campaign in Chechnya, saying that "violence can only bring more violence".


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Chechen conflict

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19 Aug 02 | Europe
09 Sep 02 | Europe
27 Sep 02 | Europe
25 Jun 01 | Europe
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