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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
In quotes: Moscow hostage crisis
Relatives of the hostages
People are desperate to hear from their relatives
On Wednesday evening, Chechen rebels stormed a Moscow theatre, taking staff, actors and audience hostage to demand an end to the conflict in their country.

John Leonard, brother-in-law of one of the hostages:

"[The rebels] haven't been deliberately malicious but there is a question of withholding food and water. Fortunately it is my understanding they have got medical supplies going in and out now so it's not too bad. There are questions about are they being kept together and being moved around as well."

UK journalist Mark Francetti, who entered the theatre on Thursday:

"[The rebels] are very bullish. They sound very very determined. They keep on saying that they have not time for negotiations. They have refused various attempts by the Russians several times and they keep on repeating the same thing, that they have come to Moscow to die if they need to and that they demand an end to the war in Chechnya and a phased withdrawal."

Abusaid, representative of the rebels, in a phone call to the BBC:

"We will start killing them, the people who are here. One by one we will kill them - all of them.

"We didn't come here to go home again, we came here to die. We are all suicide fighters.

"If [the Russian Government] acts quickly, we'll leave here quickly. If they don't stop the war and pull out their troops, we'll hold out here for a week. After a week goes past we'll blow up the whole theatre."

Natasha Musaveva, Chechen student in Moscow:

"I am afraid to go out now, because I don't want to go out now because I don't want to be assaulted by skinheads in the streets, or in the underground."

Russian President Vladimir Putin:

"These are the people who sowed death and destruction in the Chechen Republic itself and beyond its borders, and now wish to spread their wings further.

"We will not give in to provocations. The most important thing is to guarantee the safety of areas near the theatre, to help the hostages and to assist their relatives."

Former member of the Russian Security Council, Boris Berezovsky:

"We don't have any choice except to start peaceful negotiations and to withdraw our troops. And now I think (this is) the first time the president has faced reality, because people who are hostages today, they refer directly to the president and say: 'You are responsible for our lives'."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw:

"It's of extreme, paramount importance that all the actions that are taken are taken to ensure the safety of the hostages, and a peaceful outcome."

Official Chechen spokesman Salih Brandt:

"The Chechen Government, President Aslan Maskhadov and the military chief of staff Shamil Basayev, both categorically deny any knowledge of this event or any involvement with it."

Tatyana Solnyshkina, hostage, speaking by mobile phone:

"We are being treated very well. The only condition they are setting is that for every one of them who is killed they will immediately shoot 10 of us.

"Please do not storm the building, we beg of you... please."

Actress who escaped:

"The actors who had been preparing to enter the stage suddenly heard some rattling - then men in camouflage uniform showed up on the stage.

"We took advantage of a moment when the terrorists were distracted and tied some costumes together and came out through a window."

Hostage Maria Shkolnikova, reading a statement from the rebels:

"We are asking you to make a reasonable decision and end the war in Chechnya. Enough with wars, we want peace.

"Today, we are hanging between life and death. You have our lives on your conscience. Please find a peaceful solution or blood will be spilt."

Chechen MP in the Russian parliament, Aslanbek Aslakhanov:

"I would like to call on those who have taken the hostages, if they are listening, to think again. The Chechens will bear the very worst of the consequences."

Siege reports

Key stories

Chechen conflict



See also:

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