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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Money for theatre siege widow

By Damian Grammaticas
BBC correspondent in Moscow

Hostages lying in front of Moscow theatre
Most hostages died of gas poisoning

A court in Russia has ordered Moscow's city government to pay damages to the wife of a man who died after Chechen separatists took hundreds of theatregoers hostage last year.

It is believed to be the first time a Russian court has made such an award.

More than 100 people were killed when Russian special forces pumped the theatre full of gas in an attempt to free the hostages.

A lawyer acting for many of the families seeking compensation from Russia's authorities, following their disastrous attempt to end the siege at the Nord-Ost theatre last October, said the judgement was a landmark decision.

'No precedent?'

Most of the dead theatregoers were killed by the powerful narcotic gas, which was used to overwhelm the Chechen guerrillas who were holding them hostage.

Tatiana Khazieva brought her case for financial damages because her husband, the family's main breadwinner, died in the siege.

Moscow's city government must now pay $200 a month to Mrs Khazieva and the same amount to her daughter.

In total, the family will receive $50,000 in compensation.

Igor Trunov, the lawyer bringing claims for another 60 families, said it was the first successful case under a law making local authorities accountable for "terrorist acts" committed on their territory.

However, most of the other claims being brought against Moscow's government are from families claiming compensation for moral suffering after losing loved ones - not financial loss.

So Mrs Khazieva's victory may not help serve as a precedent in their cases.

Foreign hostages sue Russia
11 Jun 03  |  Europe
How special forces ended siege
29 Oct 02  |  Europe

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