On 23 October 2002, a group of militants staged a terrorist attack on Dubrovka in Moscow

On 23 October 2002, at 21.15, armed militants in camouflage burst into the building of a theatre center on Dubrovka. At this time, the musical ‘Nord-OST’ was being performed in the Culture House. There were more than 700 people in the hall. The terrorists declared hostages all the people – the audience members and employees of the theatre – and began to mine the building.

At 22.00, it became known that the theater building was seized by a group of Chechen militants led by Movsar Barayev. Some of them were female terrorists wearing bomb vests.

The next day, at 19.00, the Qatari TV channel ‘Al Jazeera’ broadcast a message from Movsar Barayev’s militants, recorded a few days before the theatre seizure. The terrorists were declaring themselves suicide bombers and demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. From 19.00 until 00.00, unsuccessful attempts continued to persuade the militants to accept food and water for the hostages.

State Duma Deputy from Chechnya Aslambek Aslakhanov, Joseph Kobzon, British journalist Mark Franchetti and two Red Cross doctors took part in the negotiations. On 25 October, at 01.00, the terrorists let into the building the head of the Emergency Surgery and Trauma Department of the Center for Disaster Medicine, Leonid Roshal. He brought the hostages medical supplies and gave them first aid.

In the morning, a rally occurred near the cordon at the Culture House. The hostages’ relatives and friends demanded to fulfill all the terrorists’ requirements. At 15.00 in the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin held a meeting with the heads of the MIA and the FSB. Following the meeting, FSB Director Nikolai P. Patrushev said that the authorities were ready to save the terrorists’ lives if they released all the hostages.

On 26 October, at 05.30, three explosions and several machine-gun bursts were heard near the Culture House building. Around 06.00, special forces started their raid of the building, during which nerve gas was used. At 06.30 in the morning, an official representative of the FSB said that the theater was under the control of the special services. Movsar Barayev and most of the terrorists were destroyed. The number of neutralized terrorists in the building of the Culture House on Dubrovka amounted to 50 people –18 women and 32 men.

On 7 November 2002, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office published a list of citizens died of the terrorists’ actions who seized the Theater Center on Dubrovka. According to official data, 130 people were killed among the hostages, including 10 children.

On 28 October 2002, Day of Mourning in the Russian Federation for the victims of the terrorist action was declared.

On the first anniversary of that tragic event, a memorial ‘In Memory of the Victims of Terrorism’ was opened in front of the theater center on Dubrovka. In 2014, a memorial Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church was built on Melnikov street in Moscow.


Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova

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