Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 39

A coalition of Russian human rights organizations, led by well-known activist Lev Ponomarev, has announced that it intends to file charges with the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian authorities for their gross neglect of the lives of the hostages seized in the Moscow theater crisis a year ago. The activists are especially outraged by President Putin’s statement, in a September 20 interview with American journalists, that the narcotic gas used by the Russian security agencies could not have caused any of the hostage deaths because it was “harmless.”

The human rights activists demand in particular to know why it is that the rescuers and physicians who treated the unconscious hostages were never told what kind of gas had been used or what antidotes might be most effective.

Meanwhile, an October 22 commentary by Vladimir Temny for the website makes the following observation: “The main feature of the anniversary of the ‘Nord-Ost’ affair is this: Our president has definitively decided for himself that in today’s Russia it is easy and even pleasant to lie. It used to be that lying required precise techniques: Constant soundings of public opinion, the casuistry of Kremlin analysts. Now the head of the state can look us all straight in the eyes and tell us obvious lies–and know that these lies will not hurt him in the least.”