Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 32

Russian security officials, on the other hand, strongly defended their use of the yet unidentified “special gas.” The gas, Deputy MVD Minister Vladimir Vasil’ev emphasized, “allowed us to neutralize the terrorists who were holding their fingers on the triggers of the bombs” (New York Times, October 27). A source in the Al’fa special forces unit which assaulted the theater told Moskovsky Komsomolets: “Sleeping gas was let in through the ventilation, and several grenades were thrown into the a hall. The main thing was that we succeeded in liquidating the [women] suicide-fighters. Through specially made crawl-holes, our fighters simply entered the hall and shot the sleeping terrorists in the temple. I understand that that sounds harsh, but when a person is carrying two kilograms of plastic explosives, we saw no other way of rendering her harmless” (, October 26 [NTV]).