Probe of Dubrovka Theater Siege Suspended

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 23

The Moscow prosecutor’s office suspended its investigation into the seizure of hostages by Chechen militants at Moscow’s Dubrovka theater in October 2002, Interfax reported on June 1. “We have received a resolution from the investigator for cases of special importance at the Moscow prosecutor’s office that investigations into this case have been suspended because the location of the accused cannot be established,” said Igor Trunov, a lawyer representing the relatives of hostages. According to Trunov, the resolution states that Derikhan Bakhaev and Khasan Zakaev are wanted in connection with the case, but that an order to prosecute Zakaev was dropped due to his death in September 2006. “It is said that he died in the village of Ekazhi, together with other unidentified people, when an explosive device they were transporting in their car went off,” Trunov said. He also quoted the resolution as stating that the investigators have established that the terrorists “selected and recruited 52 people to carry out the terrorist attack”—meaning the hostage-taking at the Dubrovka theater—but that only 40 of them were killed. “From these numbers we can see that 12 people got away,” Trunov said. “Two are wanted and ten of them are in unknown locations.” Trunov claimed he would appeal the probe’s suspension. “Of course, we do not agree with this resolution, because we believe that, in essence, no investigation has been carried out.”

The Moscow prosecutor’s office resolution suspending the Dubrovka theater siege probe also raises doubts that the hostage-taking’s mastermind, Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev, was killed in July 2006 as the result of a Russian special operation, Kommersant reported on June 2. According to Trunov, the resolution states that Basaev, together with persons whose identities have not been established, died as the result of an accidental “detonation of an explosive device” as it was being transported in an automobile in Ingushetia.