Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 32

On October 26, the website APN.ru wrote that it was not Putin but rather a high-ranking FSB official who took the actual decision to launch the assault on the theater: “The deputy minister of internal affairs of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vasil’ev,” the website revealed, “responding to questions from journalists, declared that the order to storm the theater on Mel’nikov Street had been given by the head of the operational headquarters–first deputy director of the FSB, Vladimir Pronichev.” The launching of the assault had been dictated by the “circumstances” taking place inside the theater itself. “Judging from everything,” APN.ru went on, “the nerves of the hostages themselves gave out, and they began to break through [trying to get out of the building], forcing special detachments of the FSB to come to their aid (The evening before a deputy of the State Duma, [retired] Colonel Viktor Alksnis told me that the taking of such a large number of hostages was an egregious mistake by the terrorists, because it is impossible to control such a crowd.).”