Yet More Questions Raised About 2002 Hostage Crisis

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 14

The Dubrovka hostage crisis of October 2002 is back in the news, in Russia and also in Germany, where state prosecutors are investigating evidence that the terrorists who planned that terrorist raid on a Moscow theater may have included a group of Chechens living temporarily in Dresden. According to an April 5 article by Yekaterina Blinova and Yevgeny Petrov in Nezavisimaya gazeta, the German authorities have found links between the Dubrovka hostage takers and Chechen athletes who had come to Germany to train and compete in karate.

Arousing special interest is the case of a 40-year-old from Grozny named Arbi D. (Nezavisimaya gazeta did not publish his full surname), who arrived in Germany in July of 2002. The ostensible purpose of his trip was to help the Russian karate team take part in a global karate tournament–and especially to escort his nephew, Arpi D., who had repeatedly won the world championship in that sport. Arbi reportedly was already suspected by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) of having organized several terrorist attacks, and the FSB is said to have informed the German authorities of this as early as March of 2002. But the Germans seem to have done little or nothing in response; the local police seem not to have even been informed of the shadowy Arbi’s background.

It was only some months after the Dubrovka episode that the German police looked into the list of international phone calls that Arbi had made from his Dresden hotel room. They then learned for the first time that the Chechen visitor had repeatedly phoned several apartments in Moscow. These were the same apartments, according to the Russian authorities, in which the hostage takers had planned their raid.

More aggressive than the Nezavisimaya gazeta article, both in its reporting and in its conclusions, was an article on the same subject published by That website gave the full name of the suspected terrorist–Arbi Daudov. It also suggested that the FSB “knew about the preparations to seize ‘Nord-Ost’ as early as the spring of 2002.” It cited reports in the German press that FSB representatives told German national security officials that “the Daudov brothers were taking part in planning a large scale terrorist attack in the city of Moscow.”

Members of the Daudov family are reportedly still living somewhere in Germany; if that country’s authorities succeed in tracking them down and questioning them in detail, more embarrassments for the FSB may lie ahead.

Meanwhile, some eighteen months after the fact, for the first time a high ranking Russian official has admitted that it was the Russian state, not the Chechen terrorists, that caused the deaths of the Dubrovka hostages. Vladimir Vasiliev, chairman of the Duma’s committee on security, said last week (as quoted by Nezavisimaya gazeta on April 5) that the immediate cause of death was the “failure to provide timely medical help.”