City Denies Responsibility at Dubrovka
A Moscow city official said Wednesday that the municipal government would not take any responsibility for damages suffered by people who were taken hostage in the Dubrovka theater or by their survivors.
Sixty-one victims of the Oct. 23-26 theater siege have filed suit for nearly $60 million, an unprecedented damage award in Russia, The Tverskoi court is considering the suit filed by the first 24 plaintiffs.
"Our position proceeds from the fact that federal law does not foresee the obligation to pay moral damages in such situations," Andrei Rastorguyev, a Moscow legaladviser, told reports outside the court Wednesday. "The Moscow government and other city agencies did not perform any acts that could have caused moral and physical suffering. "In the given situation, unfortunately from a purely juridical point of view, the answer is well-known: The terrorists must answer for it."
The plaintiffs lawyer, Igor Trunov, has based the suit on the anti-terrorism law, which he says stipulates that tne region wnere a terrorist attack occurs is obliged to pay damages to the victims.
In their testimony so far, several plaintiffs have criticized the organization of the victims evacuation and their medical treatment, echoing the conclusions of a liberal party commission that accused officials of negligence.
Rastorguyev told the court that the city government "fully denies responsibility, because it did not give any instructions on aiding the victims including on transporting them to hospitals," Itar-Tass reported.
On Tuesday, the court rejected a motion to unite all of the claims into one lawsuit and a request to introduce video and audio recordings from the siege into evidence.
Trunov said the recordings were a videotape taken from inside the theater during the siege and an audiotape of interviews with some of the hostages from Ekho Moskvy radio.
The hostage crisis ended with special forces storming the building, killing all 41 Chechen hostage-takers, who said they were trying to dramatize their demands for an end to the war in Chechnya.
Of the approximately 800 people in the theater, 129 died, the vast majority from the effects of a narcotic gas used to incapacitate the militants.