Russian Deputies in Parliament: In the End We Were Hostages
Rebels tell of being uninformed by their leaders and intimidated by armed radicals
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Shooting broke out as the Mayor's office was attacked, while buses appeared out of nowhere to take the mob to assault the television center. ``It was sheer madness,'' says Rybkin. ``Everything started moving as if in a kaliedoscope.''Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Mikhailov offers several conspiracy theories, all aimed at proving that the government had provoked the violence. But he also says that Mr. Rutskoi was out of control. ``I've known Rutskoi for a long time,'' he says. ``He is a very emotional person. He can't control his emotions and after two weeks of such stress....''
Some deputies left the building but others stayed, out of loyalty rather than good sense, they admit. ``During the night, [fellow deputy Vladimir] Ispravnikov told me it would be better to leave,'' Rybkin says. ``But how could I leave? My committee was without any leadership. I was the eldest with a bunch of young deputies, practically boys. How could I leave them alone? But if everyone had left, maybe we could have avoided this.''
So they sat in the dark as the bullets flew. Finally around 3 p.m., the so-called White House Security Minister, Viktor Barrannikov, showed up in the hall with two military men, one of whom was the commander of the Alpha group, the commando unit leading the assault. ``When he said he came to help us,'' one deputy recalls, ``people started to applaud.''
The Alpha commander told the deputies they would be taken to the nearest Metro station and released. But the final stage of their ordeal was in many cases far from easy. The staff members, including some of the remaining members of the parliament's official police guard, were sent out first in two groups. The deputies were held in at least two groups for a couple of hours, awaiting buses that the commandos said were blocked by gunfire from reaching the building.
Rybkin was lucky. His group of 60 exited, with Spetsnaz special forces troops guarding them, from the side of the building facing the US Embassy. Dodging fire, they were escorted up the side street, to a cinema building and released.
Both Mikhailov and his colleague were with the majority of deputies at the front of the building. In darkness and under chaotic automatic-weapons fire, many of them were led on foot into a nearby building. Special police troops, the OMON, met them, searching them roughly. Some deputies were manhandled, but the harshest beatings were reserved for the Army officers and others who had joined the White House defense.
``They were angry,'' says one deputy describing their captors. ``They cursed us. They said the blood of their comrades was on our hands.'' Once they were in the hands of the regular police at a nearby station, they were treated well, says the anonymous deputy, who was released the next day.
Mikhailov somehow managed to hide in a cellar in the confusion. After an hour, his briefcase in hand, he walked calmly down the embankment of the Moscow River, and took a train home to his Moscow apartment. ``I was very lucky,'' he says simply.