Later, so many people were demanding to visit the restroom that the attackers ordered them to use the orchestra pit instead. The stench slowly made its way through the theater, Gubareva said, but a broken window in the foyer provided some relief.
The captors freed 15 children under the age of 12 in the first hours of the siege, but Sasha, at 13, was too old. The girl soon grew hungry and thirsty, Gubareva said. The attackers brought some food from the theater snack bars and distributed it among the hostages. They also brought along a box of cash and asked the hostages, “Who needs money?”
“We all remained silent, and they threw the box on the floor,” Gubareva said.
She said she later saw the money in the orchestra pit, used and discarded as toilet paper.
Gubareva said she was too scared to eat but was very thirsty. Bottles of Fanta, Cola-Cola and mineral water from the snack bars ran out quickly, and hostages were offered tap water from the restroom.
The problem was solved on the third day, Oct. 25, when investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya convinced the attackers to allow the delivery of water canisters, Gubareva said. Politkovskaya, who was murdered last year, had rushed to Moscow from an awards ceremony in Los Angeles when the captors indicated that they would like her to act as a mediator.
In the theater, all the hostages avoided sitting next to an enormous bomb placed in the ninth row, leaving a large circle of empty seats around it, Gubareva said. A female suicide bomber told Gubareva that it was “stupid behavior.”
“The bomb will not hurt some people more than others. There’s enough here to destroy three buildings.” she said.
Gubareva said she saw a mother with children in the theater’s balcony. The children were released, but the mother was told to stay. “I saw her crying and begging Barayev: “Yassir, they are little. They do not know their way in the city, and they will get lost.”
The hostages addressed Barayev as “Yassir,” a polite form of address, after hearing the other captors address him this way, Gubareva said.
Barayev finally let the woman leave with her children, she said.
The captors did not allow loud conversation or movements around the hall, so the theater was eerily quiet except for the shooting, she said. The Chechens shot at the doorways every time they heard a rustle outside. At one point, a young man near the back row got up and started to jump over the backs of the seats, and shots were fired directly into the hall, wounding a woman.
Her husband’s shriek at the moment she was shot was terrifying, Gubareva said. He was crying, “Liza, my daughter, they have killed Mommy!”
But the woman was alive, and a female hostage with a relative in the Red Cross was given back her cell phone to ask a doctor to visit.
“It was an accident, and as far as I know they did not kill any hostages on purpose,” Gubareva said.
About seven hours after seizing the theater, the rebels did kill a 26-year-old Moscow woman who had somehow entered the theater.
On the last night of the siege, Oct. 25, Barayev ordered the rebels to separate the Russian and foreign hostages into two groups. A total of 75 were counted as foreigners, and since Gubareva’s documents were at the U.S. Embassy, she and her daughter were initially identified as Americans.
“They gave Sandy a phone so that he could call the American Embassy and get them to send a representative from the embassy the next day,” Gubareva said.
An agreement was finally made with the U.S. and Kazakh embassies for their release at 8 a.m. on Oct. 26, she said.
Gubareva recalled Barayev announcing to the hostages that negotiations would finally begin at 10 or 11 a.m. on Oct. 26.
“He said that everyone could relax until then, because there would be no assault until negotiations began,” she said.
The hostages settled down to sleep, Gubareva said. The last time she saw her daughter and Booker was at 3:20 a.m.
“They were asleep in each other’s arms,” she said.