«Five days of hell»: the memories of survivors of the attack on Budyonnovsk

© RIA Novosti / Alexander Zemlyanichnaya in fotosensibile in Budyonnovsk. Archival photo«Five days of hell»: the memories of survivors of the attack on Budyonnovsk© RIA Novosti / Alexander Zemlyanichnaya the image Bank

For more than 22 years have passed since then, as the Budennovsk in Stavropol Krai for five days was hell for the civilian population — the city was attacked by fighters led by Shamil Basayev. It was the first major terrorist attack in post-Soviet Russia.

Severo-the Caucasian district military court on Wednesday will announce the verdict of two alleged members of a gang of Basayev, accused of capture of hostages in Budyonnovsk.

The fourteenth of June 1995 at least 160 militants armed with guns, grenades and explosive devices attacked the organizations and citizens of Budennovsk. The hostages were about 1.6 thousand civilians were killed and 129 people injured 317.

Residents of the city told the correspondent of RIA Novosti, as the city survived the attacks and how he negotiated with Basayev.

The city is on fire

Alexander Korobeinikov at the time worked as a Deputy head of administration of Stavropol territory, and in the next he was empowered to negotiate with Basayev. That day, June 14, 1995, he received information about the attack on Budennovsk.

«We began to check and the phone no they have not responded. Were not working and government communications,» he recalls. Then the node still managed to get through. Picked up a girl who forgot things in the control room and returned to retrieve them from the shelter. «She picked up the phone and shouted to me: «the City burns, attacked us, killing us, help!» says Korobeinikov.

After that, he together with the head of the Stavropol police and other security forces flew to Budennovsk. After landing on the outskirts, they saw that the city was burning, there was smoke everywhere. Closer to the center of the streets began to appear body shot. «The view was terrible. And we were scared,» he says.

The local police, who first was attacked, there were nearly two dozen dead. At that time, the security forces still did not have a permit to carry automatic weapons, they were at best armed with guns, so they defended as best they could. Then the terrorists took over several buildings, and then there was the hospital…

To run away can’t stay

All the hostages who managed to capture the insurgents, they were driven in Budennovskiy district Central hospital. «First began to appear wounded, and then a huge number of people, accompanied by armed men. Then we realized that we captured,» says with a heavy sigh Peter Kostyuchenko, who then worked as Deputy chief physician by medical part.

Cellars in the building of oxygen station nearby was mined. In such circumstances, doctors kept his composure, continued to operate: to operate, to bandage, to heal. «We were not prohibited, and the wounded and sick were many… There is more to each Basayev was wounded, they demanded him to immediately operate. Colleagues and he was operated on,» he recalls.

In between work Kostyuchenko had to solve other more important issues. For instance, he was instructed to organize the delivery of food to the hospital and monitor the replenishment of blood. «I had to leave the hospital… Escape was impossible. How to stop friends, colleagues and people? It is not clear how the bass would react, if I’m not back,» he explains.

Meanwhile, the militants demanded to stop military actions in Chechnya and withdraw its troops, otherwise they threatened to kill all the hostages. With Basayev negotiations began.

We fell one by one

In addition to the enormous tension during the negotiations, the Russian side had to appease the residents who were trying to deal with peaceful Chechens and wanted to make a militia storming the hospital.

«I think part of it was the plan of militants to provoke the ethnic clashes. Thank God, restrained» — shared peddlers. On the third day, notwithstanding the contrary opinions at the headquarters, security forces decided to storm the hospital.

«At five in the morning we were awakened by a cannonade of explosions and armed bandits said, «Congratulations with the day of medical worker». We realized that stormed the hospital,» — says Lyudmila Chabanova, who worked at the time as a pediatrician.

Hospital workers brought into the hallway and put up against Windows as human shields. «Then we just fell one by one the wounded. We had tangential wounds, shrapnel. I was wounded in the abdomen, it was a fragment of» softly she said.

Over the wound followed by a serious operation. The next day Cabanova brought home from the hospital and taken to the clinic. Years later, the wound healed, but the mental trauma remained. «We still flinch from clapping. I stopped watching movies where there is at least some shooting and bloodshed… We still go and turn around» she said.

Allah judged

It all ended on June 19 when after the completion of negotiations with Basayev and other terrorists under the guise of about 120 hostages back to Chechnya. The rest were released. «Basayev is believed that to some extent achieved our goal, which killed a number of people told about it to the whole world,» says Korobeinikov.

A few years later he met Basayev at the inauguration of Aslan Maskhadov in Chechnya. «He was surprised to see me. Said, «are You alive? Thought you’d been killed already.» And I say: «Allah is above us, he will judge, to whom forward.» Later his leg blown off by a shell, and then you know (Basayev was killed during a special operation in 2005 — ed.),» says Korobeinikov. Many other terrorists suffered a similar fate.

People today who lived through those days in Budyonnovsk, talking about how important it is to build inter-ethnic relations, to create a «spiritual ties» to future generations never have to go through this, because «time heals, but not really.»