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Moscow Theater Reopens After Repairs
January 25, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - The Moscow theater where Chechen militants took hundreds of
people hostage in a deadly raid last October officially reopened Saturday
after three months of repairs.

Meanwhile, Russian police detained three Chechens suspected of involvement
in the attack, a news agency reported.

Chechen gunmen seized the theater on Oct. 23 during a performance of the
musical ``Nord-Ost'' and took about 800 people hostage. Three days later,
Russian special forces troops stormed the building, killing all 41
hostage-takers. In the end, 129 hostages died, the vast majority killed by
a narcotic gas used to incapacitate the militants.

The theater was renovated with $2.5 million from the Moscow city
government. It has a new security system with metal detectors and a
refurbished interior, including a new audio system and orchestra pit.

``Nothing in this hall will remind us of those terrible days,'' said
Nord-Ost producer Georgy Vasiliyev at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended
by actors and Moscow city officials. ``Even former hostages who have
visited can't find their seats'' because of the extensive renovations, he

An influential business association, the Russian Union of Industrialists
and Entrepreneurs, has pledged $317,000 to revive the musical. A new
production is scheduled for Feb. 8, but it remains unclear whether the
public will embrace it, Vasiliyev said.

``It's understandable that people will never again be able to look at this
show as simply theater,'' he said.

Russian police detained the three Chechens in the city of Penza, about 310
miles southeast of Moscow, on suspicion of involvement in the October
hostage-taking, the Interfax news agency reported.

The agency quoted the local police chief, Alexander Gulyakov, as saying
that the three had been put under surveillance after settling in Penza
immediately after the theater raid.

He said federal police and intelligence officials had confirmed that the
three played a role in the hostage-taking, but did not elaborate. The
suspects have been transferred to Moscow, he said. Back to the Top    Next Article