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Boy in Hostage Videotape Recounts How He Survived the Beslan Ordeal

Published: September 14, 2004 (Issue # 1003)


VLADIKAVKAZ - In a terrifying videotape of the Beslan school hostage-taking, Georgy Farniyev, 10, sat near a bomb, his hands behind his head and his face a mask of misery.

He looked certain to die, but survived through luck, self-possession beyond his years and enough grit to pull shrapnel out of his own arm.

On Thursday, Georgy spoke of his ordeal from the back of an ambulance that was about to take him to a plane for Moscow, where he was to get treatment for his injuries.

It was the first day of school when the attack began Sept. 1, and Georgy remembered lining up with his classmates when the gunmen arrived, shooting into the air and herding the parents and children into the gymnasium. He was there with his aunt Irina and 6-year-old cousin, Elbrus, who also survived with injuries.

"They told us to 'sit tight and if you scream we will kill 20 children.' One terrorist had 20 children [of his own] who were killed, and because of that they came to kill us," Georgy said.

There was not much water to drink, and only a few people were allowed to go to the bathroom during the attack, Georgy said.

"Children, women and even men were fainting. They were not giving us water," Georgy said, appearing emotionally numb from his ordeal and his train of thought swerving back and forth as he recounted his experiences.

Some of the terrorists had beards, and one was clean-shaven, and he said the women were wearing what looked like money pouches, "but there was no money, only explosives."

The attackers busied themselves with placing bombs around the gym and hanging explosives from basketball hoops after they first arrived. On the second day, he said the terrorists killed some adults and one girl-shooting one victim before the eyes of the gathered hostages in the gym but taking the others who were killed elsewhere.

On the tape, apparently taken by the attackers, Georgy was sitting close to the side of the gym where some of the explosives were concentrated-which other survivors said would likely have caused his immediate death when they went off in the chaos that ended the standoff last Friday. He said he had been directly on a square-shaped explosive.

"One of the mines was right under us," he said. "There were a lot of explosives, grenades, bombs." But at one point later Georgy was told to move, a move that apparently saved his life.

"When they started to shoot and the bomb went off, it didn't do anything to me, not even a scratch," he said. "There was shooting, grenades, bombs."

Georgy rushed from the gym to a nearby room, then to a cafeteria where he was hit by some shrapnel in his right knee and left upper arm. Fleeing for his life, he limped into a kitchen and hid in a closet.

Georgy pulled the shrapnel from his arm and cleaned it with water, but was unable to pull the shrapnel from his knee.

He said he found a telephone and tried to call for help, but it was broken. Earlier the terrorists had destroyed hostages' cellphones with the butts of their rifles, he said.

As he remained hiding, he said a soldier later approached and asked, "Are there any more Chechens?" "I said 'No,"' Georgy said.

Someone then took his hand, and he was passed out a window and into a rescue vehicle to be taken away, but was separated from his relatives.

Georgy was to be treated for
complications of the knee injury in Moscow.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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