On 23-26 October 2002 a forty-strong armed group from Chechnya demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya seized Moscow’s Dubrovka Theatre (showing the production Nord-Ost) and took hostage 850 people – actors and audience. According to Wikipedia, all forty of the insurgents were killed, and up to 204 hostages died during the siege, including nine foreigners, during the rescue by Russian forces as a result of the toxic substance pumped into the theatre. The identity of the gas was never disclosed, although it is believed by some to have been a fentanyl derivative, such as carfentanil.
Caucasian Knot, Friday, 23 October 2020: On the anniversary of the seizure by militants of the Theatre Centre in Moscow, where the “Nord-Ost” musical was staged, commemorative events have been cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic. However, people still brought flowers and children’s toys to the theatre building. After 18 years passed from the day of the terror act, the question concerning the need for the assault and the use of soporific gas remains disputable.
In Finogenov and Others v. Russia (20 December 2011), the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there had been violations of Article 2 of the European Convention by the Russia government on two grounds: 1) inadequate planning and conduct of the rescue operation; and 2) the authorities’ failure to conduct an effective investigation into the rescue operation.