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Former Russian Hostages Seek Compensation - 2002-12-03


A group of former hostages and their relatives are seeking compensation from the city of Moscow for the October hostage crisis in the city.

A Moscow city court held a preliminary hearing in a case brought by former hostages, as well as relatives of those who died when Russian forces raided the theater where the hostages were held.

A lawyer for the group, Igor Trunov, said he represents eight clients who are suing the city for $7.5 million. He added that other victims and their families may soon be added to the list of people seeking compensation.

In October, a group of Chechen gunmen raided a theater in Moscow, taking hundreds of people hostage. The crisis ended a few days later when Russian forces stormed the theater.

But questions have been raised about the methods used by Russian forces. Almost all the 129 people who died were killed by the gas Russian forces pumped into the theater to subdue the Chechen gunmen.

Almost all those who survived had to be hospitalized because of gas inhalation.

One of those bringing the lawsuit, Anna Lyubimova, spoke with Russia's TVS television. She said her 71-year-old father was in the building during the raid and still suffers from effects of the gas. Ms. Lyubimova said part of her father's face and his left hand are paralyzed, and he can barely eat.

But the Moscow government says that it should not be held responsible for the hostage crisis. City officials have said federal authorities are responsible for the ongoing conflict in Chechnya and any resulting problems.

Russian authorities have agreed to pay a little more than $3,000 to the families of hostages who died in the crisis. Hostages who survived the siege are supposed to receive half that amount.

The court case is scheduled to begin December 24.

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