Putin Agrees to Look Into Siege

APInterior Ministry special forces demonstrating counterterrorism skills Friday at the Novaya Derevnya military base outside Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin has pledged to appoint an official to answer lingering questions about last month's hostage crisis and the conduct of law enforcement authorities, Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky said Friday.

Yavlinsky said Putin agreed in a conversation Thursday that there was a need for answers about the siege of a Moscow theater and the operation that ended it.

"I spoke to the president, and the president agreed that there need to be official answers to the key questions. And he said he will appoint an official representative to give these answers," Yavlinsky said in an interview.

On Wednesday, the State Duma had rejected two proposals to create a commission to investigate the theater raid.

"We tried several times to create an independent commission, but the Cabinet doesn't want it, so it's impossible to pass it, just as we couldn't create a commission on the Kursk," Yavlinsky said, referring to the August 2000 submarine disaster in which 118 were killed.

Yavlinsky said key questions about the theater raid included how such a brazen act could be carried out in the capital and whether law enforcement corruption played a role. "Such terrorist attacks are impossible without corruption," he said.

Yavlinsky also questioned the secrecy around the operation that ended the standoff, asking why doctors were not informed immediately about the gas so they could properly treat victims.

Russia has toughened its stance on Chechnya since the hostage raid.

However, Yavlinsky said he still believed negotiations were the only way to end the war. "A purely military solution is impossible. The federal forces must stop the mop-ups, stop the torture, stop the disappearances of people, stop the extrajudicial reprisals, stop the executions, stop the physical violence toward the civilian population. Until this is done, no negotiations will be possible," he said.