chapter  7
9 Pages

The black widows: Chechen women join the fight for independence – and Allah

ByANNE NIVAT

On 23 October 2002 there was a full house at the Dubrovka Theater, located in a former Soviet ball-bearing factory on Melnikova Road, Moscow. The hit musical “Nord Ost,” a satire about life in Russia during Stalin’s time, had been selling out for months and everyone in the audience thought they were lucky to get tickets. But in the middle of the performance, a group of terrorists from Chechnya burst onto the stage and streamed down the aisles. The heavily armed men, accompanied by several women wearing traditional Muslim headscarves and bombs strapped to their waists, took the audience, cast, and staff hostage, threatening to blow everyone up if their demands for an end to the Russian occupation of Chechnya were not met.