The Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis

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The coverage of Moscow theatre hostage crisis by the Russian media demonstrated how media coverage of terrorism can lead to government censorship and manipulation of the media. In the case of the Moscow theatre crisis, this censorship and manipulation included the shutdown of various independent media outlets, the creation of legislature that further diminished the possibility for a free and independent press in Russia, and the outright travel embargoes for journalists. These restrictions, created during and immediately following the hostage crisis, not only changed the state of the media in Russia to a "dictatorship of the law", but also changed the perception of Russia’s control of the press around the world as well.
The Moscow theatre hostage crisis, also known as the 2002 Nord-Ost siege was the takeover of the Dubrovka Theatre by 40 to 50 Chechens on the evening of the 23rd of October. The attackers were led by Movsar Barayev, a 23 year-old Chechen who claimed allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya, a republic situated in the southernmost part of Eastern Europe. Barayev’s and his followers’ motivation for the attacks laid in their demands for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and an end to the Second Chechen War. The three day long hostage crisis involved 850 hostages and ended with the death of at least 170 people, after the Russian Special Forces unit pumped an undisclosed chemical gas into the theatre’s ventilation system.
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