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The Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis: The Perpetrators, their Tactics, and the Russian Response

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image of International Negotiation

The Moscow theater hostage crisis was a spectacular media event, which sparked a wide domestic and international debate concerning the appropriateness of the Russian response. This article attempts to reconstruct and assess the events that took place in terms of negotiability of the incident, and seeks to provide an analytical perspective on the possible alternatives that were available to the Russian authorities throughout the crisis. Part I provides a brief overview of the events that unfolded. This section of the article also places Chechen motivations behind the incident into perspective with regard to past Chechen operations and to their overall strategy. Part II focuses on the details of the attack itself, particularly the Russian response. Special attention is devoted to analyzing the successes and failures of both the negotiations and the tactical assault. The conclusion discusses the implications of the Moscow theater incident for the future, including its potential impact on the likelihood of success of crisis negotiation strategies and the future tactics of the Chechen rebels.


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