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Richard was correct! The Russians used a Fentanyl derivative aerosol, which is a fast-acting anaesthetic.


—- 20021030/ts_nm/russia_siege_dc


“But Health Minister Yuri Shevchenko put an end to speculation Wednesday, insisting the gas used was not a banned substance.

“To neutralize the terrorists a substance based on Fentanyl derivatives was used,” he said in comments broadcast on Russian television, adding that on its own the substance was not lethal.

Shevchenko said it had proved fatal in this case, especially to vulnerable people such as those with heart conditions, because of the dreadful conditions in which they had been held for 58 hours.

Fentanyl works quickly on the brain’s pain receptors and is used both for general anesthesia and light sedation.

“I officially declare: chemical substances which might have fallen under the jurisdiction of the international convention on banning chemical weapons were not used during the special operation,” Shevchenko added.”


On Tuesday, October 29, 2002, at 10:42 AM, Richard J. Campbell wrote:

> Ian asked me to dig up what I could about the gas the Russian Special
> Forces used in the Chechnya Theater Seige.
> There’s been a bit of hue and cry over the use of the gas, personally,
> I thought it was a brilliant move – there were armed terrorists
> with assault weapons pointed at the hostages, and suicide bombers
> sitting among the hostages in the seats… all in all, an impossible
> hostage situation. If *any* of those bombs had gone off, more people
> would be dead today than there are. However, that’s not to say that
> the Special Forces didn’t make some mistakes…
> There’s been no clear explanation of what gas was actually used. Its
> been called a “knockout” gas, a “paralytic” gas, and an anesthetic
> gas. The best information available at the moment comes from the
> doctors who had to treat the hostages affected by the gas – the
> ineffectiveness of atropine treatment seems to indicate that the gas
> is NOT an organophosphate, which is what we know as “nerve gas.” The
> more effective treatment was naloxone, popularily known as “Narcan”,
> which is especially effective against opinoids – in other words, an
> anesthetic.
> Considering the speed and power of the gas, its likely a fentanyl
> aerosol was used – this is what they call a hyperangesic – ultra
> powerful pain reliever/muscle relaxant. A version of this drug is used
> in heart surgeries. Considered a thousand times more powerful than
> heroin, its normally never seen outside of a hospital. Fentanyl is a
> synthetic anesthetic, but derived opinoids.
> The gas is colorless, odorless and quick acting, so quick that the
> even though the Chechnyans had gas masks, they didn’t have time to put
> them on.
> It appears that the Special Forces had come to the conclusion that gas
> was an essential component of the attack, since it was the only method
> of neutralizing all the terrorists at once.
> Unfortunately, the gas is dense and persistant, so in the relatively
> air-tight confines of the theater, it would not have dispersed for
> hours. And apparently it took over two hours to get all the hostages
> out of the theater – likely most of the deaths came from over-exposure
> to the gas, suppressing respiration, suffocation due to vomiting and
> heart failure.
> Two things would have helped minimize the deaths – the first would
> have been to have the medical personnel on site carrying Narcan for
> immediate application. Just letting the medical staff know what the
> anti-dote was would have made a big difference. Also, clearing the air
> in the theater and the hostages in the theater more efficiently. After
> the neutralization was complete (a fancy way of saying “putting
> bullets into the heads of all the bad guys”), a ventilation crew could
> have come in with fans to clear the air, and more personnel for
> removing and treating the hostages quickly.
> In the defense of the special forces, it appears they did not plan on
> acting when they did – the current story is that a boy hostage had
> snapped and threw things at the terrorists, who started shooting
> indiscriminately, killing other hostages, and forcing the Special
> Forces to move early. This may be just a convenient story, but it does
> seem that the assault was somewhat ill-timed and under-prepared.


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