A Russian woman caught in the concert shooting said goodbye to the world


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian artist Alyona Kazinskaya loves filling her social media feeds with joyful messages and vivid floral paintings. It became a period of terror for 30 minutes last Friday night.

Kazinskaya and a friend had bought tickets at the last minute to see the Soviet-era rock group “Picnic” perform in front of 6,200 people at a concert hall near Moscow. He thought about taking his daughters but decided to go himself.

It was 8:01 p.m. when Kazinskaya posted the first 10-second audio message on her Telegram channel, describing gasps of breath and fear as the loud sound of gunshots was heard.

“I love you all. I’m at the Crocus City Hall – Picnic. They’re shooting up the concert here. I’m in the hall. Call the police.”

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As four Kalashnikov-armed gunmen stormed the building, opening fire on concertgoers, Kazinskaya found herself caught in the deadliest attack on Russia in 20 years.

As of Thursday, 143 people were confirmed dead in the massacre, for which Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility, but Russia – despite Kiev’s vehement denials – is attempting to link it to Ukraine.

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In an interview with Reuters, Kazinskaya said she quickly realized that the sounds she was hearing were gunshots, not special effects. He along with his friend tried to inspire people nearby to leave their seats and run away.

“We tried to get people up, we picked them up, but people had already run to the exit and we couldn’t get out. At the same time they (the gunmen) burst into the hall. Then I threw my friend on the floor. Gave it and I said ‘let’s crawl’.”

Kazinskaya said, her first thought was to get out of the hall at any cost. “My second thought was that I’m wearing white, I’m a good target.”

She paused for a while and laughed.

“And finally, the third thought was that I’m going to write something now – yes I’m scared but I’m going to put these messages in my (Telegram) channel because that way someone, somewhere, for sure Will hear them, find them and call someone.”

At 8:08 pm, with his fingers trembling on the phone, he typed three messages one after the other, tracing the letters.

“Please call the police!!!!!”

By now, a couple of them had escaped from the hall but were still trapped inside the building. The shooting stopped, but now there was another danger.

8:17 PM One word audio message. “Fire!”

The gunmen used gasoline to set fire to the huge concert hall. The two friends took shelter in a toilet. There was smoke everywhere. He tried half a dozen times to get out, but he could not see anything and had to retreat.

Kazinskaya was losing hope.

At 8:23 pm he left a four-second audio message, which he said would be his last.

Confused, they both found themselves in another toilet where more people were hiding. There was a guy there who said he thought he could find a way. They pursued her and managed to escape the building – but still, Kazinskaya did not feel safe.

“I only had two thoughts in my mind. First, I needed first aid because I couldn’t breathe. My lungs were burning and I was having an asthma attack. And the second thought was that I had to get as far out of the building as I could.” We have to go as far as possible.”

At 8:31 pm he left a new audio message. “I’m alive. I’m getting first aid. I’m out. Thank you.”

Returning home, Kazinskaya says she simply “hugged everyone”. Now, she says, it will be a long time before she can go to clubs or big concerts again. But she finds comfort in the support she has received.

“I think society needs to be kinder to itself,” he said. “Because when something bad happens we remember that we are human, but we need to remain human every day.”

(Reporting by Reuters; Witting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Alison Williams)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,


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