In one of the most dangerous standoffs in the country’s storied history, Russian government officials decided this week to use gas to end a hostage situation.
Fifty Chechen rebels stormed a Russian theater Thursday night and held more than 700 patrons hostage for more than two days.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin decided how best to handle the situation, the death toll mounted.
Finally, in a controversial move Saturday, gas was pumped into the theater, allowing troops to enter and end the standoff.
While this move may have been the only one available to the officials, the controversy comes with the type of gas used. While originally believed to be a form of sleeping gas, officials are now speculating that it was in fact Fentanyl, a derivative of opium.
This kind of gas may have caused the 116 deaths, hostages and rebels alike. Russian officials may have had no choice, but their unwillingness to divulge the type of gas used implies a cover-up.
Russia should have been forthcoming with the information in order to avoid any backlash. It is obvious the government doesn’t want to imply to its people that it put them in danger, but they must be upfront with the information in order to avoid speculation.
It is hard to crucify Putin for ending a situation that could have quickly spun more out of control. Whether he did the right thing will have to be determined by someone else. It is doubtful whether any world leader will have the courage to pass judgment.