They took us at seven in the morning. It was getting light. First the dog started barking. "There're people coming!" yelled Dimka, who was sleeping by the window. "Lots of them. With guns!"
We jumped out of bed. A few minutes went by before armed men broke down the door. "Stay down, fuckers! Nobody move!" And more of that sort of thing, tough-guy talk from TV shows or the movies. They pushed us out half-naked into the snow and shoved us down on our knees in a half-circle. With me in front. They were beating someone with rifle-butts. Those who slept in underwear were in underwear. I was barefoot, in a t-shirt and black knit pants. Without my glasses.
In all, there must have been at least two platoons of soldiers. Some of them had "FSB" in big blue letters on the back of their jackets. They were under the command of a tall, evil character in black glasses. They picked me up out of the snow and took me into the hut, let me get dressed. In the chaos of overturned beds, the search began.
Two Altai natives who were obviously taken from some nomadic tribe gazed with eager eyes at my binoculars. Superfluous soldiers wandered into the hut. The examining magistrate, Major Shafarov, was writing the official account of the search. They took my dollars and started counting them. There turned out to be 11,100. They took out my rubles as well, about 15,000, which later disappeared.
Since the hut was small, really just two beds, and there had been eight people sleeping there, four beds brought in, the chaos was terrible. "Search" -- that word doesn't really cover what was going on. Some object would draw their attention, and if they felt it might serve their purposes, they'd throw it on one of the beds, where there was a general pile of stuff. One of the officers was rummaging through the books -- a small shelf had been nailed up by the ceiling. "Do you know Dima Kondratyev, Edward Veniaminovich?" asked the lanky commander. "He investigated you in relation to the explosion." I realized, without any pleasure, it was necessary to speak. Another guy from Moscow, whose last name I'd seen on the search protocol, but forgot -- Edward Vadimovich, a loose young man, tending towards fat -- dropped all these ironic observations about my cause. "You, Edward Veniaminovich, are the leader of the most radical party we have in Russia. The absolute most." He told me he attentively read my book Anatomy of a Hero and that today was the happiest day of his life; he had caught me, his favorite author.
Then they suggested that I show them where the weapons were kept. On my own. I told them I didn't have any arms, even blades; if Pirogov had something, I didn't answer for his arms. "Well, whatever, let's go search together," the lanky commander said. They took their special dog and started to ransack the building in my presence.
Our boys were still standing in the cold; it was forbidden to dress. In the end, they locked them all in the old bathroom. With the exception of Akopyan.
Neither their dog nor their metal detector was able to uncover anything. Edward Vadimovich started joking less frequently. I managed to hear two of the participants of the search, whose backs I could only see, "No luck again!" It really was unlucky. To drag that whole horde from Moscow, from Barnaul, from Gorno-Altai, create the impression of seizing a free group, spend so much money and - zero.
They put me in the bathroom with the boys. I said that they would all be released sooner or later, as they were trying to get me, even though they didn't have any basis. But there was a goal - to expand the organization, and maybe we found the best way, if they jailed the leader.
They started to call the boys for short interrogations in a shack. On the way they tried to hit them with their rifle butts. One especially bloodthirsty, tall and thin (probably lieutenant) named Oleg took Dimka Bakhur into the tambour and hit him from behind. "Eh," I said, "don't hit him and definitely don't hit him in the head, half his skull has been blown away." In fact, Bakhur had an operation in which they temporarily removed a piece of his skull from below the ear. The lieutenant gritted his teeth, but stopped hitting him.