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Moscow Schoolboys Save Lives During Crocus City Hall Attack

Two schoolboys, Islam Khalilov, aged 15, and Artyom Donskoy, aged 14, were applauded for their heroism during the Crocus City Hall attack.

They are being hailed as heroes by the Russian media for their courageous actions during the attack on the Crocus City Hall music venue.

Working as cloakroom attendants at the time, Khalilov and Donskoy, along with other staff members, played a crucial role in guiding panicked attendees to safety. They directed people away from dead ends and towards exits, potentially saving numerous lives.

In recognition of their bravery, the boys were awarded medals during a ceremony on Monday, presided over by Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. Commending their actions, Lvova-Belova stated, “They modestly say they did what they had to do.”

Khalilov, whose family immigrated to Russia from Kyrgyzstan, had been employed at Crocus City Hall for approximately a year. Recounting the initial moments of the attack, he mentioned mistaking the gunfire for noisy repair work before realizing the severity of the situation as people began to flee.

Video footage purportedly from the incident depicts Khalilov guiding evacuees through a corridor. However, the authenticity of the footage remains unverified by the BBC, and the claims made in the Russian media about the event lack independent corroboration.

The attack, which occurred on March 22, involved four gunmen storming the venue during a rock concert, followed by gunfire and arson. Authorities reported at least 137 fatalities.

In a concerning development, four individuals from Tajikistan, accused of perpetrating the attack, appeared in court displaying signs of severe torture. This incident has exacerbated xenophobic sentiments in Russia, particularly targeting Central Asians.

With over 10 million migrant workers from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan residing in Russia, reports of discriminatory actions have surged since the attack. Some individuals from Kyrgyzstan found themselves stranded at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after being denied entry into Russia.

Amidst these tensions, there are concerns that official measures to “control migrants” may intensify following the attack, as suggested by a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry.

While Russian media credits Khalilov, Donskoy, and their fellow cloakroom attendants with saving over 100 lives, Khalilov emphasized the urgency of his actions, stating, “I understood that if I didn’t react, many people, including me, would lose their lives.” He remained the last person to exit the venue to ensure no one was left behind.

In recognition of his heroism, Khalilov is set to receive the Medal of Muslims of Russia during Friday prayers, as announced by the Grand Mufti of Russia, Ravil Gaynutdin. Additionally, rapper Morgenshtern pledged to donate 1 million rubles to Khalilov in appreciation of his bravery.

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