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Teen hero relives Moscow concert horror as mother worries about him

Reuters WORLD
Published April 03,2024

Teenage cloakroom attendant Artem Donskov helped people flee to safety when gunmen stormed a concert hall near Moscow last month. Now his mother is trying to get him to see a psychologist.

In an interview with Reuters, 14-year-old Artem said he and his colleagues helped people escape via a service corridor and directed them to the exits after the attackers sprayed concert-goers with gunfire and set the building ablaze.

At one point panic broke out, he said.

"As I understood it, some man yelled that the terrorists might be coming towards us and everyone was frightened. At first, some people ran into a dead end, then they ran outside, dropping their mobile phones and bags, and tried to escape as fast as they could."

At least 144 people were killed in the March 22 attack, the deadliest in Russia for 20 years. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility but Russia says the attackers were linked to Ukraine, something Kyiv has repeatedly denied.

Artem's mother Alexandra Donskova told Reuters that he and the family were emotionally exhausted. She said he was a shy boy and she was concerned about his mental health.

"Of course I would like him to have at least one session with a psychologist, because I can't treat my own child. And I would like him to work through this situation," she said.

"He isn't agreeing to it at the moment, but maybe I will insist a little bit later."