A. Torshin's parliamentry commission's report confirms this information: when journalists began reporting the unofficial number of the hostages on Sept. 1, 2004, those responsible for contact with the press were Ossetian interior minister Dzantiyev, head of the department of the federal security service Andreyev and Dzasokhov's press secretary Lev Dzugayev. The regular supply of information to the mass media was carried out via D. S. Peskov, a representative of the president of the Russian Federation.
It was these lies about the number of the hostages supplied by these people that led to the rebels' aggressive behavior and their shooting of the people. After the rebels learned that the media were reporting a total of 354 people being held, they stopped giving water to the hostages.
According to his official bio (in Russian), Pyotr Vasilyev earned a Ph.D. in Communication from School of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1998. From 1996 to 2000, he was an executive producer at ABC News and frequently worked on assignments from ABC's Primetime Live and Nightline.
Hard to believe this is true, hard to believe the world is so small, too fucking ironic that a man with access to some really important and disgusting state secrets and lies had spent four years working for a TV company that is now not allowed to work in Russia...
David McDuff at A Step at a Time has translated part of an interview with Stanislav Kesaev, conducted by Marina Litvinovich.