KURSK INVESTIGATION: ALL VITAL QUESTIONS REMAIN TO BE ANSWERED

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Alexander Yemelianenkov Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 1, 2001, p. 3

All theories for the Kursk submarine sinking have been taken seriously; some have already been discarded. The investigation is working on materials recovered from the wreck, including two messages from crew members. No details of the preliminary investigation are available as yet.

An interview with Justice Major General Viktor Shein, Chief of the Investigation Directorate of the Military Prosecutor General’s Office.

Question: Is it possible to say that the theories of the investigation differ from the theories favored by the governmental commission?

Viktor Shein: On the whole, the theories coincide. We are working on theories that the Kursk collided with another submarine, or with a World War II mine, or that there was an accident in its first compartment that caused an explosion. All theories are being taken seriously, without bias or anything like that. Some of the proposed theories have been found to be groundless, and abandoned.

Question: Experienced submariners (Admiral Baltin, for example) demand to know the plan of the maneuvers. They say this will do away with a lot of unfounded theories and suspicions. Information from the naval command on that score was rather confusing. Does the investigation have a detailed plan of the exercises?

Shein: Our investigators confiscated and thoroughly studied a great many documents on the exercises, and on how the Kursk had been prepared for them. And on the rescue effort too. I trust you understand that we cannot reveal the details of the preliminary investigation yet.

Question: Where are the materials which were raised from the Kursk?

Shein: They all constitute evidence. The investigation has them all, for the purposes of forensic examination.

The media regularly asks how many messages were raised from the Kursk with the bodies. In October and November we retrieved many documents from the Kursk, and two messages written by crew members (one of them by Kolesnikov). Experts are now working on them.

Question: And who wrote the second message?

Shein: Experts are trying to identify the author. Not everything in the messages is meant for the general public.

Question: Is there a representative of the prosecutor’s office on the governmental commission or in its working teams?

Shein: That’s out of the question. There can’t be any prosecutors on the governmental commission, or we would have been biased.

Question: Let me put it this way then: do you have access to all materials compiled by the commission?

Shein: We cooperate and exchange information whenever necessary. Officers with a need to know are never barred from any materials compiled by the governmental commission.

Question: What if the theory is confirmed that Kursk Commander Lyachin did report having a faulty torpedo aboard. The newspaper that promoted this theory further assumed that staff officers had concealed this report from the governmental commission, and promoted the collision theory…

Shein: We don’t have any such data, and therefore we don’t have anything to comment on.

Fleet Commander Admiral Popov will be asked all relevant questions. All questions, believe me. And since there is such a theory, the question about a reported faulty torpedo will be asked too.

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