GENERAL PROSECUTOR VLADIMIR USTINOV: "WE WILL TAKE OUT BODIES FROM THE KURSK SUBMARINE"

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Leonid Berres Kommersant, October 20, 2001, p. 3

General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov said in an interview with Kommersant that the prosecutor’s office will not be able to solve the mystery of the Kursk disaster until the first compartment of the submarine is raised from the seabed.

General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov promised to Kommersant’s correspondents that he would examine the Kursk submarine personally, and people guilty of the shipwreck will be persecuted regardless of their services.

Question: When do you leave for Murmansk?

Vladimir Ustinov: I will arrive in Murmansk this Sunday. We will start examining the submarine next Monday. I will participate in the examination personally. Three theories, which investigators have been considering since the very beginning have not changed. However, to date we have a unique possibility of checking them. We intend to conduct many experiments and I think we will be able to end the investigation quickly.

Question: What problems will you face?

Vladimir Ustinov: First and foremost, the human factor. We will take out the bodies of seamen and identify them. We understand that the bodies, which have spent a year in the sea, will be unrecognizable. We have gathered many specialists in Murmansk and Severomorsk for conducting genetic experiments. They will cope with their task in a month. We will examine registers and documents in all compartments. It is not out of the question that we will find seamen’s notes.

(…) It should not been forgotten that the submarine is stuffed with missiles which must be deactivated. This is very difficult, which is why I do not want to speak of the timing of the investigation. Over 40 people will examine the submarine. We will take out the bodies of seamen from the submarine. I think our people are ready to see death. In addition, we will study materials linked with the exercise during which the submarine sank. We must figure out if the commanders violated regulations during the exercise.

Question: Do have the main theory regarding the tragedy?

Vladimir Ustinov: Experience shows that investigators must not focus on one theory. We will consider all theories.

Question: Is it possible that a new torpedo tested during the exercise caused the tragedy?

Vladimir Ustinov: That was not a new torpedo. Designers changed something in its construction and improved the accumulator. Such changes could not cause an emergency. However, we have to examine the bow compartment to be sure.

Question: Do you mean the first compartment, which has remained on the seabed?

Vladimir Ustinov: Yes, I do. We will not be able to solve the enigma of the Kursk disaster without the first compartment. Ilya Klebanov promised to me that the first compartment would be raised next year.

(…)

Question: Do you have evidence that shows that the Kursk collided with a foreign submarine?

Vladimir Ustinov: We received orders to investigate this theory but we do not have evidence that this happened.

Question: Is it possible that the prosecutor’s office will close the case if it turns out that high-ranking officials are guilty of the Kursk disaster?

Vladimir Ustinov: I am sure that people guilty of the shipwreck will be persecuted regardless of their posts and services.

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