INVESTIGATORS’ CONCLUSIONS CONFLICT WITH THE MATERIALS OF THE CRIMINAL CASE

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Andrei Tsyganov Kommersant, September 23, 2002, p. 4

Relatives of the victims of the Kursk shipwreck and their lawyer disagree with investigators’ conclusions. The lawyer says that 23 seamen, whose bodies were found in the ninth compartment, were alive for two days after the second explosion on board the submarine

In St. Petersburg on Saturday, Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov met with relatives of seamen, who perished on board the Kursk nuclear submarine. He told them about the progress of investigation. It turned out that relatives of the victims are dissatisfied with its results. Their lawyer seeks to resume the investigation.

At present 36 families of seamen of the Kursk submarine live in St. Petersburg. Igor Kurdin, an organizer of the meeting told Kommersant that “the chief military prosecutor sent colonel Mayorov to St. Petersburg. As far as I know, the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office tried to test the policy of acquainting relatives with the materials of the criminal case. However, Mr. Mayorov failed to answer some questions, which is why Alexander Savenkov had to meet with them personally.”

On Saturday 25 families of seamen gathered in the Nazhimov naval school. The press was not allowed to the meeting; Mr. Savenkov met with journalists at a press conference three hours after the meeting.

Participants in the meeting say that at first lawyer Boris Kuznetsov, who defends 22 families of the victims, met with relatives. The prosecutor arrived an hour after that. Alexander Savenkov told relatives that thanks to his efforts the military prosecutor’s office recognized them as victims. He also said that he “has the image of a severe person”. Meanwhile, he noted that relatives of the seamen must consider him as their close friend. The prosecutor told relatives about the investigation of the Kursk shipwreck and invited them to Moscow in order to study the materials. He promised that the military prosecutor’s office would cover their expenses. People asked if this concerned all relatives, or persons whom the military prosecutor’s office considers as victims. Oksana Dudko, the widow of the deputy captain, asked why the military prosecutor’s office has not recognized all members of the seamen’s families as victims. Mr. Savenkov said that he would try to solve all problems, and all relatives will be able to study the materials of the case. Meanwhile, Igor Kurdin said that the major part of the participants in the meeting decided not to go to Moscow and to send their lawyer Boris Kuznetsov. He said: “Meanwhile, a few people (the fathers and former seamen) will go to Moscow and help the lawyer.” According to Kommersant’s sources, the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office’s couriers will soon visit other cities where relatives of the seamen live.

Boris Kuznetsov told journalists on September 22 that “the investigation was highly professional”. In the meantime, however, the lawyer does not rule out that he will ask to resume the investigation “because some conclusions made by experts conflict with the conclusions of the investigation”.

Kuznetsov stated that it was possible to draw a conclusion that seamen in the ninth compartment “lived from four and a half to eight hours after the moment when a fire broke out, while from the conclusions resulting from the investigation by experts in fire disasters it follows that the fire did not break out at the time of the second explosion, but considerably later – after two days.” The lawyer says that 23 seamen, whose bodies were found in the ninth compartment, perished because of admirals’ negligence. According to Kuznetsov, the seamen knocked at the submarine’s hull until August 14 evening (the second explosion took place on August 12).

Igor Kurdin stated that “the court must highlight the key points. This should be done in order to prevent such tragedies in the future.”

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