THE KURSK CASE MUST BE RESUMED

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Yelena Milashina Novaya Gazeta, August 11, 2003, EV

Criminal case No. 29/00/0016/00 regarding the shipwreck of the Kursk nuclear submarine, which killed 118 crew members, was closed a year ago. The conclusion drawn by investigators was as follows: “No one is guilty.” At the same time, investigators uncovered dozens of facts of abuse of power and various violations as a result of a two-year investigation. (…) The defense does not rely on conclusions drawn by investigators, and thinks that the shipwreck of the submarine was linked with negligence of the command of the Northern Fleet and the Central Staff of the Navy. An aggressive reaction by some high-ranking admirals confirms that the lawyers’ conclusions are correct.

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Victor Kalkutin, senior medical expert of the defense Ministry, headed a group of experts who conducted a forensic examination (in other words, he summarized the results of all expert examinations conducted within the framework of the investigation). Sergei Kozlov, deputy senior navigator of the Russian Navy, conducted a navigation examination aimed at figuring out if the coordinates of SOS signals coincides with the coordinates of the sunken Kursk. Expert examinations conducted by Kalkutin and Kozlov played the main role in the investigation because they were aimed at proving that 23 servicemen, who moved to the ninth compartment, perished within eight hours after explosions on board the submarine. (…) The point is that the military acknowledged the shipwreck only nine (according to the official theory) or 11 hours (according to Kuznetsov’s report) after the explosions. As a result, a search-and-rescue operation began too late. However, Kalkutin concluded that the servicemen perished eight hours after the explosions, which means that it was impossible to rescue them anyway. The main conclusion is that violations committed by admirals during the search-and-rescue operation are not connected with the servicemen’s death.

It turns out that the main goal of an expert examination conducted by Kalkutin was to conceal the crime of high-ranking officers of the Navy who commanded the search-and-rescue operation. Kalkutin fabricated an awful conclusion: “Servicemen perished within 4.5 to eight hours after the explosions on the Kursk submarine.” However, first expert examinations show that the servicemen perished after a fire broke out in the ninth compartment. Investigations did not manage to prove that the fire in the ninth compartment was linked with the explosions in the nose compartment of the submarine. Factually, the fire was not linked with the explosions. The fire of the regenerating unit broke out in the ninth compartment long after the submarine sank. Kalkutin juggled with facts. However, investigators preferred not to notice this. They draw official conclusions on the basis of Kalkutin’s expert examination. Conclusions by independent experts are as follows: it’s impossible to determine the precise time of servicemen’s death because science does not have such technologies.

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Another military expert – Kozlov – had to determine coordinates of SOS signals and compare them with coordinates of the sunken submarine. It should be noted that the Kursk case contains the results of an acoustic examination. Experts noted that the signals came from the sunken submarine. Why did the military conduct another examination headed by Kozlov? The answer is that only this person could prove that signals registered on August 14 came from another submarine, not the Kursk. As a result, investigators concluded that noise classified as SOS signals came from the underwater part of a surface ship located beyond the zone of the shipwreck. It should be noted that SOS signals were a direct sign that servicemen were alive. However, investigators stated that the servicemen perished within eight hours after the explosions (on August 12, 2000). In other words, they could not knock at the submarine’s hull on August 14, 2000. This is why the signals came from another ship. Which ship? Investigators did not want to determine the origin of these signals.

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