Boris Gevorkyan Rossiiskaya Gazeta, November 9, 2001, p. 3

The general prosecutor discusses theories about the Kursk submarine disaster, and shed some light on the mysterious “blacklist” of senior state officials. He also discusses whether it is possible to beat corruption

As the press has already informed, General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov was among the first who entered the crashed nuclear powered Kursk submarine. Interfax agency correspondent interviewed Vladimir Ustinov for Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

Question: You spent over ten days in Roslyakovo. What are the results of the investigators’ work?

Ustinov: The investigators have been working day and night inside the submarine, removing the bodies and examining the technical condition of the vessel. All that we saw there we showed to the public. We have not hidden anything, there are no secrets about the circumstances of the tragedy. And we have imparted all the facts to Russian citizens, most importantly: the submarine crew had practically no chance of surviving.

Question: What caused the disaster?

Ustinov: I believe that submarine sank after the second explosion, which happened only 135 seconds after the first. As for the first explosion, this was caused by a torpedo, which served as a detonator. This question will be examined more carefully. This is not a conclusion, only one of the theories. Visiting the submarine, working there, gave us an opportunity to make certain that this theory was really a possibility.

Question: One website reported that the submarine sank after an explosion caused by a collision with another submarine. What do you think of that?

Ustinov: I don’t know who says so, but I can tell you definitely: we are not drawing any such conclusions.

Question: Now let us return to the capital. How do you evaluate the situation with Duma deputy Golovlev?

Ustinov: Investigation of the Golovlev case is almost complete. But if the deputy interferes with our work, we will address the Duma once again and ask them to agree to his arrest. And we will draw the corresponding assessments. I believe the State Duma will not refuse to do so.

Question: At present there is a lot of talk about the so-called “blacklist” of several top-ranking state officials. Is it true?

Ustinov: There have never been any “blacklists”, and there never will be. Certain media are trying to gather everything into one heap. They present even old cases, which have long been sent to the court, as new.

Question: But why have certain ministries and departments come into the focus of attraction of the General Prosecutor’s Office?

Ustinov: There are no departments in Russia which are exempt from audits and investigations. Unfortunately, crimes are committed in many structures, maybe even in most of them. Even in the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Interior Ministry and the FSB. So there is no drama about these investigations. This is a routine method of ascertaining the truth.

Question: So what lies in store for Railroads Minister Nikolai Aksenenko, a rather influential minister, whom you have recently charged?

Ustinov: We are now working on this, and I believe we will take the case through to its logical conclusion.

Question: But they say that corruption, like the mafia, cannot be conquered…

Ustinov: The question is what we mean by corruption. This is a very broad concept. In the area of bribe-taking alone, we took action against over 8,500 corrupt officials last year.