Granite memorial to 'Kursk' is cold comfort for families who want truth about tragedy

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Military and civilian officials unveiled a bronze monument to the crew of the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine in Moscow yesterday, marking the second anniversary of the explosion that sank the vessel in one of Russia's most devastating post-Soviet disasters.

Military and civilian officials unveiled a bronze monument to the crew of the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine in Moscow yesterday, marking the second anniversary of the explosion that sank the vessel in one of Russia's most devastating post-Soviet disasters.

The crewmen's weeping relatives and other mourners gathered in churches and cemeteries across Russia to pay tribute to the 118 seamen who were killed, and Russia's Northern Fleet lowered its flags to half-mast.

In the Arctic village of Vidyayevo, from which the Kursk departed on its final voyage, officials unveiled a black granite memorial of a submarine's conning tower. Residents threw red carnations into the murky sea.

At the Moscow ceremony, a brass band played under hazy summer skies as naval officers marched in step and laid giant wreaths near a statue of a huge bronze sailor standing over a submarine plunging into the ocean depths. The new monument, in the courtyard of the city's Armed Forces Museum, was dedicated to those "killed carrying out their military duty".

Galina Loginova, whose son Sergei was one of the sailors killed on the Kursk, stood nearby with a handful of carnations. She was among about a dozen family members who attended the ceremony.

"We're satisfied with what they've done here, so it all won't be forgotten," Mrs Loginova said, struggling to hold back tears. "But we're not satisfied with the official account of what happened."

The Kursk, one of Russia's largest and most advanced submarines, was torn open by two powerful explosions during exercises in the Barents Sea.

Russia's most senior prosecutor announced last month that a leaky torpedo propellant, hydrogen peroxide, had caused the explosion, closing the books on the lengthy official investigation.

After the Kursk was lost – four months into Vladimir Putin's presidency – some senior Russian naval officers claimed she had been rammed by a "foreign" spy submarine, or had hit an old mine.

The Russian navy has now withdrawn from service all missiles of the type that exploded on the Kursk but many relatives say the government has not revealed the full truth about the cause of the blast.

An international salvage operation raised the bulk of the Kursk last year and recovered the bodies of 115 of the men aboard. Russian officials have said they will scrap the Kursk carcass and dismantle the twin nuclear reactors.

They also plan to blow up remnants of the mangled bow of the Kursk, left behind on the ocean floor out of fear that it could have destabilised the lifting operation. The bow will be blown up this month, the Interfax-Military news agency said yesterday. (AP)

Comments