Russia mourns Kursk five years on

A mourning rally was held near a tombstone on the island of Yagry in Severodvinsk where the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk had been built. There are eight men from the Arkhangelsk region among 118 killed submariners. These are sailors Alexei Korkin, Andrei Dryuchenko and Alexei Shulgin, warrant officers Yakov Samovarov and Sergei Gryaznykh, officers Sergei Uzky, Maxim Rvanin and Sergei Ivanov-Pavlov.

Those who have built the submarine, served aboard the submarine, participated in the lifting operation and the disposal of the submarine commemorated the Kursk crew at a museum of the shipyard Sevmash that heaved off the nuclear-powered submarine K-141 Kursk on May 16, 1994.

The shipyard has built two 90-meter long pontoons that have lifted the Kursk from the sea bottom for the shortest period of time and brought it to the dock, Sevmash chief press officer Mikhail Starozhilov told Itar-Tass. Shipyard specialists were the first to get aboard the Kursk to carry out a very difficult operation to unload missiles, particularly missiles damaged in the blast. According to Sevmash deputy director general for military hardware Andrei Dyachkov, nuclear-powered submarines of the new generation are being built at the shipyard, and they will make the core of the Russian submarine fleet of the twenty first century and will fully replace the Kursk, reports ITAR-TASS.

The nuclear submarine went down in the Barents Sea after a torpedo exploded on board. A rescue attempt failed to save the crew and President Vladimir Putin was criticised at the time for appearing slow to react and call on foreign help.

The sinking of the Kursk - one of Russia’s newest and most modern submarines in 2000 was the country’s worst peacetime military disaster.

The rescue of a Russian mini-submarine trapped on the Pacific floor last week brought back painful memories. In this case, UK rescuers arrived in time to free the submarine with a remote-controlled robot before the seven crew ran out of air. But questions were raised as to why, five years on from the Kursk, Russia still has no modern deep-sea rescue equipment, the BBC reported Friday, informs Mosnews.

According to Moscow Times a month after the Kursk submarine disaster, the newspaper Kommersant published a transcript of President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the families of the 118 lost sailors. An explosion onboard had sunk the sub, and rescue efforts had failed amid official obfuscation. Now the anger boiled over.

"We don't want your money, we want our sons alive!" one woman cried. "We had everything! Our children had fathers and our wives had husbands! They believed in the state, that the state would save them! You don't understand how they believed!"

For many readers, the relatives' unguarded words evoked the depth of the tragedy more clearly than hundreds of overheated media reports.

This is the same principle that drives "Submergence" (Pogruzheniye), a performance piece by the theater group Teatr.doc that commemorates the Kursk disaster on its fifth anniversary. Like many of Teatr.doc's works, the piece was composed from a literal transcript of interviews with ordinary people.

"It was anti-reporting conducted by four of us," wrote Yekaterina Narshi, who is billed as the piece's author, in an e-mail interview this week. She and three friends drove around Murmansk in the weeks following the 2000 disaster, "submerging ourselves in the mindsets, thoughts and observations of local residents: sailors, owners of small businesses, homeless people, taxi drivers."

Photo: AP

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