Kiev in no mood to reimburse relatives of Tupolev Tu-154 crash victims

The widow of flight engineer Valery Laptev, who perished aboard a Tupolev Tu-154 jet-liner that was downed by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile (SAM) last year, and his two under-age daughters are demanding that the Ukrainian side pay more substantial damages to the tune of 2,817,000 hrivnas (One dollar costs 5.33 hrivnas - Ed.), reports their lawyer Sergei Platonov. He made this revelation during yet another session of Kiev's Pechersky local court. Material damages account for 117,000 hrivnas, with moral damages totalling 2.7 million hrivnas.

According to Platonov, greater damages can be explained by the fact that the plaintiffs, who represent Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers (Government), Defense Ministry and State Treasury, are trying to delay litigation proceedings. Ukrainian officials, who refuse to reimburse the relatives of crash victims, are also trying to deny the fact that an anti-aircraft missile was launched October 4, 2001. By the way, Kiev officials keep remarking cynically that Ukrainian missiles don't understand Russian.

The court ruled in favor of Laptev's widow. Meanwhile the plaintiffs will have enough time to study the new law-suit until the next court session, due to take place November 5.

Moreover, the court refused to grant a request on the part of Defense Ministry representatives, who asked that the court suspend the case's examination because, in their words, the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office hasn't yet finished investigating the air crash.

Meanwhile Platonov referred to the Chicago international civil aviation convention, which allows investigation agencies of the country, which owned the ill-fated Tu-154 (i.e. Russia), to examine this case. As of today, the Pechersky local court is examining 12 law-suits, which were filed by crash-victim relatives. They would like to receive over 21 million hrivnas in damages.

The Tu-154 passenger airliner crashed October 4, 2001, after being hit by a Ukrainian S-200 SAM, which was launched during an exercise involving national air-defense units. 76 people, i.e. 66 passengers (Russian and Israeli citizens) and 12 crew members, perished as a result.