Kursk Relatives Make a Plea for Facts and Justice
Published: February 23, 2001 (Issue # 647)
MOSCOW - Half a year after the Kursk submarine tragedy left 118 seamen buried at the bottom of the Barents Sea, relatives of the victims still don't know the truth about the disaster and are petitioning the Prosecutor General's Office to find out.
"I am feeling enormous moral damage in the form of physical and moral suffering," said Nadezhda Neust ro yeva, mother of Alexander Neust royev, a 21-year-old electrician who went down with the Kursk. "I ask you to consider me a victim and a plaintiff in the criminal case launched into the sinking of the Kursk," she said in her complaint.
Neustroyeva's complaint is just one of at least 15 that have been filed by surviving family members to date, human rights group Pravo Materi, or Mother's Rights, told reporters Thursday.
Pravo Materi legal advisor Anastasiya Bakarasova said that if the families are successful, they will win access to as yet unreleased documents compiled during the course of the official criminal investigation.
"After that," Bakarasova said, "the families will be able to open [their own] court case against specific officials who are guilty in the tragedy and for the satisfaction of the damage done to them."
Nadezhda Tylik, whose son Sergei was among the Kursk dead, said she, too, petitioned the Prosecutor General's Office.
Tylik made headlines around the world when a television camera caught an unidentified woman surreptitiously jabbing a syringe of tranquilizers into her as she was shouting at Admiral Vla di mir Kuroyedov during a post-tragedy press conference.
Just after the stealth injection, Tylik said, her husband claimed it was he who had asked the woman to tranquilizer her because she was prone to excessive emotions. But, she said, several months later he confessed that this was a lie.
"He said it was a lie to save my nerves. In fact, he did not ask for any help," Tyulik said. "The injection was done to shut my mouth. Immediately after it I just lost the ability to speak and was carried out."
Tylik said that she is prepared to do anything to uncover the truth about the sinking of the Kursk. "They told us lies the whole time, and even now we are unable to get any information," she said.
Tylik also criticized President Vla di mir Putin because he "did not answer direct questions" at his meeting with the families in Vidyayevo in August.
"Maybe he did not know what to say. But we did not receive concrete answers to concrete questions," she said.
Most of the male relatives of the perished crewmembers are professional Navy officers, Tylik said (including her husband Nikolai, a submarine officer with 20 years experience), and believe that the cause of the tragedy was an explosion of two experimental torpedoes, one of which was leaking.
"My son said six days before the tragedy that the Kursk had 'death onboard,' but he didn't explain what he meant," she said.
"I am sure that the commanders of the Northern Fleet knew that the torpedoes were not in order. Those who are guilty must be punished.