Kursk Letter Opens Old Wounds

ByABC News
October 27, 2000, 7:18 AM

Oct. 27 -- A wave of grief and anger against the government for its slow and confused response to the Kursk accident has spread through Russia following the recovery of a desperate letter from one of the crew members.

The letter, found on the body of 27-year-old Lt. Dmitry R. Kolesnikov showed that at least 23 people survived the powerful explosions that killed most of the crew of the Russian nuclear submarine on Aug, 12 and sunk the vessel, sealing the fate of the rest.

The Kursk crew has been buried alive, Veronika Marchenko,the head of the anti-military Mothers Right association, said in a statement issued today. The government was trying to solve all possible problems, such as concealing the tragedy, protecting military secrets, raising the plummeting popularity of the president, paying off too persistent relatives or hushing up honest journalists. All except one: acting quickly to save the crew.

We should think what to do to make the government valuecitizens lives more than oil, military secrets or its ownprestige.

The outpourings came as stormy seas prevented divers fromentering the Kursk today, days after Russian divers recovered four bodies from the Kursks eighth and ninth compartments. The letter was discovered Thursday.

Winds of up to 56 miles per hour and a force sixgale in the Barents Sea kept divers away from the wreck today because of the danger of being jerked about on their tethers, said Northern Fleet spokesman Capt. Vladimir Navrotsky.

The weather is worsening, with a snowstorm raging around the rescue site, he said, adding that the storm was expected to continue throughout the day.

Horrifying Story, Grisly Indictment

The recovery of the letter was the first firm indication that some of the sailors had remained alive for at least several hours after the powerful explosions that sankthe submarine.

Fragments from Kolesnikovs message told a horrifying story of the submariners struggle for life, saying that 23 survivors of the blasts had gathered in a compartment in the stern, hoping to get out through the escape hatch.