RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 4, No. 204, Part I, 20 October 2000

NAVY COMMANDER WARNS 'KURSK' RECOVERY OPERATION MAY BE CALLED OFF... Following contradictory comments by Russian officials over the prospects for recovering at least some of the bodies of the 118-strong crew of the sunken "Kursk" nuclear submarine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 2000), the Navy commander has suggested that the recovery operation may not take place. Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov said in a statement on 19 October that if an analysis of the situation inside the submarine indicates that the divers will be exposed to a high level of danger, "I, as the chief commander of the navy, will be forced to give the order to cancel the operation," Interfax reported. Besides the extreme cold and darkness 100 meters beneath the water's surface, the divers would also have to contest with "jagged metal debris floating in the wreck," Reuters quoted experts as pointing out. JC ...AS CAPTAIN'S WIDOW RESIGNS FROM COMMISSION HELPING VICTIMS' FAMILIES. Irina Lyachina, the widow of the captain of the "Kursk" who perished in the August sinking of the submarine, has resigned from a commission overseeing the distribution of government and private funds for the families of the victims of the tragedy. In a letter published by "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 19 October, Lyachina said "there is no talk about help for the 'Kursk' crew member families." She pointed out that the commission had decided to spend 23,000 rubles ($821) on a commemorative book about the accident for libraries and schools and 5,000 rubles on mailing "thank you" letters to donors. According to NTV, the combined total of government funds and private donations for the "Kursk" victims' families is some 118 million ($4.2 million). JC

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