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uncovering the kursk cover up

Published: February 21, 2003 (Issue # 845)


Moore, relying on the British and Norwegian experts who joined the rescue operation, provides a vivid account of the last desperate efforts to open the hatch. At one point, foreign divers were struggling to open a key valve that would indicate whether there was still air behind the hatch. Russian experts at the surface insisted that the valve must be opened counter-clockwise, and they said it would break if turned the other way. The valve didn't budge. After debate, the divers tried turning it clockwise - and the valve moved. The Russians were wrong about a simple valve on one of their most technologically advanced ships.

Moore's narration is fast-paced, but he disappoints on sources and offers no footnotes. With few exceptions, he does not indicate to the reader what information came from his own interviews and research and what was taken from other sources. Overall, however, his findings parallel those of the official investigation, which was closed last summer.

Although Moore lightly sketches the role of President Vladimir Putin, who was acutely embarrassed by criticism of his slow reaction to the disaster, he does not delve into the implications for today's Russia. The tragedy was a telling example of how the Soviet legacy still lingers. The Kursk families and the Russian people were repeatedly misled by the authorities. In the absence of a strong civil society, Russian leaders still assume they don't have to communicate with the people they govern. Until they do, the most important lessons of the Kursk disaster will not have been learned.

David E. Hoffman is foreign editor of The Washington Post.

"A Time to Die: The Untold Story of the Kursk Tragedy." By Robert Moore. Crown. 271 pp. $25.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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