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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. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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