ΠΟΣΟ ΕΠΗΡΕΑΣΕ ΤΗΝ ΛΗΨΗ ΑΠΟΦΑΣΕΩΝ ΤΟΝ ΠΟΥΤΙΝ Η ΤΡΑΓΩΔΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΥΡΗΝΟΚΙΝΗΤΟΥ ΥΠΟΒΡΥΧΙΟΥ KURSK ΠΟΥ ΧΑΘΗΚΕ ΑΥΤΑΝΔΡΟ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΑΓΩΜΕΝΗ ΘΑΛΑΣΣΑ ΤΟΥ ΜΟΥΡΜΑΝΣΚ.Jack Doyle,Ozy Fri, Oct 14
In a seismic reading station in Alaska, needles jumped unexpectedly. At first glance, researchers thought they were looking at a natural seismic event. It was clearly somewhere far away, but it was significant — 4.2 on the Richter scale, the kind of earthquake that knocks picture frames off walls.The truth was far more violent.
Thousands of miles away, two massive explosions had just ripped through a vessel the size of two 747s. Amid a giant Russian naval exercise, a submarine called the Kursk had been cruising through the Barents Sea, off the coast of Russia and Finland. Within seconds, it had gone from being the pride of the navy to a death trap, sinking with 118 souls aboard.
There are 23 of us here.… None of us can get out.Exactly what happened on Aug. 12, 2000, remains unknown because the submarine sank with live warheads aboard, spawning plenty of conspiracy theories. But much of the Kursk’s dark mystery relates to Russia massively mishandling all rescue attempts — and then trying to cover up the disaster. At the time, Russian authorities accused U.S. and British submarines of spying on their naval exercises — so closely, they insisted, that one collided with the Kursk. Americans, meanwhile, muttered that the Russians must have had some kind of new, deadly weapon on board to produce such a giant explosion.
president as the beginning of a new era. “Under President Putin,” Clinton had said two months earlier, “Russia has the chance to build prosperity and strength while safeguarding the rule of law.” Indeed, the Kursk disaster presented Putin with the opportunity to reach out for international assistance, but he decided against it, setting precedent for the rest of his tenure.
Things came to a head when Putin gave a press conference 10 days after the accident. A woman in a traditional Russian headscarf stood up, shaking her fists and berating Putin, her voice trembling with rage. The Russian president himself was completely unlike the shark-eyed, thin-lipped man of steel we know today. Crouching defensively at the podium, Putin spoke softly and hesitantly. He looked pale and diminutive and very much not in charge as he tried to defend the government’s shaky relationship with the truth. Lawyer Boris Kuznetsov, who represented 55 families of Kursk sailors and later sought political asylum in the U.S., would write that it was Putin’s “worst moment.”
And indeed it was a moment Putin was determined not to repeat. He accused the media of “exploiting” the Kursk disaster for political purposes — and tipped Russia toward its present-day media repression. The Kursk could have been a moment when the world came together over a horrific tragedy. But the Cold War was not as over as it seemed.