Wargame Friendly Fire
Sank Kursk Says Official
Inquiry Member
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's ill-fated Kursk nuclear submarine was probably sunk by a misfired torpedo during naval wargames, Interfax reported.
Lawmaker Sergei Zhekov, a member of a parliamentary probe into the disaster, said the "Peter the Great" nuclear cruiser had launched five missiles in the wake of a mock attack by the Kursk, but only four were found after the training exercise.
"It looks most probable that the submarine was hit by the missing torpedo missile and when it tried to surface, collided with a Russian ship," Zhekov told the daily Vladivostok newspaper on Thursday.
Zhekov's claim came a week after Germany's Berliner Zeitung daily reported that Russian security services had concluded the nuclear-powered submarine sank after being hit by a torpedo from the Peter the Great.
The Kremlin at that time dismissed the newspaper report as "an invention" while Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo also categorically denied Zhekov's claims Thursday, the private NTV television channel said.
Zhekov, a former submarine officer, said the official Russian version of the Barents Sea tragedy, suggesting the submarine sank after a collision with a foreign, probably US or British, submarine, was untenable.
Zhekov said the events leading up to the disaster would become clear after the submarine was recovered from the sea bed and examined.
Meanwhile Vladimir Urban, a naval expert with military news agency AVN, expressed scepticism about Zhekov's claims, saying that military sources insisted that the Peter the Great had fired no torpedoes on the day the Kursk sank.
"If the Peter the Great did in fact fire torpedoes that day, I could believe that one misfired and hit the Kursk," he told AFP.
"But you couldn't keep something like that hushed up. There's a crew of 800 on the Peter the Great, someone would have spilled the beans," Urban added.
Klebanov has pledged that his commission will reveal the definitive causes of the Kursk disaster but Zhekov warned the government not to attempt a cover-up when it published the findings.
"They will not manage to hush up the reasons for this tragedy. As a lawmaker, a former submariner and a human being, I will do my best to make the truth public and see that the culprits are punished," he told the newspaper.
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