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Russia mourns on Kursk anniversary

Moscow memorial service
Mourners hold candles at a Kursk memorial service in Moscow.  


MOSCOW, Russia -- Russians are in mourning for the 118 Kursk crew members who died when their submarine sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea a year ago.

The first in a series of memorial services began on Saturday, but the main anniversary ceremony will be held on Sunday in Vidyayevo, where the Kursk submariners were based.

All those on board the nuclear submarine perished when the Kursk exploded and sank on August 12 last year.

Relatives of the crew began arriving in Vidyayevo during the weekend.

Another service will be held at St Petersburg, where the 12 bodies recovered last year are buried.

A memorial service was held on Saturday in Moscow's St. John the Warrior, one of the capital's most striking and well-known churches.

VIDEO
Relatives of the doomed Russian submarine Kursk gather to remember their loved ones. CNN's Rym Brahimi reports (Aug 11)

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Also a small, sombre ceremony was held on Saturday at a high school in Vidyayevo. A plaque bearing the names of eight of the dead who had attended the school during their childhood was unveiled, Russian news reports said.

Ludmila Safonova, mother of Maxim a lieutenant on board the Kursk, was reported by Reuters as telling ORT television at Vidyayevo: "This is the only thing we can do now, to come together and talk, to lay down flowers.

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"These places pull us in. We used to come here to visit our son. Now when I see this landscape -- it is painful."

An international team of divers is working on the floor of the Barents Sea, bolting cables to the 150-metre (490 ft) long submarine so that part of it can be hoisted to the surface as part of a $65 million salvage project next month.

Divers, who have finished cutting holes in the outer and inner hulls of the fifth, seventh and eighth compartments, began working on the third and fourth, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. Work on slicing off the fore section could begin on Sunday.

But the bow, where the torpedoes were kept, will not be part of the plans because Russian officials say it is too damaged to be moved. They add it may be recovered in the future.

Yelena Kolovanova, whose brother Mikhail Radionov was aboard the Kursk, said she supported the raising operation, but opposed the Navy's plan to leave the bow on the seabed.

The Kursk sank after a massive explosion in the front section.
The Kursk sank after a massive explosion in the front section.  

"If the fore section is not raised, we will never know what caused it," she said.

Officials say the explosions that tore apart the Kursk, one of Russia's most advanced vessels, apparently were caused by a torpedo.

But what prompted the torpedo blast remains unclear. Many Russians have said it was likely to have been a collision with a foreign vessel, but other observers say an internal malfunction was the most likely explanation.

A Web site about the Kursk salvage operation -- www.kursk141.org -- was set up by the Russian government last week and provides regular news conferences and live reports.






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• Official Kursk Website
• Kursk Foundation
• Kursk Salvage
• Russian Government
• Russian national news agency

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