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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 04:01 GMT
Kursk inquiry admirals punished
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with those who helped to raise the Kursk
'Serious failures,' said the navy commander
The head of Russia's Northern Fleet, Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, has been demoted and other officers dismissed for "serious failures," the commander-in-chief of the Russian navy said.

There was no indication that the punishments were connected with the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine during a naval exercise more than a year ago.

Former commander of Russia's Northern Fleet, Admiral Vyacheslav Popov
Popov: Demoted after report into Kursk disaster
But the move came on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin said an official report showed it was still too early to say what caused the Kursk disaster - the worst of its kind in Russian naval history.

Naval commander Vladimir Kuroyedov was quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying that the officers punished had been guilty of "serious failures in the organisation of the military training activities of the fleet".

Admiral Popov and Northern Fleet chief-of-staff, Vice-Admiral Mikhail Motsak, have been demoted, and officers from the Northern Fleet and the Russian Navy had been "sacked and received other disciplinary sanctions", he was quoted as saying.

The Kursk sank in the icy waters of the Barents Sea after two unexplained explosions.

Mr Putin said it was Russia's moral duty to recover the submarine and give a decent burial to those who had lost their lives.

Vladimir Panarin weeps on the coffin of his son Andrei
Relatives of the dead are still angry
A total of 69 bodies have been recovered from the vessel, which has been raised from the seabed and is now back in port.

The demotions and disciplinary action in the navy were announced almost immediately after the Prosecutor General, Vladimir Ustinov, briefed Mr Putin on the preliminary investigation into the Kursk disaster.

Mr Putin is reported to have criticized the navy's preparations for military exercises, which the Kursk was taking part in when it sank.

See also:

17 Nov 01 | Europe
Eleven Kursk victims buried
23 Oct 01 | Europe
Kursk investigators examine sub
07 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
New theory for Kursk sinking
03 Dec 01 | Europe
In pictures: Kursk on the surface
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