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Sunday, 12 August, 2001, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Russia grieves for Kursk dead
Grave of Kursk crew member Dmitry Kolesnikov
Services were held throughout Russia
Families of the 118 who died aboard the Russian submarine Kursk have attended a memorial service marking the first anniversary of the disaster.

Three hundred relatives gathered to lay flowers at the site of a planned memorial to the seamen in the Kursk's home port Vidyayevo, near Murmansk.

I don't know who to blame

Kursk victim's mother
The weeping mourners, who had arrived on Russia's Kola peninsula on Saturday, held a minute's silence in front of a monument honouring all Russian submariners lost at sea.

There was disappointment at the absence of President Vladimir Putin, who only sent a wreath to the ceremony.

Operations to raise the doomed submarine are continuing on the seabed - although the front section, which could yield clues as to what went wrong is to be cut off and left on the bottom.

Pain and grief

Sunday's ceremony was the first time that the families of the crew had all got together since the disaster and for many it proved almost too much.

It is extremely important to know the reasons for this disaster

Admiral Kuroyedov
They sobbed as they held a minute's silence before filing past the submariners' monument, to lay red carnations for those they had lost.

The head of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, offered words of comfort to the relatives.

"It is extremely important to know the reasons for this disaster," he said.

As the rain paused and the sun broke through, a guard of honour laid wreaths to the sound of a beating drum and military band.

Kursk-type sub
118 men died inside the submarine

The relatives then moved on to cast wreaths into the icy waters of the Barents Sea, which claimed the lives of the crew, and a submarine salute rang out across the bay.

Services have been held throughout Russia - in St Petersburg about 150 people gathered at the Serafimovskoe cemetery, just north of the city, where two of the 12 crew whose bodies were recovered in November are buried.

One of the two was Dmitry Kolesnikov, whose last words to his wife, written in the darkness at the rear of the sub while he waited to die, were found in a pocket of his uniform.

His mother Irina is still seeking an explanation for the disaster. "I don't know who to blame," she said.

Seeking answers

The families of the men who died have since received compensation, they have been given free accommodation - but as yet they have not been given any answers.

The BBC's correspondent in Murmansk says many fear that they will be unable to put the past behind them until they have had the truth about the sinking from the Russian navy.

Russian woman remembering the Kursk victims
For relatives the memory is still raw

They also feel let down by the decision to raise the submarine.

Correspondents say that many relatives claim that the attempt to raise the Kursk has brought back painful memories and they want the submarine left where it is.

Russian officials have suggested the submarine may have collided with another vessel or object, but outsiders have blamed an internal malfunction.

Now the front section of the ship, which could yield the clues necessary to resolve the mystery is to be cut off and left at the bottom - navy officials say it is too dangerous to be raised.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
reports from Russia
The BBC's Steve Rosenberg
"Russians are as determined as ever to keep the memory alive"
See also:

12 Aug 01 | Europe
Spectre of Kursk haunts Putin
10 Aug 01 | Europe
Kursk lifting 'on course'
07 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
New theory for Kursk sinking
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