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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Press split over Black Sea crash
The explosion of the Russian airliner which crashed into the Black Sea killing up to 78 people dominates the pages of the Russian press.

Kommersant describes it simply as "Another One". There are pictures of grieving relatives of some of the people who died. It says the plane is one of the workhorses of the aviation fleet in Russia but it has a poor safety record and mechanical failure is cited as one of the possible reasons for the crash.

Another possible explanation, though, is terrorist attack. And one paper, the Independent which is owned by one of Russia's most powerful men, Boris Berezovsky, plumps for this. Its headline is "Tragedy which should never have happened" and it berates the international community for not heeding Russia's warnings of the threat of international terrorism sooner. It says Russia is lucky that the plane was blown up over the sea and not flown into a high-rise block. The paper also underlines the fears that many people have of terrorist attacks - saying people are concerned about their own personal security and reluctant to stay in their own homes.

Crash locator map
But the leading daily Izvestia says terrorism is probably not the most likely explanation for the crash. Firstly it points out that there were no Arabs on board the flight and secondly that Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv is one of the most secure in the world.

For this reason it comes down in favour of an accidental strike during military training exercises by the Ukrainians. Although the Ukrainians have denied responsibility, the paper says they have a less than perfect record. A few years ago, during training exercises again, a rocket went off course and landed in a house.

Ukraine press unhappy

Meanwhile the Ukranian press is unhappy about the manner of apportioning blame.

The leading daily Den highlights the fact that the Russian media had wasted no time in blaming the Ukrainian army for the plane crash.

The air defence exercise linked to the disaster was a joint Ukrainian-Russian one, it was quick to point out.

"As soon as news of the Russian Tu-154 plane crash broke yesterday, some Russian and Western media rushed to blame the Ukrainian armed forces. This was done in complete absence of any official information," Den said.

"While all the versions of the disaster are being studied, it is obvious that the reputation of joint Ukrainian-Russian exercises remains at stake."

See also:

05 Jul 01 | Europe
Russia mourns plane crash victims
04 Jul 01 | Europe
How safe is the Tu-154?
03 Jul 01 | Europe
Russia's shaky air safety record
05 Oct 01 | World Cup 2002
Fifa calls off Israel match
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