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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Press shifts air crash blame
Aircraft wreck
Pilot error was said to be the primary cause of the crash

Ukraine's papers show some sympathy for the pilots of the jet which caused the world's worst air show disaster in the city of Lviv at the end of July.

The official report said that while pilot error was the primary cause, the organizers of the event were guilty of failure to provide adequate safety measures and of other operational shortcomings.

"The direct cause of the crash was a deviation from the flight plan - however not only the pilots are at fault," says the headline in the popular pro-presidential Fakty i Kommentarii.


Pilot Toponar had never performed such a manoeuvre before

Yevzhen Marchuk

The article suggests that the pilot was not given the opportunity to prepare properly.

No rehearsal

"A test run had been planned for 26 July, the pilot of the aircraft that crashed, Volodymyr Toponar, had asked for it," the paper says.

The government paper Uryadovyy Kuryer makes the same point.

It highlights a statement by the head of the commission of inquiry, Yevzhen Marchuk, that "Pilot Toponar had never performed such a manoeuvre before".

The centre-right Ukrayina Moloda, which leans towards the opposition, has on its front page an emotional picture of a couple crying and a worried-looking Mr Marchuk under the deliberately ambiguous headline: "The guilty ejected".

This refers not ony to the pilots' escape, but also to the spate of sackings of top military officials that followed the crash.

Marchuk headed enquiry

The paper then focuses Mr Marchuk's criticism of the local authorities, who had given permission for the air show to go ahead.

"If the authorities give permission, then they also bear responsibility," he is quoted as saying.

"Even the president of Ukraine cannot interfere in an issue if the local authorities fails to give permission for an air show to be held," the paper adds.

Medicine shortage

Another popular daily, Segodnya, ignores the findings of Mr Marchuk's commission.

Instead it runs a story on a shortage of medical supplies in Lviv, the city where the accident happened.

This theme is also tackled by the serious daily Den, whose editor-in-chief is Mr Marchuk's wife.

A front-page article follows Mr Marchuk's heartbreaking visit to the hospital, where the victims are being treated.

But at the same time the paper strongly denies any hint of medicine shortages.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

07 Aug 02 | Europe
05 Aug 02 | Europe
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