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Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Sombre media continues to question
Russian Public TV screen caption
'In Eternal Memory' - Russian TV stations mark the day of mourning for the Kursk
Russia's TV and radio channels on Wednesday cancelled many of their scheduled broadcasts to mark the day of national mourning declared for the lost crew of the Kursk.

Entertainment and music programmes, as well as advertisements, comedies and sitcoms were replaced on most stations by films or features about the "good old days" or the years of the Second World War, such as "Ballad of a Soldier".

The roll-call of the crew of the Kursk, which the Russian navy took many days to release, received repeated screenings.

Russian newspapers, meanwhile, continued their onslaught over the handling of the Kursk disaster.

Unanswered questions

The mass-circulation Komsomolskaya Pravda printed a list of 28 questions it said were as yet unanswered in the Kursk saga.

They included demands for such basic facts as: When exactly did the Kursk sink?, "Why were the first announcements on the incident involving the submarine unabashed lies?", and "Why were the lists of the dying crew top secret?"

The paper also called for an answer as to why the Lenok, the Northern Fleet's only rescue submarine, was sold off several years ago for scrap.

Doubt over Putin's role

But Komsomolskaya Pravda assumed a milder tone when turning to President Putin's role in the aftermath of the sinking.


In what other country will anyone go to sea in full knowledge that there will be no rescue in the event of an accident?

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Conceding that his actions in recent days had been "a mistake - probably his biggest mistake since he entered the Kremlin", the paper added: "According to information from Kremlin sources, the president has realized, albeit late, that he acted inappropriately, that there was a moral aspect involved, that the country needed simple human compassion".

"Accusing Putin of sophisticated cynicism, presenting him as a cold-blooded and heartless monster, making him appear the main culprit in the tragedy - all this is going too far".

The independent Nezavisimaya Gazeta was more outspoken.

"What offended so-called public opinion the most was something to do with Putin personally. The president turned out to be incapable of compassion with the grieving of other people - otherwise he would never have carried on with his holiday", the paper said.

Trud turned its attention to the apparent delays in beginning the rescue effort.

"The main question is: could we have rescued at least some of the crew, or was the fatal outcome predetermined?" the paper asked, arguing that the British and Norwegian divers might have had time to save lives had Russia asked for foreign help earlier.

Spin

The leading daily Izvestiya was scathing in its assessment.

Reporting President Putin's decision to fly to northern Russia to meet the relatives of the crew, it commented: "The second part of a propaganda campaign codenamed 'How to put a spin on the Kursk tragedy and its political repercussions' is being played out before our eyes".

It accused the Kremlin of "meaning all along to conduct a clever and coordinated PR campaign aimed at saving the face of the authorities".

Rossiyskaya Gazeta was equally critical. It posed a rhetorical question:

"Now at least you must realize, dear compatriots, what a magnificent navy we had and still have! In what other country will anyone go to sea in full knowledge that there will be no rescue in the event of an accident?"

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.

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