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April 5, 2016 , , , , ,

The Tent cut from inside?

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T]he investigation of the Dyatlov Pass case concluded that the abandoned tent was cut from the inside. Modern experts, however, express some doubts about the accuracy of this conclusion and the expertise of the investigators. Natalia Sakharova, a retired criminal expert with 25 years of service, says there had to be at least two experts according to the procedure. In this particular case the examination was performed at a very low professional level. There is no general photo of the tent stretched out in the laboratory to be examined. The diagram of the damage doesn’t fit its actual location on the tent; there is no detailed description of the inner and outer sides (burns, scratches, traces of mending, blood). The damage is described selectively, which is a serious violation because it distorts the general picture of the traces; there are no descriptions of common signs of damage which would allow the grouping of the signs in order to define the group characteristics for the tools used (knives or ice breaker). There is no description of general signs for the tears, the direction (or angle) of force applied (from inside or outside); no description of the initial point of the impact (from which the cut or tearing started); no microscope photography to confirm the main point that the cuts were made from the inside. There is no such photography in the criminal case! And it has been in full use since the 1930s! There is no reliable description of what was seen through the microscope: the direction of the scarf parts of the cuts, the separation of their fibres, or the direction of the thread sockets. Nothing at all! I think the expert didn’t use the microscope because for this she would have had to dissect part of the fabric and enter a relevant record about it in her report. What is also extremely unusual is that they didn’t invite any experts to view the place of occurrence. It is also important to mention that there were no expert experiments performed with the same kind of tent. They should have cut a tent from the inside in exactly the same way and have several people exit it in order to see if it is possible to exit the tent in this way at all, and how it would affect the tent. Would it fall, or spring back, or remain standing? This kind of experiment usually proves or disproves a theory of the investigation. It was never done. Why? It was absolutely not OK to come to any conclusion based on just visual examination. The very fact that they used this inexperienced and poorly trained “expert” is an alerting sign for me because the results of the expertise were crucial for the whole case. I believe that this investigation is absolutely not trustworthy and the conclusion that the tent was cut from inside is not proved.
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March 31, 2016 , , , , , ,

Missing Photo Scales

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Some notes on the forensic photography and missing packages.

Natalia Sakharova, a retired police colonel with 25 years of service, used to be an expert in a police department in one of the most criminal districts of Irkutsk. She also has additional education as a medical doctor and currently works at the Criminal Expert Bureau. Having scrutinized the full Criminal Case for the Dyatlov’s group, she now shares what she thinks. She has a lot to say about the investigation and her comments are very interesting. I am currently updating my book with them and wanted to share some with you.

“The photography allows us to obtain the most objective picture of the place of occurrence and thus is the most trust worthy information. But this is exactly what is missing in this case. Instead we have many subjective and controversial testimonies of the witnesses.

The professionally performed photo scales are missing altogether. Photo scales are special photos performed in accordance with the rules of forensic photography (they are to be taken from several different points. Main points would be – the tent pictured from 4 sides, things inside and detailed pictures of the damage with the scale ruler). But what we have is just random amateur pictures.
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May 10, 2015 , , , ,

Chelyabinsk Meteorite

After the meteor exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia in February 2013 I was contacted by one person who said there was a connection between this phenomen and something what happened in the sky in February of 1959 when the Dyatlov Group died.

Certain meteor showers occur during the exact same month and days every year (see, for example, the Leonids in November and the Perseids in August which are among the most intense meteor showers of the year). Also in the case of a major meteor shower the ‘radiant’ (the point from where the majority of meteors appear to come from in the sky) is the same every year.

This made one Russian, Michael Budarin to come up with a theory that a celestial body was responsible for the event. Below is his explanation:

Maslinokov remarked “the tent was stretched on skis and sticks that had been planted into the snow, and its entrance faced South. From the South the apex was intact but the apex poles had been ripped out at the North end causing it to collapse and later to be covered by snow.  There was not too much snow, just what had accumulated from snowstorms during the weeks of February”. It is interesting that the weather records for the Ivdel region on the day of the deaths, do not indicate snow. The precipitation was less than 0.5mm. The wind was Northern or North West at less than 1-3 metres per second. There was no recorded snow storm or hurricane. This means that the wind, whose highest peak was 3 m/s (=11 km per hour) could not affect the end poles of the tent, especially since they had so effectively shielded it with snow barriers. In its deep hole the tent caught no wind and could not act as a sail.  The ropes were observed to be strong and would have required a major blast to have knocked them down.
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April 28, 2015 , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 1959

February 1959, Ural Mountains, Russia. Nine missing skiers found dead. Cause: unknown.

The story sounds like something out of a low-budget horror movie: nine young students go on a skiing holiday in Russia’s Ural Mountains but never return. Eventually, their bodies are discovered – five of them frozen to death near their tent, four more bearing mysterious injuries – a smashed head, a missing tongue – buried in the snow some distance away. All, it seems, had fled in sudden terror from their camp in the middle of the night. Casting aside skis, food and warm coats, they dashed headlong down a snowy slope toward a thick forest, where they stood no chance of surviving bitter temperatures of around –30ºC (–22ºF). At the time, seemingly baffled investigators offered the non-explanation that the group had died as a result of “a compelling unknown force” – and then simply closed the case and filed it as ‘Top Secret’.

After half a century, the mystery remains. What was the nature of the deadly “unknown force”? Were the Soviet authorities hiding something? And, if so, exactly what were they were attempting to cover up? In the intervening years, a number of solutions have been put forward, involving everything from hostile tribes and abominable snowmen to aliens and secret military technology.
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April 14, 2015 , , , , , , , , ,

Cold and Bears

Bumbling travelers forget cold and bears

Yury Nadezhdin, a rescue worker in the Far North, does not like winter. For him, it means people doing stupid things – and killing themselves in the process.

“I always look toward winter with a feeling of dread”, said Nadezhdin, who has led the Murmansk region’s search and rescue team for the past decade.

This winter has been relatively injury-free so far, he said, but six thrill-seekers died last winter on the slopes of mountains that his team had marked as off-limits.

“I will never forget the girl from St. Petersburg who was caught in an avalanche last winter,” Nadezhdin said. “She could have survived. We found her quickly, a half-hour after receiving the call. But all our efforts to resuscitate her were in vain”.

The 29-year-old woman was among a group of four covered by an avalanche while snowboarding on Aikuaivenchorr Mountain, near Kirovsk, 150 kilometers south of Murmansk. At least one of her companions, Alex Mamontov, also could have survived because he was buried under only 80 centimeters of snow, Nadezhdin said. Rescuers failed to find him in time because he had neglected to wear a snowsuit with a satellite tracking device.
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May 4, 2011 , , , , , , , , ,

A Father’s Crime

Russian father’s desperate crime to save his son

Faryusa Kostina holding Sasha. The boy received a new liver in Belgium.

Fayrusa Kostina, a nurse from Chelyabinsk, has not explained to her son why his father went to prison. She never told anyone before she brought her son Sasha, now 6, to the St. Luc University Clinic in Brussels, for a liver transplant.

But on Friday, she was finally ready to tell how her husband had tried to hold up an armored car in a rash attempt to secure money for their boy’s operation. She spoke because health authorities confirmed on Friday that they were finally legalizing the operation that saved her son’s life — a child-to-child organ transplant.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Development Ministry said Friday that guidelines were being prepared that would allow the transplants. “The guidelines are now being discussed by doctors and will be implemented in several months”, the spokeswoman said.
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May 4, 2011 , , , , , , , , ,

Traveling to Russia

Easy to get in mess, hard to get out while traveling to Russia

He calls his conviction and pardon on espionage charges a nightmare.

Edmond Pope considers himself lucky to have escaped 20 years in prison. But the U.S. businessman says he can do nothing about the nightmares that started with his arrest on espionage charges in 2000.

“I enjoy life here, but my days in Lefortovo jail will remain with me the rest of my life”, Pope, 61, said by telephone from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Pope, who owned two companies brokering the sale of Russian technology, spent 253 days locked up in Moscow’s Lefortovo jail after his arrest on April 3, 2000. A court went on to convict him of acquiring classified blueprints of high-speed torpedoes, and he was freed under a presidential amnesty on Dec. 14.

It is rather easy for foreigners to get into trouble in Russia, even if they are not interested in torpedo blueprints, said Pavel Astakhov, the lawyer who defended Pope.


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May 4, 2011 , , , , , , , , ,

Russian Disabled

Russian Disabled Stuck in a Separate World

Igor Tabakov / MT ─ To cope with life in Moscow, including getting up and down the city’s many staircases, wheelchair users often have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Every morning, Vadim Voyevodin performed the same ritual: Bending over almost parallel to the ground, he lifted the baby onto his back, slung a towel around his son and knotted the edges around his chest. The little boy remained pressed close to his father’s body throughout the day as he cleaned the house or cooked.

“I always dreamed of having a child, but I never imagined that this dream would come true at a time when I was single and handicapped,” says Voyevodin, 59, who lives in a one-room apartment in northern Moscow with his son, now 16, who is also named Vadim.

Voyevodin has not left the apartment in more than 10 years. Many disabled Muscovites, especially those with spinal problems, are effectively locked within the four walls of their homes — doorways and elevators are rarely big enough for wheelchairs, and the Moscow metro and bus systems are not designed for people with disabilities.
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May 4, 2011 , , , , , , , , ,

A Foreigner’s Nightmare

A Foreigner’s Nightmare in Dubrovka

Igor Tabakov / MT ─ A government sniper targeting the front entrance to the Dubrokva theater from a nearby building on Oct. 24, 2002.

When Svetlana Gubareva woke up in the intensive care ward of a Moscow hospital, one of the first things she heard was President Vladimir Putin offering condolences to the families of the 129 hostages who died in the Dubrovka theater.

Gubareva wondered what had happened to her fiance, a U.S. citizen, and 13-year-old daughter, who like herself was from Kazakhstan. But Putin did not utter a word about the foreign victims of the 56-hour stand-off, which began five years ago this Tuesday when 42 Chechen rebels stormed the theater in southeastern Moscow during a performance of the “Nord Ost” musical.

The omission would have been insignificant if it were not for the fact that it encapsulates the way that authorities have blithely ignored the foreigners taken hostage in the attack, refusing to assist them in any way or even offer them the small compensation handed out to Russian citizens, Gubareva and others said.
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May 4, 2011 , , , , , ,

Russian Contraception

Sales statistics show that the sales of birth-control pills in Russia start going up in May and remain higher than usual throughout the summer. Encouraged by the warmth and sunlight and anticipated vacations, it seems that Russian women want to be prepared for whatever may come their way.

The number of Russian women who use the pill as their primary form of birth control remains low – only between 3 and 13 percent, according to various surveys. The corresponding figure in Europe is 52 percent.

“I hate pills. They make me fat and kill my libido,” said Irina, a manager at an IT company who declined to give her last name. Women discussing taking the pill on Internet forums voiced similar complaints.

“When I start taking pills, I feel no desire for sex. So then why bother to take them?” says a woman with the handle Netochka. Others found it next to impossible to take them at the same time every day.

It would certainly be an overstatement to say that the pill helped facilitate a sexual revolution in Russia the way it once did in the West. Intrauterine devices (IUD), which appeared in the early 1980s, were much more “revolutionary” in terms of introducing modern contraception to Russia.
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The Tent cut from inside?
Missing Photo Scales
Chelyabinsk Meteorite
February 1959
Cold and Bears
A Father’s Crime
Traveling to Russia
Russian Disabled
A Foreigner’s Nightmare
Russian Contraception