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© Press-service of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry

Volga tragedy - custody for suspect ship operator

by at 14/07/2011 11:17



The recriminations over the Volga river disaster are continuing, with the managing director of the company running the “Bulgaria” being taken into custody.

Although Svetlana Inyakina’s lawyers argued that she should not be locked up because she needed to take care of her young son, a court in Kazan ruled that the Argorechtur chief must be detained to ensure she did not destroy any documents pertaining to the case.

While that was going on, one of the vessel’s previous owners told Moskovsky Komsomolets that his firm had sold the ship 20 years ago due to safety concerns.

And rescue workers confirmed the identities of 102 victims of Sunday’s tragedy.


Behind bars

Inyakina’s Argorechtur, which leased the “Bulgaria” from the Kama River Shipping Company, had already been subject to police raids and Inyakina had been formally charged.

But there were fears that if the company boss was at large she might take the opportunity to dispose of potentially damning documents and pressure witnesses to support her case.

As a result a court in Kazan ruled that both Inyakina and local river safety chief Yakov Ivashov, who awarded the ship a safety certificate, should be detained.

She will be held for two months, Interfax reported. If convicted of safety breaches resulting in the deaths of two or more people, she and Ivashov could face 10 years in jail.


Safety fears

The age of the “Bulgaria”, which had been built in 1955, was picked out as a cause of the disaster.

And it emerged that the ship’s previous owner, Ruslan Ibragimov, had sold it because he felt it was too old to carry passengers safely, MK reported.

The same paper claimed that many crew members had voiced their reluctance to set sail on the aging cruiser, fearing for their lives.

That echoed concerns about criminal negligence raised by transport industry experts.


Raising the wreck

With the fate of 20 passengers still unconfirmed and the grim task of identifying the dead continuing, the official death toll stands at 116, with 102 people identified.

On Saturday work will start on raising the boat from its resting place 20 meters below the waves, 3 km from the shore of the Kuibyshev Reservoir in Tatarstan.

Once back on dry land it is hoped that investigators will be able to determine what sank the boat, though Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry has already denied media reports that there was an explosion on board.

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