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In October 1983, a relatively small area of the Sea of Japan was exceptionally active. Now when we finally have cost accounting, (including military expenditures), it would be interesting to know at the same time the cost of this spectacle, that played out in the ocean depths and on its surface 7 years ago. What could it have cost to bring in 20 fishing boats (eye witnesses cite this number) to give the appearance of fishing, that is using not the army, but civilians and experts? Those who were "fishing" not far from Moneron, state that they received full wages even from their own accounting offices. And you know, that what took place was not an war time operation, when expenses are not considered. This operation was only to deceive with great success our own people and the foreigners.
All the while, the divers, of whom there are probably not more that 50 in the same class as those from the Murmansk "Sprut" in the whole country, were sitting idle in a dormitory near the town of Kholmsk till the end of September. This was reported during a meeting with our reporter, Sergej Mostovshchikov, by the Chief of the Diving Service of the Industrial Association "ArktiMorNefteGazRazvedka", Vladimir Vasilevich Zakharchenko.
After we were taken so urgently by helicopter "Sprut" at sea and flown to Severomorsk, they told us that there was urgent work on Sakhalin and we had to go there. We would receive our assignment there. They did not explain what type or work. At that time, we still didn't know anything; we never saw a newspaper on the "Sprut."
Only after we boarded a military aircraft, during radio conversations, via the grapevine as they say, did we learn that a passenger "Boeing" had been shot down! During the flight to Moscow, it became perfectly clear what we personally were supposed to do. The only thing we didn't know was what the depth of the water was. In Moscow, two more people from headquarters joined us and we continued on toward Sakhalin. Everything took place in a terrible hurry. We were met in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and taken to a dormitory on the base.
And there they forgot about us. We were left on our own till the end of the month...
Only at the end of September did the military trawlers take all of us to the drilling ship, Mikhail Mirchink", and officially give us our assignment - find the aircraft!
We are going to interrupt Zakharchenko's story and go to a witness, who saw what happened on the "Mirchink" before the divers finally arrived.
...Zhan Andreevich Aleshchenko, as my Far East colleague Stanislav Glukhov told me, after meeting him, signed onto the "Mirchink" as senior assistant and worked there from 10 September till the end of the search. According to him, the "Mirchink" didn't find the crash site right away, due not only to the nature of the task, but also because of all the different departments involved. The fact was that the search and recovery was assigned to the Navy, but the Air Defense were the ones who knew the coordinates of the area in which the the plane was shot down. On the "Mirchink", there were navy sailors from Sovetskij Gavan, experts from military aviation, who helped sort out the wreckage.
These experts determined the approximate area to be searched. At first it was fairly large. After the area was determined, the search had to be continued on the bottom, on the ground. They could use a side looking hydro-locator for this. This is a towed highly accurate acoustic device. This device produces a "picture", like a photograph of the sea bottom. The military did not have such a gadget (or was it "out of order"?)(1). The Navy tried to sweep this area with a trawling net and actually did pick up pieces of the aircraft by using it. As the divers later saw, the trawl scraped along the central part and dragged the Boeing almost a kilometer and a half. For that "metal", which the trawl netted on the bottom, I was told, the military expected decorations and medals.
However, they did not accomplish the most important thing, to determine the exact spot the "catch" was netted, which, of course, was impossible.
There was only one solution. They had get a look at the bottom. Let us continue V. Zakharchenko's story:
"They decided to lower a television camera from the Mirchink and dragging it along with a towline, search... All the time we were "resting" in Kholmsk, these were the methods our colleagues were using. They did not find anything of interest. For a day or two we watched how the television camera was working out. In my opinion, it was completely senseless, since the field of view (in such underwater visibility) was about three meters. What are three meters in the sea?..."
"Then we suggested lowering a diving bell with observers inside. They put four operators inside. One looked forward, the second - to the right, the third - to the left, and the fourth - downward, straight under the bell. The width of the search area immediately increased to 15 meters. We began locating our position precisely with an acoustical transmitter."
"The depth there was 174 meters. The bottom was level, solid, - sand and small shells. There were no drop offs of any kind."
"And exactly on the third day we found the aircraft."
"I had the idea that it would be intact. Well, perhaps a little bang up... The divers would go inside the aircraft and see everything there was to see. In fact it was completely demolished, scattered about like kindling. The largest things we saw were the braces which are especially strong - they were about one and a half or two meters long and 50-60 centimeters wide. As for the rest - broken into tiny pieces..."
"In addition to the aircraft wreckage, there were many things, which passengers usually carry in their luggage. There was clothing, documents, wallets, women's purses... In the suits and dresses were documents. We were told to bring them up as well as other things- not all the clothing, just the clothing from which it was difficult to extract the documents underwater. I repeat, we found passports, student ID's... All this was collected by the representatives of the Navy and immediately turned over to the BPK Sevastopol (a large anti-submarine boat. - Author.). We did not list or account for the stuff we found. Nothing at all... We simply turned over everything we found to the military."
"At the end of the job the boys sneaked a film of the job. We had a television camera. We went from one end of the aircraft wreckage to the other and filmed the whole thing. We had to turn the film in, and they took it to Moscow. Where? I do not know. There is no shortage of boot-lickers in the world. Somebody did not like what we were filming and went knocking on some door. They called us in and ordered us turn it over. We did."
(If the film shot by the divers was stored in the archives of authoritative agencies, then that is astounding! For then there truely would be unique pictures for international expert evaluation. Incidentally, I will try to list which documents and material evidence based on our information might still be stored in secret archives to this day.)
"We had several tasks," said Zakharchenko. "First we had to bring up documents. Any document! All the papers we found were collected and brought up. Second - find radio equipment parts. Equipment racks, the equipment itself, etc... We brought up and turned over everything, right down to the cassette players, you know, those tape recorders for people who like music. At that time we didn't have any of them in Russia at all.. We also brought up computer tapes and recording tapes. They were unwound and tangled. We gathered up all the racks, cabinets, and boxes... They lowered a special basket from above, from the deck of the Mirchink, and the divers packed everything into it. They unloaded this basket of everything brought up from the bottom onto a roped off deck, where nobody was allowed to go. All our finds were sorted out by people in civilian clothes, but with short haircuts. (There were quite a few of short haired civilians.) They took what they needed, packed it up, and sent it ashore. On its was to Moscow."
"On the 28th or 29th of October they said: "That's all boys, that will do..."
"But the most important thing was not what we saw, but what we did not see - the divers could find practically no human bodies or remains..."
During the course of this journalistic investigation we did not meet just V. Zakharchenko, the person who supervised the divers. We also spoke with the people who spent six to eight hours a day under water. Their names were Grigorij Matvejenko, Vadim Kondrabayaev, and V. K-ov.
Now is the very time to introduce the readers to an excerpt from the transcript of their interview. By the way, I wish to point out that this interview contains completely documented admissions that are appearing in the press for the first time in the world. I did not edit the text in any way. Let the lads say what they will and what they recall. Therefore, certain shocking details are unavoidable. After all, they are discussing the lives of 269 people. Or, rather, their deaths.
"There wasn't much... If we are to believe there were more that 200 people on the aircraft... We thought that we would go down and find a cemetery... But... None the first day nor the next... We got to know every inch. When I saw remains the first time, I was surprised but not frightened. Later we found some bones. Two... I picked them up... Later I saw some human skin with hair, like a scalp. The hair was black... But it all fell apart at a touch... I saw what appeared to be a hand in a glove. And then, remember, we saw a torso without a head, wearing a jacket. And winding their way out from under the jacket were some white strings - apparently the remains of entrails..."
"I did not miss a single dive. I have the very distinct impression that the aircraft was filled with garbage and that there was no one actually on board. Why? Well, if an aircraft crashes, even a small one, as a rule there are suitcases and bags, or at least the handles of the suitcases... But there were things that I do not think normal people would take on an airplane. Well, for instance, there was a piled up amalgamation, like from a pile of garbage... Clothing like from a dump, with pieces ripped off. Or as if shot full of holes. I personally did not find any remains."
"We worked for almost a month! There was practically nothing. There were not even very many clothes. There were very few jackets, coats or shoes. What we did find was in some way broken up! Let's say we found a few compacts. They would be intact and could be opened. But what was strange was the mirrors inside all of them were broken. The plastic shell was completely intact but the mirrors were all broken. Or umbrellas. All of them were in their cases, and the cases were intact, not even slightly torn. But the umbrellas themselves were crumpled and unusable... Knives and forks were bent. What kind of force did it take to cause this?!"
I admit that this turn in the conversation with the divers was completely unexpected by this journalist. Its understandable what the pilot who shot it down doesn't want to believe that there were 269 passengers on board the Korean "Boeing-747." But the divers?! You see, they were the only eyewitnesses, actual eyewitnesses, to the results of this air tragedy. But, there was speculation, even in the press, that this aircraft was completely empty when it flew into the Far Easter skies. That the entire story of KAL-007 was a monstrous hoax and falsification.
The divers reached a similar conclusion. But...
(1) This is a little dig at the Soviet military, which has a bit of a problem keeping high tech equipment operational. As an example, one of the problems is that the service men drink the alcohol that is supposed to be used to clean the equipment, then clean the equipment with something else. Kerosene, soap and water??
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